Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security

  • 14th August 2019
  • by secretary
17 June 2019. The 2019 Olam Prize for Innovation in Food Security, awarded in partnership with Agropolis Fondation, recognises an innovative scientific research project for its potential impact on the availability, accessibility, affordability and adequacy of food, in line with UN SDG#2: End Hunger.

The 2019 Prize has been awarded to pioneering landscape mapping that’s re-imagining subsistence farming.

Innovation Mapping for Food Security (IM4FS) – co-led by Dr Tomaso Ceccarelli of Wageningen University Research and Dr Elias Eyasu Fantahun of Addis Ababa University – recommends “best-fit” combinations of crops, farming practices, and environmental and socio-economic conditions, to optimise smallholder yields of staple crops. 

“The challenge of IMF4S is to promote agricultural innovations and ‘best practices’ in food insecure areas of the country. This is done with the support of data and IT solutions which can help in disseminating the best-fit innovations. What are the best crops to grow in a specific area? Should this be facilitated by specific fertilizers, crop protection techniques, or rural infrastructures? Are there additional risks associated to climate change or soil nutrient depletion which need the support of credit to farmers? There are some questions the Project – IM4FS – is attempting to address,” Dr. Tomaso Ceccarelli co-leader of the IM4FS Project

Applied at scale, it has the potential to transform productivity in countries like Ethiopia, hit by food insecurity. IM4FS is a novel approach supporting the introduction of farming best practices in food insecure areas. It builds on the CASCAPE project (https://www.wur.nl/en/show/cascape-1.htm) which has successfully designed and implemented ‘best-fit’ combinations of crops, soils and innovative farming technologies. IM4FS aims to make these innovations work for many more farmers, in CASCAPE and other projects such as REALISE (https://benefitethiopia.org/). IM4FS looks first at what is needed to make such innovations a success. It then matches, in a given area, best farming practices with bio-physical, socio-economic resources and demography.

IM4FS wants to provide a tool for decision makers such as planners, researchers, agro-processors, extension specialists, financial institutions, as well as farmers, to simulate which interventions should be done where, and when. This is done by creating future scenarios.

Several of the about 80 ‘best-fit’ practices validated by CASCAPE have already been incorporated within the national/regional extension package. 

“The plan is to reach out over 750.000 smallholder farmers by 2019. Financial institutions will understand better the risk they face in promoting agricultural credit for a specific area and crop and design the best loans for farmers. Extension specialists and researchers at national level will work out better strategies to combat climate change, for instance identifying crop cultivars adapted to rising temperatures. Smallholder farmers will also have an advantage because the impacts above will help them coping with food insecurity also in face of climate change,” Eyasu Fantahun  co-leader of the IM4FS Project