IITA among $100,000 Growth Grant finalist for Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge

17 November 2021

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has announced that IITA is among the Growth Grand finalists to be awarded $100,000 for its project on integrating Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) as bio-inoculants to boost banana production in the East African Highlands. This was announced in a press release issued on the IFT website.

Global Food System ChallengeThe award is part of the Seeding The Future Global Food System Challenge–an initiative that seeks to inspire and support passionate, creative, diverse, and multidisciplinary teams to create game-changing innovations that will help transform the food system.

“The submitted ideas for all award categories are very innovative with high impact potential to create a more safe, nutritious, sustainable, and equitable food system, resulting in food that is trusted, affordable and accessible by consumers,” says Bernhard van Lengerich, founder of Seeding The Future Foundation in the press release.

The project aims to introduce locally isolated AMF species into banana-based production systems and catalyze the development of a commercially sustainable and scalable process for its production and distribution to smallholder farmers in Eastern Africa for a sustainable banana food system for food security and nutrition. The project is a consortium of a multidisciplinary team from Africa and the European Union.

“The goal of this intervention is to have a commercially sustainable distribution of AMF primed micropropagated banana plantlets. The investment in AMF will be offset by many benefits—both short- and long-term—that are highly relying on each other which will be tested throughout the project,” says Manoj Kaushal, a Systems Agronomist at IITA.

The project path to scalability and economic feasibility is a multi-stage process through the private sector with capacity building and support from international donors / NGO partners and the government.

The Challenge is funded by the Seeding The Future Foundation and is focused on empowering transdisciplinary teams to develop scalable and high impact innovations that reside at the intersection of three domains: safe and nutritious food for a healthy diet; sustainably produced; and accessible, appealing, affordable, and trusted by consumers.

Winners of the challenge will be announced in January of 2022.