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Elevator Pitch Contest Winners announced at IUFoST

 

The 19th edition of the global event, IUFoST (International Union of Food Science and Technology) World Congress, was held in Mumbai, India from October 23-27, with the theme of “25 Billion Meals a Day by 2025 with Healthy, Nutritious, Safe and Diverse Foods“.

Aflatoxins, toxic metabolites of Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus fungi, are one of the greatest risks to food security, health and well-being in low- and middle-income countries. Over 4 billion people are at risk of chronic exposure to aflatoxins through contaminated foods, with  detrimental consequences as diverse as growth impairment and liver cancer.

The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), in collaboration with Sight and Life Foundation, Mars, Incorporated and Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN), invited ideas from students and young professionals for reducing or eliminating exposure to aflatoxin-contaminated foods and feed as part of the 2018 Elevator Pitch Contest (EPC).

On October 25th, six young innovators from around the globe pitched their ideas to a panel of experts, judges and potential investors. After much deliberation, Sight and Life is proud to share that Alexandra Warrington from Future Food Now, and Alexandra Sanderson of Kumwe Harvest were both awarded the prestigious prize and seed money for their ideas!!

Alexandra Warrington from Future Food Now offered a solution for using aflatoxin at-risk groundnut cake as a by-product from oil crushing to be used as a feed source for insect farming. The idea is to use insect farming technology to specifically target aflatoxin at-risk food chains, namely groundnuts, and potentially maize, in Malawi. It follows a circular economy approach where waste products are repurposed as feed for insects and redirected away from human food markets.

Alexandra Sanderson and her team from Kumwe Harvest proposed its existing “just-in-time” post-harvest processing model in which maize is aggregated ‘on-cob’ and processed immediately using high-capacity shelling and drying machines. The process involves buying unshelled maize on the cob from farmers after harvest, transported it to a central processing facility for immediate shelling and drying, before delivering to commercial buyers. It now achieves 100% quality acceptance rates with an aflatoxin limit of five parts per billion. This tried-and-tested concept aims to be taken to the next level by working with 80,000 farmers over the next three years to provide 30,000 tonnes of maize to commercial agribusinesses in Rwanda.

A big thank you is also due to our distinguished jury panel who brought their immense knowledge, expertise, and experience in aflatoxin-control to the table!!!

Winners of the Elevator Pitch Contest, Alexandra Warrington and Alexandra Sanderson with Benedikt Suter, Board Member for the Sight and Life Foundation, and Vish Prakash, Scientific Council Chair for the IUFoST, two of the EPC distinguished judges.