sww2014-water-food-vos-salt-farm-770pxThe US Agency for International Development (USAID), Sweden’s development agency (Sida), and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA-NL) announced 17 award nominees for their program, Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development.

The announcement was made at a special seminar during the Stockholm Water Week on 3 September.

All 17 winners, including 7 Dutch-based entries, pitched their proposals, explaining how they want to bring their innovative technology to the market.

The 17 awarded ideas were selected from 520 applications from universities, start-ups, and NGOs in more than 93 countries.

Contracts with the winners have yet to be finalised, providing them up to from 300.000 upto 3 million USD each to roll out their innovation. Overall, the program partners will provide 32 million USD.

dws-sww2014-water-food-waterpads2-350px  Waterpads will introduce their jut cushions filled with gel granules and nutrients, on the Turkish market.

Seven Dutch winners
The seven Dutch-based winners are:
• aQysta (Nepal): A low-cost, hydro-powered irrigation pump that does not require any fuel or electricity, has no operating expenses, and does not emit any polluting greenhouse gases.

• Arcadis (Mexico): A sustainable, innovative freshwater management system that prevents groundwater salinization in coastal areas.

• FutureWater (Mozambique): Simple-to-operate drones that provide farmers with real-time information on soil and crops. Information provided by drones will enhance farmers’ use of limited resources, maximize yields, and simultaneously reduce unnecessary waste of resources.

• MetaMeta & SaltFarmTexel (Pakistan): A non-GMO, salt-tolerant potato that requires very little fresh water for cultivation. Scaling up access to this potato will contribute to better use of lands and waters that have high salinity and will reduce the pressure on freshwater resources.
(presented by Arjen Vos, see top photo)

• TAHMO Community (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania): An innovative solar-powered sensor system that delivers accurate, localized, and timely meteorological and water resource information to farmers multiple times per day via a mobile device.

• Wageningen University & Research Centre (Chile, China, Vietnam): A non-GMO, salt-tolerant quinoa that can enable significant food production in saline soils, without the need for fresh water.

• Waterpads (Turkey): A long-lasting, biodegradable water buffer for crops – based at the plant roots – that can repeatedly absorb, store, and release water directly to plant roots on demand. This increases crop yields with less water usage, even under saline, extremely hot, and dry conditions.

Other winners include drought tolerant plants, special designed greenhouses, a laser guided drip technology, a pre-fertilised seed strip and a floatable pad to clean polluted ponds.

sww2014-water-food-hafkenscheid-350pxRay Hafkenscheid of the Dutch ministry of Foreign affairs.

Cutting edge innovations
The concept of the Grand Challenge is developed by USAID that has five more of these competitions to stimulate entrepreneurs to start selling cutting edge technology with a potential transformative impact.

"Our American and Swedish partners approached us, because they thought highly of the Dutch knowledge on water saving agricultural technology", explains Ray Hafkenscheid, the coordinator of the challenge in behalf of the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hard markets
"The fact that 7 out of the 17 world's cutting edge innovations originates from the Netherlands, shows we are doing a good job", adds Hafkenscheid proudly. "It proves our US and Swedish partners were right when they turned to us as a knowledgeable partner".

"We cannot force the introduction of new technology. This is hard for small companies to launch completely new products in a global market of mainly poor farmers. Yet we can facilitate them and stimulate their enthousiasm. It was great to see how new partnerships were established between technical experts and entrepreneurs".

Hafkenscheid got enthusiastic and hopes for a second call. "It will be interesting to see if this can stimulate the forge of more new partnerships."

See a short presentation of all 17 winners is published on the special website Securing Water and Food.

Also read on this website
• Stockholm Water Week: Photo coverage highlighting some remarkable Dutch contributions, 8 September 2014
• Stockholm Water Week: Joint water-energy supplies in poor areas not as obvious as it seems, 8 September 2014
• Stockholm Water Week: Rainwater management crucial for eradication global poverty, 4 September 2014
• Stockholm Water Week: Yes, access to clean drinking water for all, but how?, 2 September 2014
• Stockholm Water Week: Teaming up with energy service deliveries makes sense in world's poor places, 29 August 2014
• Stockholm Water Week: Unesco-IHE puts drip irrigation in perspective, 27 August 2014 
• Dutch buzzword at Stockholm water week will be sustainable water services, 22 August 2014

More information

Click - here - to see the full video recording of the seminar including all 17 pitches by the winners.