USAID and IREN announce winners of East Africa Postharvest Technologies Competition 2017

Karen Freeman at the exhibition area, Grace Akumu of Uganda and James Shikwati CEO Inter Region Economic Network

Grace Akumu from Uganda, Kenya’s Donatus Njoroge and John Nkwabi Kirigit are the winners of the East Africa Postharvest Technologies Competition 2017

The competition, managed by the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) and supported by a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) East Africa Trade and Investment Hub, attracted over 200 innovators and researchers from East Africa. The three winners’ technological solutions provide the best hope for improving nutrition and food security in Africa by reducing food loss and waste.

They will split $30,000 in seed capital to scale up and disseminate their technologies to reduce postharvest food losses. Poor postharvest practices currently result in the loss of 60 percent of all food that is produced in Africa.

“These young innovators hold the solutions to Africa’s greatest challenges. USAID is proud to support a platform that celebrates and promotes their ingenuity,” said Karen Freeman, the USAID Mission Director for Kenya and East Africa.

The three innovators were selected from a group of 25 semi-finalists during a three-day East Africa Postharvest Technologies Fair that included training sessions, networking sessions and a final competition. The innovators showcased and pitched their innovations to development partners, donors, governments, investors, and farmer and trader associations.

Grace’s bench type manual maize sheller captured first place. Donatus came second second with a technology that uses plant materials to protect stored grains against postharvest pests. John came in third place with a solar drier for fruits and vegetables.
Agribusiness corporation Syngenta contributed to the $30,000 award in seed capital to be split among the winners: $15,000 to first place, $10,000 to second, and $5,000 to third place.

“The East Africa Postharvest Technologies Fair is a great platform to showcase talent and innovations towards resolving food loss and is an additional tool to addressing perennial food security challenges in the region,” said James Shikwati, Chief Executive Officer, IREN.