Applications open for US$7.5 million Securing Water for Food Challenge


The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Sweden has announced it is accepting applications for the US$7.5 million-worth Securing Water for Food Challenge.

Launched in 2013, the competition seeks innovations that help farmers produce more food with less water, enhance water storage, and improve the use of saline water and soils to produce food.

The competition focuses on three areas that are deemed critical to reducing water scarcity in the food value chain. They are:

  • Improving water efficiency and reusing agricultural wastewater to significantly extend the productivity of limited water resources.
  • Effective water capture and storage systems for extending temporal availability of water supply in regions where precipitation is seasonal.
  • Management of salinity in water supplies, as it is a major threat to food production.

From the applications received, and after due diligence, a few entrepreneurs will be selected to receive between US$100,000 and US$2 million in funding and acceleration to support to bring their innovations to scale.

“As we see more and more droughts all over the world and surpass the one billion mark of people who don’t have enough food to eat, it is increasingly clear that we need better innovations to help our planet’s farmers grow more food with less water,” said Christian Holmes, USAID’s Global Water Coordinator.

He added, “Securing Water for Food provides catalytic funding to innovators in the water-ag nexus who can solve what is becoming one of the most pressing challenges of our time.”

The challenge is open to entrepreneurs [1] with exceptional innovations that have already demonstrated success during pilots that go beyond traditional development programs and conventional approaches.

If you’re a scientist, student, entrepreneur, or passionate problem solver and interested in this challenge, you should apply by October 10, 2016.

This edition of the challenge is the fourth. In the three previous rounds of the challenge, which have been highly successful [2], 30 winners out of nearly 1,000 applications from universities, startups, and NGOs in more than 93 countries were selected.

Their innovations range from crops for saline environments and flying water sensor technologies to organic seed protectants that defend against drought and heat stress.

The challenge is organized through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MFA-NL) and the government of South Africa.

[1] Women-owned/women-led enterprises and entrepreneurs in developing countries are highly encouraged to take part in the challenge.

[2] Over 700 million liters of water have been saved, nearly 2,600 tons of food have been produced and more than 780,000 farmers and other customers in more than 25 low-resource countries have been served.

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