Innovating to Curb Food Loss in Africa

GKI as The Innovation Partner for The Rockefeller Foundation's YieldWise Initiative

How might we accelerate innovation for reducing post harvest food loss?

Problem

Pursuing innovation — whether incremental or radical, technological or process-based — can be a risky undertaking. That’s because innovation requires a fundamental break from the status quo, demands vulnerability, and absorbs often-limited resources. But while innovation may be risky, it remains an imperative if we are to solve big development challenges like food insecurity.  Without inspired creativity and risk-taking, ambitious development targets will remain unmet. Take the effort to reduce post harvest food loss in developing countries, for example.  This is an ambitious undertaking indeed when you consider that up to 40% of crops in developing countries are lost before they make it to market.  But it’s a necessary undertaking if we are to feed 9 billion people by 2050, given that 1.2 billion people are already food insecure or undernourished.

Solution

In 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation launched YieldWise, a US $130 million initiative to demonstrate how the world can halve food loss by 2030.  This effort currently focuses on four value chains in three countries: maize in Tanzania, cassava and tomatoes in Nigeria, and mangoes in Kenya.   To help meet their ambitious target, The Rockefeller Foundation invited GKI to support YieldWise as its Innovation Partner.

GKI helps partners improve effectiveness and impact through innovation. This includes working with implementing partners to address their innovation capacity building goals.  Additionally, GKI is scanning for innovations that have the potential to reduce post harvest food loss at all stages of the value chain, however incrementally or radically.  This exciting partnership builds upon a legacy of work with The Rockefeller Foundation on the post harvest food loss challenge: GKI served as the Social Innovation Lab for the Foundation’s Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative in 2013-15.

Results / Outcomes

  • Scanning for innovations poised to address on-the-ground needs expressed by implementing partners
  • Hosting “blue sky” innovation seminars to identify emerging trends poised to add value to YieldWise
  • Developing a toolset for improved innovation decision making, which emphasizes creative problem solving and systems thinking
  • Running a YieldWise Innovation Course for partners and the broader network of organizations engaged in the initiative
  • Responding to innovation requests from The Rockefeller Foundation and implementing partners on an as-needed basis