Press Release: OLAM awards prize for innovation in food security

Olam, a  leading global agri-business operating across the value chain in 65 countries, has announced that the Olam International Prize for Innovation in Food Security  has been awarded to  Professor Norman Uphoff, a professor of Government  and International Agriculture and former director of the Cornell International  Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development and the  SRI International

Network and Resources Centre (SRI-Rice).
The  Olam International Prize for Innovation in Food Security is one of four unique  global initiatives launched to mark Olam’s 25 th anniversary, all of  which are aimed at helping address some of the global challenges facing the  next generation. The other three initiatives are The Olam Scholarship  Programme, The Building Sustainable Futures Forum and the Olam Foundation.

A  prize of US$50,000 was awarded to Prof. Norman Uphoff and the Centre by an  international jury panel at the 3 rd Global Science Conference on  Climate Smart Agriculture in Montpellier, France. 

Launched  in partnership with the leading scientific organisation,  Agropolis Fondation , the Olam Prize for Innovation in

Food Security recognises an outstanding innovation for its impact on the  availability, affordability, accessibility or adequacy of food.

The winning entry, SRI-Rice,  housed  at New York’s Cornell University, has  been promoting research and facilitating knowledge-sharing on the climate-smart  methodology of SRI with outstanding results.

The SRI system requires 80-90% fewer rice seeds, up to 50%  less water and, in many instances, no fertiliser.  Rice yields are boosted

by 20-50% (and often by much more), with farmers’ costs subsequently reduced by  10-20 %.  Given that rice is produced by over 200 million smallholder  farmers in emerging markets, such increases are bound to have a significant

impact on food security.
Such  has been the success of the SRI system today that it is now being promoted by  governments in China, India, Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam, where two thirds  of the world’s rice is produced. The use of SRI practices is increasing the yields of over 10 million smallholder farmers by an average of 1.67 tons per  hectare, while simultaneously reducing their costs and lowering water

“The innovation behind SRI is fascinating  because it disrupts common notions of rice farming, and such disruption is

essential if we are to feed nine billion people by 2050. Grown by 200 million  small-scale farmers, rice is the world’s staple diet, so I am delighted that  Olam is helping to scale up practices so clearly proven to increase yields,  thereby reducing the pressure on precious arable land and water”, said Mr. Sunny Verghese, Group Managing Director and CEO at Olam.

Mr. Verghese observed that in addition to the efficacy of SRI, there are no costs  to the farmer which provides three benefits: firstly, communities have  increased access to vital calories without paying more; secondly they can

improve their livelihoods by selling surplus production and lastly, such  surplus helps to meet global food security needs.

“As we celebrate our 25 years in the  agricultural sector, I am proud that this anniversary prize should be awarded

to SRI-RICE, a team that has ‘transcended boundaries’ – the meaning of Olam.  And with our own 10,000 hectare rice farm and small holder programme in Nigeria we will certainly be exploring this research further.” Mr Verghese concluded.

Story by Ghana/

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