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Two Kenyan companies top in UN Food summit

Two Kenyan companies are among 13 small businesses who have been announced winners at the UN Food Systems summit for providing “Good Food for All” in Africa and Middle East.

The Sh10.8 million (USD100,00) global competition was held in conjunction with the UN Food Systems Summit to showcase innovative solutions in improving access to healthy, sustainable food.

Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare and the Toothpick Company Ltd were selected out of nearly 200,000 applications from 135 countries in Africa and Middle East that had submitted their pitches.

Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare works to protect a 30 hectare locally-managed marine area (LMMA) known as Tengefu and share benefits from enhanced fish catches and eco-tourism with local communities while ToothPick Company works with rural women to locally produce a fungus-based herbicide to fight the pernicious witchweed, Striga that has seen staple crops such as maize yield increase by 42 to 56 per cent.

The 13 winners form part of a global set of 50 winner’s half of whom are youth-led and nearly half are women-led and who will all share Sh10.8 million (USD100,000) in cash prizes.

In a press release today, as the stakeholders in Agriculture are convened at the UN Food Systems Summit taking place in Rome this week, Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit said small businesses are the hidden heroes of food systems, managing at least half of the food economies and keeping food on plates throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We must understand the challenges they face and work together to ensure they remain at the heart of efforts to improve the future of food,” Kalibata said.

Each winner was selected for how their business contributes to healthier, more sustainable and equitable food for the communities they serve; the strength of their vision for the future; and how well they communicate the current and future impacts of their business.

The competition winners were announced today alongside a new report, based on a global survey of these businesses’ ambition and needs.

The report outlines three critical pathways for supporting small businesses in realizing their full promise, creating more conducive business environments, offering more positive incentives, and empowering small business leaders to have greater influence in sector planning.

Other winners from the Sub-Saharan Africa region were from Ethiopia, two organisations from Nigeria, one from Tanzania, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Madagascar, Sierra Leone and three from the Middle East and North African region namely Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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