Sorting flour
Mill operator Mama Anna cleans and sorts flour before milling. The photo was taken at Chapa SS flourmills, Bunju, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Image Credit: Supplied

These people across the world have helped give a basic necessity to hundreds and thousands worldwide - food. We look at Zayed Sustainability Prize winners and finalists, and their work on the ground and the lives they’ve changed, especially within vulnerable communities.

As the Prize’s jury have recently announced the finalists of the Zayed Sustainability Prize 2023, here is a look at previous winners whose initiatives managed to secure sustainable food solutions for communities worldwide.

Food Hero I: Sanku

Non-profit organisation Sanku is a 2019 Zayed Sustainability Prize winner who reaches out to African communities where malnutrition is prevalent and equips small-scale local millers with an innovative technology that fortifies their flour.

With 150 flour-fortification machines installed in flourmills across five East African countries, Sanku impacts almost two million people, providing them with safer, healthy food. Plans to broaden its reach and scope are also in place, as the organisation works towards the ambitious vision of eradicating malnutrition in Africa.

“One wholesaler came to my mill to ensure I fortify flour before I sell it to him. I was thankful that Sanku had already supplied me with a dosifier, or else I would have lost that customer,” Dr. Nandonde, owner of GMF Mills, a university lecturer with a passion for flour processing said.

The Sanku Dosifier enables any miller to “dose” flour with the precise ratio of nutrients to help ensure a healthy diet. It made the 2019 Time magazine best inventions list.

Dr. Nandonde also supplies hotels and schools with his nutritious flour.

Food Hero II: Okuafo Foundation

Okuafo is a 2020 Zayed Sustainability Prize winner and a Ghana-based SME that developed a smartphone application to detect crop diseases and infestations. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the app then offers scientifically-based solutions to prevent harvest losses.

The Okuafu AI app is used by rural farmers in Ghana and does not require an internet connection to work. It has helped farmers increase crop productivity by 50 per cent, cut down on pesticides, and reduce their daily costs.

Okuafo’s application has been used by more than a thousand farmers, which in turn gave 18,000 people access to safe, nutritious food. Some 2,184 farmers from 38 communities have been trained on effective pest control methods and how to use the app.

Food Hero III: S4S Technologies

S4S Technologies is a 2022 Zayed Sustainability Prize winner and an India-based SME that founded a technology to reduce food waste and improve farmers’ income. Using S4S Technologies’ proprietary and innovative solar dryers, harvest waste at local farms is dehydrated and turned into non-perishable food that is later sold to other retailers and businesses.

S4S (or Science for Society) focuses on empowering rural women by training them to run the drying process. To date, one million people have gained access to nutrition-rich food thanks to S4S Technologies.