Launch of Food Frontiers: Urban Food System Innovation Challenge 2021

To improve food security, nutrition, and the impact of food production on the environment, Bangladesh’s SUN Business Network has launched an exciting competition hoping to showcase innovation as the solution to the country’s food system concerns. With a successful launch event in May 2021, the competition is off to a great start and has already begun to train its shortlisted applicants through comprehensive bootcamps. Learn more about the competition here.

Our food systems are at risk, with the excessive use of inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and other harmful external inputs threatening Bangladeshi food security, nutrition and environment. In addition, our food systems contribute to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of groundwater depletion. Climate change is exacerbating these challenges, and threats to our urban population from increasing population pressure, a loss of agricultural land and long value chains demand an urgent call for action.

Getting off to a flying start

On 30th May 2021, policymakers, experts and business leaders shared thoughts on the frontiers of innovation in food systems in the virtual launch event of Food Frontiers: Urban Food System Innovation Challenge 2021. Dr. Ashek Mahfuz, Portfolio Lead for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), inaugurated the virtual event by highlighting this competition as the continual effort of the Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN), a platform co-convened by GAIN and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in upholding nutrition for all, through innovations in food systems for a resilient and sustainable Bangladesh.

The Country Coordinator of SBN Bangladesh, Syed Muntasir Ridwan, explained the ways in which an effective transition to a sustainable food system can be made, such as through a shift from a Linear to Circular Economy, disruptive technological innovation in food systems and by shaping consumer behaviour through inventive methods to move towards pursuing healthy diets. The Special Guest, Ms. Farzana Khan, General Manager of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Foundation, reiterated the need for actors of the food value chain to engage themselves in bringing positive change into the agri-food sector in Bangladesh. She encouraged start-ups and SMEs to step up and bring disruptive innovations in this booming sector and highlighted the areas of support SME Foundation offers to SMEs including training and certification to help them scale up their businesses.