Feb. 7, 2013
In Sub-Saharan Africa, most of the losses in the food supply chain take place during post-harvest storage and handling. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) estimate post-harvest grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa at around $4 billion a year . This lost food could meet the minimum annual food requirements of at least 48 million people.
A UK consortium led by Exosect Ltd. and including the Government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), CABI and Sylvan Bio has developed a novel biopesticide technology for the protection of stored grain. The new protectant targeting insect pests found in stored grain, is the result of 7 years of extensive research and testing. European regulatory field trials commenced in 2012 and having received a US$1m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the consortium are now able to extended this work to Sub-Saharan Africa, starting with trials in Tanzania and Ghana in 2013.
Andy Jones has been newly appointed by Exosect to manage the project which aims to reduce the poverty of subsistence farmers by wasting less maize to insects. Jones brings extensive experience of working in the crop protection market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The ex-CEO of the Arysta Lifesciences business in Europe says “I am delighted to be able to make this contribution to African farming, and look forward to being able help farmers protect their maize harvest and feed their families ”.
The technology harnesses the power of ‘friendly fungi’ (Beauvaria bassiana), combined with the patented Entostat® delivery platform from Exosect to control insects such as grain beetles. As long ago as 1836 Agostino Bassi, for whom the naturally occurring fungus Beauveria bassiana is named, suggested that microorganisms could be used to control destructive insects and protect food. Microbial control has progressed to the present day from the application of naturalists' observations to sustainable biotechnology and precision delivery.