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Datathon Stop Food Loss & Waste

Datathon Stop Food Loss & Waste
July 25, 2018 By: F&BKP Office Image: Xomnia

The power of new approaches and technologies, young minds and reaching outside the box of World Bank domain bubbles, was shown on May 19 and 20, 2018 during the Datathon Food Loss and Waste. The event was organized in Amsterdam at the premises of big data company Xomnia B.V., under the WBG-NL Partnership “Food for All”.

Xomnia organizes a Datathon twice a year in order to tackle different social issues. For this edition, the problem of Food Loss and Waste was chosen in collaboration with the World Bank Group – Netherlands Partnership “Food For All”.

Wijnand van IJssel, Senior Advisor Food Security at the World Bank: “The global availability and security of having food is for both the Netherlands and the World Bank a policy priority. The demand of food is continuously increasing with the growing world population, whereas the waste of food is enormous. A deeper insight of where, how much and why food is wasted and getting lost is the beginning for purposeful interventions.”

Stijn de Gooijer, Data Scientist at Xomnia: “The Xomnia Datathon is a unique way to generate new and creative insights on a social topic. The global scale and complexity makes food loss and waste a firm challenge that comes with a great variety of data sources. Artificial Intelligence helps to translate this into meaningful insights from which action can be taken. We hope to be able to contribute to the reduction of food loss and waste issues.”

The Datathon Food Loss and Waste

Nine teams of in total 40 students/young professionals competed for smart data-driven solutions to help reduce Food Loss and Waste or generate insights in to data. Datasets from the World Bank household surveys, African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS), Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and satellite data sources were prepared and shared, while teams were free to tap in to other public data sources. Wijnand van IJssel introduced the participants to the topic with a short introduction to the World Bank and a presentation on Food Loss and Waste. Further domain expertise was provided by Eduardo Nakasone of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and a team of international students of Wageningen University & Research. Both Wijnand van IJssel and Eduardo Nakasone were also featuring on the jury the next day, together with Rosa Keizers (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate) and David Woudenberg (Xomnia). After working for 24 hours straight – from Saturday 2pm till Sunday 2pm – teams came up with interesting solutions, for example potentially feeding into the Ag Observatory goals.

The winning team

The winning team CoolShare consists of young IT professionals from Schiphol Airport and is a digital platform to match supply and demand for cold storage and cooled transport in India to reduce loss, optimize capacity utilization and farmer benefits. The platform allows users to offer their overcapacity to other users for a fee, or for farmers to rent available capacity for a price. Not only does this address losses during the storage process, it also optimizes the transport process and generates reliable food loss data through user data and possibly sensor data. CoolShare will be connected to two WB agricultural value chain projects in North India.

The aim of the Datathon was to generate ideas and concrete avenues of approach to the food loss and waste problem from a data perspective. And the results are there: a diverse array of nine projects representing various ideas and techniques. While a 24-hour exercise delivers no more than prototypes to be further developed, it showed the potential to look at old problems in new ways and come up with practical solutions. Martien van Nieuwkoop, Director Agriculture, World Bank Group, even suggested to consider using such a Datathon more often in project preparation.

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