March 2015

Dear Reader,

Women Innovators "Making It Happen' in Agriculture 
On March 8th, countries around the world once again marked the International Women's Day, this time under the theme "Make it Happen". All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. "Make it Happen" particularly called for celebrating women's achievements and more equality for women in the domains of science and technology, and women-owned businesses, among others.

Now in it's fourth wave, the Innovation Engine recognizes the role of women in agriculture, and particularly in the often male-dominated spheres of science, technology, innovation and agribusiness.

This issue of "The Innovator" features the recent achievements of two women "Making it Happen" through their innovations under the program's first wave. Read about Real IPM Ltd. Co-Director Louise Labuschagne's efforts to curb the fruit fly menace in four counties in Kenya and Wanda Organic CEO Marion Moon's recent participation in the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture, where she provided a young woman's insights on climate-smart agriculture from a third-world perspective. Also read about USAID's recently announced, third "Water for Food" Challenge, which has a special focus on water-saving innovations that prioritize the engagement of women. 
The Innovation Engine Team
Management of the Fruit Fly: Real IPM's Sweet News for Mango Farmers 

MARCH 2015

A farmers' demonstration event in Meru County in September 2014

News just in indicates that the days of the fruit fly in mango orchards in Kenya may be numbered. As part of testing its innovation, Wave I awardee The Real IPM Kenya Limited has been carrying out trials on the use of a fungus (Metarhizium anisopliae 69) for the biological control of the fruit fly. Completed in March, the trials have demonstrated a drastic reduction of up to 40% fruit fly infestation in mangoes. Farmers testing the innovation have also noted that use of the fungus significantly reduces their labor and crop protection budgets.

Fruit-farming has a major potential impact on development through improved livelihoods as well as nutrition.
But this is only if the produce is spared waste and losses resulting from pests on the farm at a minimum. Mango, a key horticultural crop, is the most susceptible crop to fruit fly infestation with staggering losses of up to 80% as a result of  the pest. The industry has suffered even further with many countries banning fresh mango exports from East African countries, citing the presence of the exotic fruit fly (Bactrocera invadens). 

With funding from USAID Kenya through t he Innovation Engine, Real IPM Kenya Ltd is working with the International Center of
A close-up of an early version of Real IPM's auto-dissemination device under test. The appearance of the gadget varies as locally-available materials are used in its fabrication.
Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) to market the fruit fly-killing fungus. The fungus is applied to the soil and also sprayed on the leaves of the crop. Specially-designed devices which attract the fruit flies and attach the fungus to them for auto-dissemination make the innovation unique.

On its part, Real IPM ensures that such research by ICIPE reaches and benefits farmers in Machakos, Makueni, Embu and Meru Counties - the current implementation counties. Already, over 100 farmers have been trained on the innovation and Real IPM has developed auto-dissemination devices using locally-available materials in the focus counties. The commercialized fungus will be available to smallholder farmers through agrovets and other local distributors, on approval from Pest Control Product Board.   It is anticipated that the technology will eventually contribute to the lifting of the export ban once control is exhibited on a national scale. 

Look out for more emerging news on this ground-breaking innovation!
Wanda Organic Represents Innovation Engine at the 2015 Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture in Abu Dhabi  
MARCH 9TH 2015

Climate-smart agriculture was all the rage at this year's Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture. Touted as the world's most influential gathering for sustainable agriculture, the GFIA was held from March 9th to 12th in the United Arab Emirates, with  Wanda Organic Innovation Champion Marion Moon ably representing the Innovation Engine .

Wanda Organic is a Kenyan start-up company that specializes in Plantmate organic fertilizer and Prime EC plant food for smallholder farmers in Kenya. So far, the products have shown shown remarkable improvements in farm productivity and soil health on the testing sites, and the innovator is devising strategies to improve distribution in order to bring down costs and meet rising demand.

With a focus on "Promoting Sustainability and Agricultural Resilience", the second GFIA featured the launch of the inaugural Global Climate-Smart Agriculture Summit. Here, Marion participated
in the Emerging Leaders Workshop on food and energy systems where she engaged with various stakeholders on how land and agriculture - among other sectors and factors, can contribute to controlling the speed of climate change and rising global temperatures. Grounded Hope, a Clinton Foundation initiative led the session.
Marion at the GFIA 2015 holds up a poster: "There is no silver bullet #ClimateSmartKenyan" 

Marion also participated in several roundtables where, being one of the few young women in attendance, she emphasized the need to broaden the scope for youth involvement from mere implementation to strategy and policy formulation. She also highlighted the need for market-driven approaches to agricultural challenges.

GFIA is the only major international exhibition and conference in the world focused on how technology is employed to produce more food sustainably, whilst using less resources. The forum is considered a focal point for the expanding global movement to change the way we feed the world's rapidly-growing population. GFIA also brings together stakeholders involved in the fight to rid the world of poverty and malnutrition through the advancement of agriculture in developing countries.
The 2015 conference brochure is available here
Story from the Field: What's Cooking in Nandi County?

MARCH 6TH 2015

Porridge with
Children line up for a serving of the nutritious porridge during their break time
deworming properties will soon be on the menu of pupils in at least one school in Nandi County. Soiyet and Mosine Primary Schools are participating in a proof-of-concept innovation by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), where one school - the treatment site - will receive the deworming porridge and the other - the control site - will receive regular porridge as well as conventional deworming medicine.

A Wave II awardee,  KEMRI is working with Homeland Dairy Foods Ltd. to design and clinically evaluate a school meal with deworming properties as an innovative solution to Intestinal parasites, which are among the world's most neglected tropical diseases. The  porridge flour (uji in Kiswahili) is fortified with local fruit (paw paw) extracts that have demonstrated deworming properties, and has added
Zinc, Iron and Vitamin A to make it even more nutritious. 


KEMRI recently conducted

information campaigns to bring members of the school communities up to speed on the initiative. Representatives from the Nandi County Government, and the Ministry of Health facilitated the sessions. The innovator also held a stakeholders' meeting at its Center for Global Health Research (CGHR) in Kisian, Kisumu, to discuss the next steps with the Nandi County Government, as part of building Government buy-in for the project.


KEMRI is among seven awardees selected from a total of over 250 applicants in the program's second wave of applications, which closed in March last year.

By the end of this 12-month 
project, KEMRI expects to have established the efficacy of the porridge as a sustainable, homegrown and functional food product, against the use of conventional deworming medicine. If proven viable, the innovation will not only have a significant impact on the health and nutrition of school children, but shall also spur development of fruit farming by rural communities. The commercial viability of the porridge - which is currently being provided free-of-charge under this project, will also be determined in order to determine potential for scaling up. 

Look out for more emerging news as this innovation progresses!

Contact Us

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International Development.

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Tel: +254 (0)722 517 149  

+254 20 232 9639

+ 254 20 232 9749
+254 20 232 7831

The Innovation Engine
USAID/Kenya Feed the Future Innovation Engine identifies, fosters and brings to scale innovative market-driven solutions to persistent food insecurity, under nutrition and poverty by partnering people who design new concepts, products and services with investors who can maximize their commercial potential.

Featured Innovator
Kenya Biologics CEO
Chris Kolenberg 

A former military man, Innovation Champion Chris Kolenberg

 is the CEO of Kenya Biologics - an innovative bio-pesticide company. Under the latest solicitation for innovations, Kenya Biologics is one of two awardees recently announced under the new cohort, with the possibility of more to be announced in the coming weeks.  


With 10 years of service in the Royal Dutch Army, Chris, who holds Bachelor's degrees in Military Management and Business Administration, as well as an MBA, began his journey at Kenya Biologics in 2009 as the company's Business Development Manager. This was followed by a stint as Director of Marketing and Sales before stepping into his current role.   


An avid chess player in his spare time, Chris is passionate about food safety, emphasizing that minimizing chemical residue on plants is everyone's responsibility. Indeed, together with his business partner, Chris has grown Kenya Biologics into a sizable company that employs nearly 30 people and provides at least eight bio-pesticide products. These equip farmers with affordable, efficacious, and environmentally-friendly means to combat crop pests, without leaving any residues on crops.   


With funding and technical assistance from USAID Kenya through the Innovation Engine, Kenya Biologics will soon begin testing its Tutrack innovation to combat Tuta absoluta - a tomato moth pest. Migori, Bungoma and Kericho are the proposed implementation counties. Tutrack is a mass-trapping system for Tuta absoluta consisting of a lure and a trap. The innovation is unique as the lure is specifically selected for the Kenyan market, and is currently being developed on the request of, and together with, Kenyan smallholder farmers. The innovation is in an advanced stage of registration in Kenya, and is well-positioned to be the first product to receive registration against Tuta absoluta. With the Innovation Engine's support, Kenya Biologics expects to reach over  1,500 smallholder tomato farmers in these counties in 12 months.  
Innovation Engine Awards Two New Innovations. More to Come!
Healthy tomatoes on sale at a local market. Photo credit: Kenya Biologics
Kenya Biologics and Caytree Partners Ltd. are the latest innovators to join the Innovation Engine stable.

A second-time applicant, Kenya Biologics will be working with smallholder tomato farmers to combat Tuta absolutaa moth pest which is also reported in potatoes. On its part, Caytree Partners will implement a  Financial Empowerment and Loan Assistance Program to help farmers and small agri-businesses access finances. 

As Stage I innovations, both initiatives will work to test the viability of the innovations and potential to scale to market.

Congratulations to the latest awardees! Stay tuned for emerging news on more incoming innovations. 
Innovation Engine Wins Soil Photo Contest!
Mobile soil testing by Quest Agriculture 
The International Fertilizer Development Corporation ( IFDC) recently announced the Innovation Engine as the winner of the  #ShowUsYourDirt photo contest held in February.

The contest was aimed at raising awareness on the many soil types around the world as part of promoting the International Year of Soils. We "showed our dirt " by tweeting a photo  of Wave I innovator Quest Agriculture's soil-testing activities.

Apply Now! USAID, SIDA and the Netherlands

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MFA-NL) recently announced the third call for groundbreaking innovations under Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development.

Launched in 2013, the program aims to help address water scarcity - one of the most pressing development challenges of the early 21st Century. By sourcing and accelerating innovations in water efficiency , water capture and storage, among others, the initiative is working to make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.

The current $12.5 million global call for proposals has an increased focus on cutting-edge, advanced technologies and business models, as well as innovations that prioritize the engagement of women. Awardees will receive between $100,000 and $3 million in funding and acceleration support to bring their innovations to scale. Awardees must continually demonstrate their progress through milestone-based funding.

Read more about this third call here or click here to apply now!  The deadline for applications is May 23rd.  
Past issues of the bulletin

April 2014
                     March 2014