Online entries for global sugar producer AB Sugar’s Innovate Irrigation Challenge, which is aimed at generating new ideas to reduce water losses from irrigation in the sugar industry, will be open for a 48-hour period over June 19 and 20.
The global initiative was launched by AB Sugar in partnership with WaterAid and the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge.
Entries can be submitted at www.absugar.com/innovateirrigation.
An expert panel of judges will select a winner, who will have the opportunity to potentially work with AB Sugar and its partners to test the viability of their idea in the field.
With the increasing threat posed by the depletion of water resources, the organisations involved in developing this pilot initiative trust the challenge will help stimulate new ideas, AB Sugar says.
“We are all witnessing the ever-increasing pressure on water resources. We see this day in and day out in our businesses across the world – which is why we have already signaled our global commitment to reduce our end-to-end supply chain water and carbon dioxide footprints by 30% by 2030,” AB Sugar advocacy head Katharine Teague notes.
She explains that sugar production is water intensive and that the company is continually taking steps to conserve it by improving its water efficiency per tonne of sugar produced and driving water stewardship by using less water.
Through the challenge, AB Sugar hopes to encourage idea generation that can help solve one of the trickiest issues not only in the sugar industry, but also in the global agriculture sector as a whole.
WaterAid senior policy analyst Virginia Newton-Lewis says 844-million people in the world do not have access to clean water close to home, while there is a real risk that climate change may further threaten scarce water resources.
She adds that it is vital to explore ways to boost the amount of water available for people who need it most.
“One way of doing this is by finding new techniques to reduce water use and reuse wastewater in agriculture.”
It is for this reason that the University of Cambridge Centre for Industrial Sustainability’s Professor Steve Evans highlighted that “reducing water loss from irrigation in agriculture is no mean feat and the existing tools that farmers have at their disposal are unlikely to be sufficient”.
He adds that this means new ideas are needed “from bright and passionate people” to help solve the problem.