In its continued support of social entrepreneurship and the movement Towards Zero Food Waste (TZFW), DBS Bank India, in collaboration with Social Alpha, a startup incubation platform, has awarded grants of ₹44 lakhs each to five Indian startups, totaling to ₹2.2 crores – under the program ‘Techtonic – Innovations Towards Zero Food Waste’.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted annually. In India, about 40% of food produced is lost in the post-harvest value chain leading to nutritional insecurity and income loss for farmers. Techtonic – Innovations Towards Zero Food Waste is a two-year program that identifies startups working to reduce quantitative and qualitative food loss and waste.
The five winning social enterprises are Temperate Technologies, Krimanshi, Fermentech Labs, Pequrel Technologies and Raheja Solar. The grant provided through this partnership will help the winners bring their vision of reducing food loss in the post-harvest value chain to life, thus driving a positive environmental, livelihood, and economic impact.
Temperate Technologies will develop an off-the-shelf refrigeration unit that would help reduce the cost of cold storage systems, thus making it affordable for small and marginal farmers. Fermentech Labs is working on a bioreactor to convert waste into enzymes to service pilots in the food processing (bakery/ juice making) industry.
Krimanshi will use the capital to launch poultry and aqua feed by processing waste using insects and rearing insects for protein. Pequrel Technologies is using its money to establish Advanced Adaptable Agriculture Systems (A3S) platform, which would provide seed-to-sale support for farmers and solve energy requirements. And Raheja Solar will give the farmers enhanced, low-cost, easy-to-use solar dryers that will help protect their products and increase their income.
Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director – Group Strategic Marketing & Communications at DBS Bank India, commented on the programme, saying “The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) estimates that ~40% of the food produced in India is wasted every year due to a fragmented and infective supply chain. In addition, there is an increasing concern over the food security of nations in response to the acceleration of climate change and its effect on crop yields and farmer livelihoods. DBS Bank India has been committed to finding solutions to address the social, environmental and economic impact that food waste has on communities. We continue to support innovators and social entrepreneurs across Asia who are addressing the gaps in food and Agri value chains, reimagining the way we produce and consume so that we can build a sustainable future together.”
As a part of the program, aside from the grant, DBS Bank India will also provide training and mentoring support to these startups. In addition, the grants would also help these social enterprises conduct tests to validate their products, streamline operations, strengthen their marketing and branding capabilities, and scale up their business.
Manoj Kumar, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer at Social Alpha, said, “‘According to the U.N, an estimated one-third of all food produced (valued at around $1 trillion) ends up rotting in consumers’ and retailers’ bins or spoiling due to poor harvesting practices, post-harvest storage, or transportation. Food loss and waste impact food security and lead to the perpetuation of poverty, malnutrition, and poor health outcomes. Moreover, our food systems cannot be resilient if they are not sustainable. Our partnership with DBS Bank India has enabled Social Alpha to create an innovation, curation and venture development programme to address some of these challenges through the power of entrepreneurship.’’
Aside from Techtonic, and in its commitment Towards Zero Food Waste, DBS has partnered with the Akshaya Patra Foundation (APF) to upgrade kitchen facilities in government and government-aided schools in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. Through this partnership, Akshaya Patra Foundation will be able to scale up its current facilities to serve an additional 175k+ meals daily (current capacity 90K). Akshaya Patra is committed to Zero Waste production policies across its kitchen facilities in India.
DBS Bank India also works with its business clients to provide financing solutions to support sustainable supply chains across sectors, reducing food wastage for suppliers and processors. Earlier this year, it partnered with Stellapps, a tech start-up, to provide farmers with access to digitisation, increasing yields and profitability of small dairies across India.