Mars Global Food Safety Center Shares Importance of Public Private Partnerships at Feed the Future Innovation Lab Annual Meeting 2020

08/07/2020
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At the Mars Global Food Safety Center we understand the value and importance of uncommon collaborations when it comes to ensuring food safety and security. In August, the Mars GFSC was proud to participate in the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss (PHLIL) virtual annual meeting“Crossing the Finish Line: Ensuring impact in the face of resilience shocks”.

The goal of the event was to exchange thoughts on sustainable partner hand-over and scaling of innovations to enhance food security, and to ensure resilience for global food systems.

As part of the event, Dr. Guangtao Zhang, Interim Director of the GFSC, had the opportunity to participate in a panel—“Private Sector Partners on Critical Factors to Carry Innovations Beyond the PHLIL Program” alongside industry leaders from a variety of backgrounds and sectors including, Tom Fayle from Arc'teryx Equipment Inc.; Dr. Georgina Bingham from Vestergaard; Isaac Sesi, founder and CEO of Sesi Technologies in Ghana; Marie Connett, who has rich experience in different industries; and Subrata Ranjan Das, Executive Director at ACI Motors Ltd in Bangladesh.

In the panel discussion, Dr. Guangtao Zhang emphasized at our belief that if it is not safe, it is not food. We have long dedicated resources to helping address food safety challenges impacting the global food supply chain. At the same time, we know that no single entity can tackle these challenges alone. Collaboration is critical.

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On a similar note, Dr Zhang was excited to share more about the recent work and partnership with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss in Nepal. The Mars GFSC was honored to help support a project helping to create a new mycotoxin laboratory at National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) in Nepal which opened in November 2018. The facility was set up by the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss (PHLIL), led by Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Nepal Development Research Institute, Tribhuvan University in Nepal, in collaboration with GFSC and with support from Romer China. We were able to share insights into mycotoxin lab design based on our own laboratory and research center experience.. As industry contributors, we were also able to recommend key pieces of equipment and facilitate the training of laboratory analysts and supervisors on laboratory methodologies within a Mars laboratory. The laboratory design and training serve as a blueprint that can be deployed at other similar facilities in developing countries across the region and globally, as well as other countries operating under the US Government’s Feed the Future initiative.

 

The MarsGFSC’sAbigail Stevenson and Guangtao Zhang participated in the PHLIL national mycotoxin stakeholder meeting in August 2019. At this meeting, more than a hundred national and international stakeholders, from across government, the private sector, civil society and research considered and prioritized components of a national aflatoxin intervention strategy. The foundation of these discussions and the priorities articulated by this group was the PHLIL mycotoxin survey results, which the Mars GFSC-supported NAST mycotoxin lab playeda leading role in producing. “Thanks to our collaboration with the Mars Global Food Safety Center, PHLIL has been able to provide the people of Nepal with knowledge and research capacity to address a critical constraint to food safety, nutrition and economic prosperity in Nepal “says Dr. Harvey, “We look forward to building on this success to move the needle on aflatoxin mitigation, with the GFSC as a key partner into a brighter future for global food systems.”

Both examples reinforce the need for collaboration and demonstrate the tangible difference that a multi-sector, multi-stakeholder approach can make. The reality is that many food safety and security challenge are bigger than any single organization or sector. Critical, lasting change often happens through collaboration and the exchange of knowledge, insights, and ideas. Overall, it is very encouraging to see the progress being made in understanding mycotoxins and exploring risk management solutions. That said, there is still much more to be accomplished.

At the Mars GFSC, we will continue to share new insights, facilitate dialogue, and help enable connections between groups and communities to help manage and mitigate mycotoxins, to help ensure safe food for all and a better world tomorrow. Above all, we’ll continue to do what we can to help enable collaboration. However, our work on this subject will continue as there is still much more to be accomplished – our advice is follow through and following up on these projects, to continue to improve and learn and build capability to protect those that are most vulnerable.

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