the first sugar company to launch global call for ideas to tackle irrigation water loss

Posted: Tuesday 7th May 2019

AB Sugar, in partnership with WaterAid and the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, has announced a worldwide initiative to generate new ideas to reduce water losses from irrigation in sugar, and beyond.

The Innovate Irrigation Challenge seeks to bring together people from across the globe to share their ideas on how to solve the challenge of water loss in agriculture. All entries are to be submitted in a 48-hour period during the 19 and 20 June 2019 online at www.absugar.com/innovateirrigation. This is the first-time we are aware that any sugar business has launched such an initiative, after AB Sugar became the first sugar business to launch its 2030 Group-wide commitments in April 2018.

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.

Katharine Teague, Head of Advocacy from AB Sugar said:

“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 signalled our global commitment to reduce our end-to-end supply chain water and CO2 footprints by 30% by 2030.

“Making sugar is water intensive and we are continually taking steps to conserve it by improving our water efficiency per tonne of sugar produced and driving water stewardship by using less drop per crop. However, there is always more we can do to further improve this at our plants located in challenging environments and climates. Our ambition with this Challenge is to encourage idea generation that could help solve one of the trickiest issues not only in sugar, but also in global agriculture as a whole”.

Virginia Newton-Lewis, Senior Policy Analyst at WaterAid, said:

“A staggering 844 million people in the world don’t have access to clean water close to home and there is the real risk that climate change could threaten scarce water resources, so it’s vital that we 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.

“WaterAid is excited to support AB Sugar’s The Innovate Irrigation Challenge. Together, we can work towards a world where everyone everywhere has access to clean water for their basic needs.”

Professor Steve Evans, Director of the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing, said:

“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. That means we need new ideas from bright and passionate people to help us solve this problem. We are delighted to be part of this initiative and are looking forward to seeing the innovations put forward.” People who are interested in finding out more about The Innovate Irrigation Challenge can visit www.absugar.com/innovateIrrigation. They can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #InnovateIrrigation. Registration for the event will officially open on 28 May 2019.

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