SENEGAL – The recent announcement of the winners of the youth competition on “Smart Food Safety,” which sought innovations on smartphone applications to help small business owners adopt better food handling practices, has marked a significant advancement in Senegal’s food safety culture.

The Youth Food Safety Application Competition was introduced in April 2021 as part of the Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS) initiative, which is financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Food businesses in emerging economies such as Senegal are in a position to not only reduce the transmission of foodborne illness but also to drive a culture of food safety, according to BD4FS. 

Through receiving education and training on hygiene and other food safety topics, food businesses are armed with the information needed to adopt better practices and to encourage food businesses throughout the supply chain to do the same.

Young software engineers were sought for the competition to create cutting-edge teaching strategies for food safety, especially for young entrepreneurs.

Technical judges selected from among the best experts in the field in Senegal worked with BD4FS, administered by Food Enterprise Solutions (FES), and its partner Feed the Future Youth in Agriculture (YiA), implemented by Virginia Tech University.

Ten finalists were chosen from a total of 14 young developers that entered the competition, and they were asked to pitch their ideas to the judges.

Out of the ten ideas, three were chosen as finalists, including Samba the Fisherman from Soumbédioune presented by Angelo Dafia, Founder of Korapps, a software engineering company; the SSA Quiz (Food Safety Quiz) presented by freelance Developers Cheikh Omar Kane and Racine Ofens Seck; and NA RESS AK JAM presented by Mamadou Jean Baptiste Niassy and Cedric Adougba

Winning innovations

The first-place winner, “Samba the Fisherman from Soumbédioune,” received. For this innovation, the user walks with a fisherman through his journey of safely preserving the food he has captured.

The user is given a number of choices for how they want Samba to behave in order to achieve the greatest results for food safety.

Angelo Dafia, winner of the first prize noted that working on the project was a very rewarding experience for him since it’s rare to find games that are 100% African.

“One might believe (wrongly) that we are not able to make them. This project allowed me to take up this technical challenge, and dream bigger. I noticed the same effect around me where the fact that when a video game is developed here it makes many people happy. This translates into a little over a hundred cumulative downloads, without having yet launched our communication plan,” he said.

He pointed out that the outcomes were favorable for his company, which was able to hire new employees and collaborate with them on issues that concern the continent, thanks to this project.

“The prize gives us a certain impetus to continue to change the lives of our fellow citizens through digital transformation. We feel that we have helped to open our eyes to food safety issues, and we hope to do even more in the future,” Angelo concluded.

The SSA Quiz which took second place and bagged U.S$ 10,000, is an introduction to and improvement of general knowledge on the handling, storing, and preparing of food. It also covers questions on the prevention of foodborne illnesses, personal cleanliness, and other important food safety practices.

Photos and videos on the best ways to carry out food safety practices are used to explain every segment.

Volkeno, an IT company engaged by YiA, provided the top two winners with six months of technical and marketing support.

Experts in food safety from BD4FS provided technical guidance on food safety.

BD4FS continues to support the app developers to achieve their objectives, namely, to raise awareness of food losses in the artisanal fishing sector by users of the Samba the Fisherman application and to train staff of agri-food companies on food safety practices by the SSA QUIZ. Both companies hope to achieve at least 500 downloads each.

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