Africa-UK AgriFood Innovation Mission Week 1 Project Pitch Winner: 'More Crops Less Water'

Participants of the first Africa-UK AgriFood Pitch Competition voted project presentation ‘More Crops Less Water’ as the winning pitch!

Posted on: 30/06/2020

Participants of the first Africa-UK AgriFood Pitch Competition voted project presentation ‘More Crops Less Water’ as the winning pitch!

Global Food Security

Paul Smith, Head of Development, Aquagrain, presented his project pitch for ‘More Crops, Less Water’ during the first week of the Africa-UK AgriFood Innovation Mission.


How big of an issue are drylands?

Approximately 71% of the world surface is covered by oceans, seas, freshwater, which leaves 29% for land. Of that 29%, there are areas so scarce of water where there are no rivers and rain very rarely falls, and we call these areas ‘drylands’. According to the United Nations, drylands cover more than 40% of all habitable land. That is a staggering amount. Two billion people call drylands home. That’s a lot of people to feed, and this is before we take into account the unprecedented rate of population growth, and other external factors such as climate change, Covid-19 and other diseases that all have a tremendous impact on food, water, land degradation and life.

Solutions are needed. Fast.

What is AquaGrain and how can it help?

Aquagrain’s More Crops, Less Water was the winning pitch at the Africa-UK AgriFood Innovation Mission 2020 (Southern and Central Africa) as voted by delegates who attended the webinar. The virtual mission, brought by KTN and Innovate UK are the next stage in the delivery of the GCRF AgriFood Africa programme.



Aquagrain is a small granule that is integrated into the growing substrate at a ratio of 1% in containers, or 250 to 1000 kg per hectare in the field, depending on crop, soil and climate conditions. In addition to absorbing water, Aquagrain contains nutrients, trace elements and organic material which slowly break down providing water and food for plants whilst at the same time increasing soil fertility by the addition of organic matter and the stimulation of Microbes in the soil.

Aquagrain has demonstrated a number of benefits to plants grown in sandy soils. Trials at Cambridge University’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) demonstrated the benefit Aquagrain has in prolonging plant life in water stressed conditions.



Tomato plants were irrigated normally until mature and then irrigation was ceased as you can see in the images below. After 9 days under water stress the plants without Aquagrain had reached permanent wilt point but the Aquagrain plants continued to grow, thrive and fruit.





Paul Smith presented during Week 1 of the Africa-UK AgriFood Virtual Mission. Download Aquagrain’s Project Pitch here.

Recordings are available for Week 1, 2 and 3 on the GCRF AgriFood Programme Page here. You can also find out more information and register for Week 4 here and you can watch Paul’s pitch in the video presentation below.

Click here for video

Africa-UK AgriFood Innovation Mission – Week 1 Pitch Competition: Paul Smith, Aquagrain ‘More Crops Less Water’.

Call for Trial Partners

If you are an academic or commercial grower of crops in sandy soils, particularly in hot, dry, climates and would like to contact Aquagrain for collaboration opportunities, please do so using the details below as Aquagrain are now looking for Trial Partners with suitable trial facilities.

Paul Smith



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