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Dr. Prajwal Rajbhandari Wins the 2018 Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge

The project of Prajwal Rajbhandari, President of the Research Institute for Biosciences & Biotechnology in Nepal came in first for the Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge. His project, “Guava leaves as natural preservatives for farmers of Nepal” uses guava leaves to combat food spoilage.

The second place was won by Dr. Alessio Adamiano; his project involves turning fish bones into phosphate-rich fertilizer.

Dr. Rajbhandari and Adamiano. Image Credit: Luz Ines Banos Quintana.

The Backstory:

  • The Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge is a collaboration between the Elsevier Foundation and Elsevier’s chemistry journals.
  • The selection process began with more than 500 submissions and the five finalists made their pitch during the Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference in Berlin.

What they are saying:

  • “We are proud to award two projects with immediate relevance for communities in developing countries,” said Professor Dr. Klaus Küemmerer, Chair of the Challenge’s scientific jury.
  • “The top five proposals presented at this year’s Green and Sustainable Chemistry Conference were quite diverse and each of these projects could have been a winner,” said Rob van Daalen, Senior Publisher of Chemistry Journals at Elsevier. “Both winning projects are important and urgent, and they use local resources and local knowledge to improve the situation in their communities.”

The Details:

  • The grant for Dr. Rajbhandari’s project was EUR €50,000. Dr. Rajbhandari used guava leaves to make water-based sprayable natural preservative which can be used to prevent produce from being spoiled. Since Nepal doesn’t have cold chain technology or non-toxic preservatives readily available, nearly one-third of Nepal’s produce gets spoiled before it reaches the market each year.
  • His project if implemented effectively can be a huge help to make the produce last longer in the Nepali market.
  • He says, “Winning the Challenge is more than I could dream of. I can now scale up the project, and work with local teams to turn it into a success.”
  • Dr. Küemmerer, Chair of the Challenge’s scientific jury also said, “Using guava leaves as a natural preservative replaces toxic chemicals and can be easily implemented at a local level involving local people; directly allowing for the safe transport of fruits to the local market without any residues being dangerous for the consumer and the farmers.”
  • Elsevier Foundation has awarded more than 100 grants to non-profit organizations that focus their work on innovations in health information, diversity in Science, Technology & Mathematics (STM), research in developing countries and technology for development.

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