Food Security in IndiaIn Telangana, South India, artificial intelligence (AI) helps address food security by helping farmers. The country is a prime example of how emerging AI technology is applied to global issues. The Indian government, in collaboration with agricultural aid organizations, has launched an AI program called Saalu Baagu. This program aims to use AI-based tools to solve agricultural challenges. AI programs and emerging technologies are experiencing ongoing growth and expansion in the country.

AI and Farming

The Telangana government divided its AI implementation process into distinct phases. Phase one focused on introducing a variety of AI-based agritech services to thousands of farmers. Phase two reached more than 20,000 chili and groundnut farmers in three districts. The project began in 2022 and has received the support of various AI tech companies and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Saagu Baagu program has had major success with farmers and crop yields, specifically chili crops. The program has enabled AI-focused startup companies like AgNext, a company helping farmers assess the quality and physical attributes of their chiles. Over 18 months, Indian farmers have experienced a 21% increase in plant growth per acre and a 9% decrease in pesticide usage. More than 500,000 farmers are now engaged in the program and have utilized AI tools in their farming.

The success of the Saagu Baagu signifies the potential for AI to help not just agriculture in India but also crop health on a global scale. AI has helped to address food security in India through revolutionary and adaptable technology that could work in a variety of agricultural environments. The program’s impact in Telangana has exemplified the ability of emerging AI technologies to assist modern farming techniques and strategies. Planting schedules, crop health and yield predictions are all challenges faced by farmers that AI has been able to leviate and make more efficient.

The Future of AI and Food Security

AI could help feed the world and prevent global hunger now and in the foreseeable future. “AI is going to transform the way we produce, store, distribute and market food in ways that will improve food safety, efficiency, resilience and sustainability,” said Gbola Adesogan, associate vice president and director of the Global Food Systems Institute. Efficient and sustainable farming will be the key to global food security.

AI is playing a pivotal role in addressing food security in India. Additionally, it holds promise for farmers worldwide in the future:

  1. It facilitates the analysis of vast data sets, enabling the development of resilient crops capable of withstanding various environmental challenges.
  2. AI offers valuable insights to farmers regarding soil conditions, optimal planting times and harvest periods, thereby enhancing agricultural productivity.
  3. AI technology aids in the early detection of diseases and pests, enabling proactive measures to safeguard crops and maximize yields.

AI has proven to be an incredibly useful tool in empowering farmers to face modern economic and environmental challenges. Technology will be essential to combating global food security and poverty through agriculture.

– Jacob Buckner

Jacob is based in Raleigh, NC, USA and focuses on Technology and Solutions for The Borgen Project.

Photo: Flickr

Irrigation Farming in NepalThe ability to produce food for oneself and others is a cornerstone of human survival. It is the most crucial factor in maintaining a healthy population. The food production industry operates worldwide. Different countries have varying amounts of arable land and resources, leading to differences in their ability to feed growing populations well. Food needs are significant, but it is hard to raise enough. Farmers are experimenting with new techniques, such as irrigation farming in Nepal.

Nepal and the Land

Nestled in the heart of South Asia, Nepal boasts a population of more than 30 million people. Within its borders, the vibrant capital city of Kathmandu accommodates 1.5 million residents, representing a significant portion of the 21.9% of the population dwelling in urban settings.

Nepal boasts a diverse geographical landscape, encompassing the towering heights of Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Despite its stunning natural features, Nepal is landlocked, without direct access to water bodies. Instead, the country relies on its intricate river system for water access, yet this reliance has translated into only 28.8% of its land being arable.

Despite the limited arable land available, agriculture is a cornerstone of Nepal’s economy, occupying a prominent position within the nation’s economic framework. Approximately two-thirds of Nepal’s workforce is engaged in agricultural activities, with maize, rice and wheat emerging as the primary crops cultivated. However, with the country’s population on the rise and urbanization expanding, the pressure on arable land intensifies, necessitating the adoption of farming practices that can adapt to these evolving conditions.

Irrigation Farming

Given these considerations, irrigation farming has emerged as a viable solution to Nepal’s challenges. Irrigation farming involves the artificial delivery of water to the soil using various methods such as pipes, sprays and tubes. This technique is invaluable in areas with insufficient rainfall or constrained water access. Typically, water is sourced from alternative reservoirs like groundwater, rivers or wells. It is then meticulously distributed across the land, ensuring uniform coverage.

Nepal tailors its approach to irrigation farming to fit its unique environmental conditions. It results in diverse methods across its varied geography. Among the prevalent techniques is using Farmer Managed Irrigation Systems (FMIS), where farmers independently construct, operate and maintain the irrigation infrastructure with minimal external intervention. Although Nepalese farmers have passed down this practice through generations, the government formally acknowledged its immense value in expanding irrigation farming nationwide in 1980. The system operates through a surface irrigation system, recognized globally as the most prevalent irrigation method. In this system, water is evenly dispersed across the land, relying on gravity to permeate the soil as it flows downhill.

The irrigation system has proven to be remarkably effective in bolstering food production in Nepal. Farmers manage approximately 70% of all irrigated farmland in the country through the FMIS. Furthermore, a substantial 40% of the domestically cultivated food in Nepal stems from the multitude of operational FMIS. Notably, the Terai region, renowned for its extensive arable land, hosts 1,700 irrigation systems managed by the organization’s farmers. Meanwhile, the hill regions boast a staggering 15,000 in operation.

Conclusion

While it serves as a remedy for the escalating food demand, Nepal faces mounting challenges amid population growth and dwindling natural water reservoirs due to rising temperatures and the changing climate. Nevertheless, irrigation farming in Nepal stands poised to mitigate food insecurity by introducing innovative cultivation methods. As farmers contend for water resources, it becomes imperative to sustainably manage FMIS systems, thereby facilitating the establishment of irrigation systems without depleting land resources.

– Alexandra Straumann
Photo: Flickr

Food Systems in ColombiaA food system is a complex network of activities involved in getting food from the field to the plate. This includes the production, processing, transport and consumption of food. To ensure a streamlined and successful food system, the governance, economics and sustainability of food production all require attention, as well as food waste — all with the goal of ensuring the maintenance of individual, population and environmental health throughout the process.

Food systems have historically been intertwined with wider economic and social issues. Inequalities in the food systems of a country or region often reflect the inequalities found in society. This article will delve into the current and future food systems in Colombia, focusing on the Medellin and Valle del Cauca regions.

Current Food Systems in Colombia

Colombia is Latin America’s fourth largest economy with various fertile zones that allow it to grow a large range of products, including its major agricultural export, coffee. Find below two case studies portraying the struggles faced in local Colombian food systems, and the programs working towards a brighter future.

Case Study: Medellin

Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city, lies within a fertile agricultural zone and has been proactive in implementing sustainable urban practices in recent years. However, it still faces challenges. Medellin’s municipalities are extremely fragmented, with a significant disconnect between rural and urban areas, as well as a distinct inequality amongst internal territories. All of which accumulate in food system inefficiencies.

In order to solve these issues, urban areas must have the tools for greater self-sufficiency while also building closer connections to rural areas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when food shortages were choke holding the country, a municipal program of urban and peri-urban gardens called Huertas para el Abastecimiento, generated alternative food supplies and facilitated the production of secure distribution channels. This initiative mobilized 20 tons of food within the first two weeks of quarantine, when many were fearful of dwindling food supplies. 

The influence of the City Council and organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has also been critical in the shift towards food security in Medellin. They have been instrumental in supporting farmers with transportation services, consolidating relationships between local producers and private companies, and redistributing food supplies to popular canteens where the most vulnerable populations find food. There are even digital Farmer’s Markets where networks of farmers and local citizens are communicating to establish a local supply of produce in Medellin neighborhoods. A combination of all these efforts has been beneficial in integrating territories and establishing a secure food system for Medellin communities.

Case Study: Valle del Cauca

Valle del Cauca is a region along the southwest of Colombia, hugging the Pacific coastline. An assessment by The New Economy for Food and Land Use (FOLU) in March 2022 found that only 58% of the area’s food needs were being met with malnutrition in the department’s capital, Cali, being particularly high. With a large proportion of the population relying on a diet of cheap, ultra-processed foods, Valle del Cauca has seen a rise in health issues such as obesity. Furthermore, the overexploitation of the region’s forest and wetlands for agricultural uses has led to land degradation and soil erosion, threatening future crop growth.

FOLU Colombia is an organization working to transform Valle del Cauca’s food system through sustainable growth and a regenerative agricultural economy. FOLU connects a coalition of unions, academics, private investors and government bodies to determine better land-use and food policies that take the growing environmental challenges into account. FOLU’s roadmap states that “the productivity of workers in the agricultural and forestry sector is one of the lowest in the Colombian economy and this sector has the highest rates of informal employment in the country,” stating that “a new economy of food and soil use would reverse this situation.”

The Future of Food Systems

Changing weather patterns are only going to enhance the challenges faced for food growers across the world. Coffee farmers in Colombia are already seeing temperature rises and drought take a toll on their crops — it is thought that these extreme weather events could reduce Colombia’s coffee production by up to 50%.

Building community-led, inclusive programs like those outlined above is crucial to breaking down barriers between different areas and forming cohesive, sustainable and resilient food systems in Colombia that supply sufficient food to all, even in the face of a changing climate.

Rachael Cooper
Photo: Flickr

Tobacco Production Impacts Food SecurityThe same land that provides life also causes death: The same soil that produces energy resources, fruits, vegetables and minerals also yields a product that kills 8 million people each year: tobacco. Here is how tobacco production impacts food security.

How Tobacco Production Affects Farmers

Unfortunately, tobacco not only causes death and diseases to those who are smokers or breathe secondhand smoke. Dr. Ruediger Krech, Director of Health Promotion at WHO, points out that tobacco production causes illnesses to farmers, as they are “exposed to chemical pesticides, tobacco smoke and as much nicotine as found in 50 cigarettes.” Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 1 million children work in tobacco farms, being deprived of education.

The countries with more need to produce food are paradoxically those that produce the most tobacco. Nine of the 10 nations with the highest tobacco cultivation rates are low- and middle-income nations, according to WHO

How Tobacco Production Impacts Food Security

Also, because tobacco production takes up fertile land, it exacerbates the food security issues in these countries. As a result of the crop’s growth-induced deforestation, water source contamination and soil deterioration, the environment and the populations that depend on it also suffer.

A record 349 million people experience extreme food insecurity across 79 countries. Many of them are in more than 30 African nations where tobacco growing has expanded by 15% over the past 10 years, according to the agency’s new report “Grow food, not tobacco.”

Transitioning Tobacco Farming to Food Crops

More than 124 countries cultivate tobacco, occupying 3.2 million hectares of arable land that farmers could use for food production. In order to shift this situation, WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have partnered to back the Tobacco Free Farms initiative. Through this plan, more than 5,000 farmers in Kenya and Zambia will receive assistance in switching from tobacco to sustainable food crops. 

There are other examples of countries that have found a new way to end global hunger by switching from tobacco farming to food crops. In Bulgaria, despite European Union subsidies for tobacco production, many farmers have effectively transitioned to cultivating nuts, berries or engaging in animal husbandry. This shift has marginalized the role of tobacco in Bulgarian agriculture, leading to significant economic growth and improved living standards in major villages within established tobacco regions.

Similarly, Indonesia has seen success in transitioning tobacco farmers to alternative crops like cashews, sweet potatoes, corn and green vegetables, resulting in increased profits.

Progress in China and Malaysia

In regions like China’s Yunnan province, there has been a notable reduction in tobacco cultivation since 2012. Thousands of farmers have embraced the shift toward growing vegetables and fruits, experiencing higher net incomes due to initiatives promoting tobacco crop substitution.

Malaysia’s government has supported tobacco farmers in transitioning to cultivating kenaf, a plant used for high-quality paper, biocomposites and bioplastics. This transition has shown promising returns on investment with minimal expenditure of time, money and labor. 

Transition to Food Crops in New Zealand and Sri Lanka

Similarly, in New Zealand’s Motueka region, government incentives for tobacco farming have been removed, allowing farmers to successfully transition to cultivating hops, kiwis and apples. These examples illustrate that viable alternatives to tobacco farming are not only possible but are already underway in various regions around the world.

In 2021, the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol in Sri Lanka launched a pilot project in the Anuradhapura and Monaragala districts aimed at encouraging the cultivation of alternative crops instead of tobacco. This initiative yielded significant results, with a remarkable 91% reduction in tobacco cultivation observed in Anuradhapura and a 57% reduction in Monaragala. 

In Anuradhapura, 30% of farmers transitioned to cultivating vegetables while 16% turned to paddy cultivation. Conversely, in Monaragala, the majority of farmers opted to grow crops like peanuts, sesame and cowpeas. The success of this pilot project underscores the potential of sustainable agricultural practices in fostering economically viable alternatives to tobacco farming and addressing how tobacco production impacts food security.

Looking Ahead

It is important and at the same time gratifying that in the face of a situation such as that presented by tobacco cultivation and its negative influences on farmers and consumers alternatives are established throughout the world. These not only imply tobacco’s progressive disappearance but also reverse the situation, finding a new way to end global hunger by making the means and efforts to serve food production and helping those most in need.

Christian Teruel
Photo: Flickr

Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles, the humble staple of college students and budget-conscious individuals, emerge as powerful tools for addressing poverty, fostering entrepreneurship and providing emergency relief. Beyond their affordability and widespread popularity, ramen noodles possess unique qualities that make them well-suited for tackling various socioeconomic challenges.

Ramen for Emergency Relief

A key advantage of ramen noodles in the fight against poverty is their extended shelf life. When stored properly, these dried or instant noodles can last for months or even up to a year. This longevity makes them invaluable resources in times of crisis, such as natural disasters or humanitarian emergencies. When disaster strikes, access to food becomes a pressing concern. With their long shelf life, ramen noodles can be stockpiled and distributed efficiently to affected communities. Their simplicity in preparation — just boiling water is required — ensures that even in dire circumstances, people can access a hot meal. 

Initiatives like the World Instant Noodles Association’s (WINA) “Donation of Noodles” program highlight the global reach of ramen as a tool for poverty alleviation. WINA’s efforts involve providing substantial quantities of instant noodles to regions affected by disasters or economic challenges, helping secure access to food for millions of people. In February 2023, WINA donated 100,000 servings of instant noodles to the regions affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake.

Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Beyond emergency relief, the income-generating potential of ramen noodles can catalyze entrepreneurship, particularly in low-income communities. Many small entrepreneurs around the world have harnessed the appeal of ramen noodles to create thriving businesses. One particular noodle-related success story comes from Hualong County in Qinghai Province, China. Residents of Hualong have used lamian (hand-pulled noodles) to lift themselves out of poverty. A decade ago, nearly half of Hualong’s 300,000-plus residents lived in poverty. Through the development of the lamian industry, Hualong County successfully eradicated poverty in the region. Currently, around 17,000 hand-pulled noodle restaurants, run by Hualong natives, operate across China, with an annual output value of 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) and involving 110,000 local people. The country’s government has also introduced initiatives to support poverty-stricken individuals in the lamian industry, leading to thousands emerging from poverty. 

A Path to Food Security

Ramen noodles offer a cost-effective solution for individuals and families struggling with food insecurity. Their affordability allows people on limited budgets to access filling and nourishing meals. This accessibility is vital in the fight against poverty, as inadequate nutrition can perpetuate a cycle of poor health and limited economic opportunities. By providing a source of convenient and satisfying sustenance, these organizations support vulnerable populations in maintaining their well-being. 

Challenges and Considerations

While ramen noodles offer a range of benefits in poverty alleviation, it’s important to acknowledge potential challenges. One concern is the nutritional quality of instant ramen, which can be high in sodium and lack essential nutrients. Organizations and individuals working with ramen for poverty alleviation must consider the need for a balanced diet and explore ways to supplement ramen with fresh and nutritious ingredients. Furthermore, the environmental impact of single-use packaging associated with instant ramen is a concern. Sustainable packaging options and responsible consumption practices are essential to mitigate this issue. 

Conclusion

Ramen noodles, often seen as simple and convenient meals, possess remarkable potential to alleviate poverty, foster entrepreneurship and provide emergency relief. Their long shelf life makes them invaluable in crises, their affordability makes them accessible to those on tight budgets and their popularity has fueled entrepreneurial ventures worldwide. By recognizing the diverse ways ramen is a tool for positive change, individuals, organizations and governments can work together to unlock the potential of this humble noodle to create a more equitable and nourished world.

– Genevieve Martin
Photo: Flickr

Horn of Africa Climate Crisis
For the last 40 years, the greater Horn of Africa has borne the brunt of changing weather patterns and its knock-on effects. Extended periods of extreme heat and poor rainfall have led to conditions of drought in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. This has affected crop growth and grazing land for animals, destabilizing already fragile subsistence farms and causing widespread hunger, thirst and desperation. Here is some information about what some are doing to address hunger in the Horn of Africa.

The Situation

Despite heavier rainfall during the wet season of 2023, the soil has become parched, damaged by severe and long-term drought and no longer able to absorb water. Floods have destroyed roads, washed away livestock and forced the closure of schools and medical facilities, on top of famine and water insecurity. More than 11 million people have become climate refugees, forced to leave their homes to seek pasture, food, water and medical treatment.

These factors have increased the risk of illness and disease. Contaminated water sources from flooding spread cholera, measles and other waterborne diseases. The nature of changing weather patterns means that extreme weather events such as these may occur more frequently and with more intensity. The resilience of these communities is reducing; many households are unable to bounce back before another onslaught of sickness, famine and financial loss.

Food Insecurity in the Horn of Africa

The number of people experiencing acute food insecurity has reached 45.8 million, with children among the most at risk. Four consecutive dry periods have killed crops and livestock, reducing the nutritious food available and food prices have inflated due to scarcity. The number of children under 5 years old suffering from malnutrition has skyrocketed to more than 7 million, with 1.9 million children at risk of death across seven countries. 

UNICEF

UNICEF issued an appeal in 2022, calling for funding to provide critical, life-saving treatment such as ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). Supported by donors, the organization addressed hunger in the Horn of Africa by assisting 30 million children and mothers at risk of malnutrition through education, nutrition, immunization and child protection services. Immediate actions also included addressing the water insecurity crisis by drilling water boreholes to improve community resilience to future climate emergencies. Investments in government child social schemes, in addition to nutrition and health systems, address the need for longer-term resilience. 

The World Health Organization (WHO)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been instrumental in coordinating efforts to treat diseases and provide food, water and sanitation. In Kenya, a rapid response team at county and sub-county levels was established to detect, report on and respond to drought early on. The government food and health emergency plan was revised in Ethiopia, as were the drought response activities. In Somalia, the WHO collaborated with UNICEF and 53 health partners to address the needs of internally displaced people. International cooperation between Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya will combat the cholera outbreak. In Uganda, the WHO is responding to the measles outbreak by assisting with vaccinations and donating equipment to manage the number of cases. Along with the Ministry of Health, the WHO is training health workers, including nutrition leads, to manage health complications in Djibouti. 

Prompt responses to the effects of drought are crucial to the reduction of hunger in the Horn of Africa. Long-term damage to children’s well-being and devastation to livelihoods and the economy can be averted through a timely and well-coordinated course of action.

– Lydia Greene
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in Bangladesh 
In Bangladesh, approximately 40 million people face the harsh reality of food insecurity, including 11 million individuals dealing with acute hunger. Natural disasters have increased food insecurity, leading to a reduction in essential crop yields as follows: rice by 17% and wheat by a substantial 61%. The enhancement of rural agriculture initiatives offers practical solutions. These solutions are effectively improving food security in Bangladesh, while also having significant positive impacts on the entire nation.

Enhancing Agriculture for Food Security

From 2019, crucial programs sought to improve food security in Bangladesh, addressing the pressing issue of food poverty in the region. More than 225,000 farmers received support to adopt modern agronomic practices, focusing on irrigation, livestock management and pest and disease control. The leveraging of $2.2 million to enhance the business performance of high-value crop producers, thereby significantly increasing agricultural productivity and improving livelihoods in rural areas and further contributing to the alleviation of food poverty, complemented this effort. Additionally, these programs empowered 75,000 women, enabling them to apply improved management practices and technologies, both on and away from the farm, which played a vital role in the fight against food poverty.

Weather-Resilient Agriculture for Increased Food Security

In a recent collaboration between the government of Bangladesh and the World Bank, a $120 million financing agreement was signed to advance food security through the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Water Management Project. This project modernizes flood management, drainage and irrigation infrastructures to enhance climate resilience in agriculture. It reduces crop damage from floods by 60% across 120,000 hectares of land.

Empowering 100,000 farmers with knowledge and skills related to climate-smart agricultural technologies, crop diversification and post-harvest management was also another goal of the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Water Management Project, aiming to fortify their resilience against weather challenges and ultimately mitigate the cycle of food poverty in the region. It also supports rice and fish/shrimp farming through the establishment of cold storage facilities and local market improvements, with expected outcomes including increased fisheries productivity by almost 37%, a 10% rise in vegetable production and a 7.5% boost in rice production, all contributing to food security.

Agriculture as a Key Driver of Poverty Reduction

Agriculture plays a crucial role in reducing poverty in Bangladesh. From 2000 to 2010, the poverty rate dropped from 48.9% to 31.5%, with more than 87% of rural people earning some income through farming. This progress resulted from investments in irrigation, high-yield crops, efficient markets and mechanization.

To continue reducing food insecurity and poverty, Bangladesh needs to focus on high-value agriculture, like horticulture, livestock, poultry and fisheries. This diversification is essential for future growth, particularly because two-thirds of rural households depend on both farming and other income sources. This pro-poor agricultural growth also boosts the non-farm economy, ultimately improving food security.

A Multifaceted Approach to Food Security

Food security in Bangladesh is a multifaceted challenge. Nonetheless, the collaborative efforts by USAID, the World Bank and the government of Bangladesh contribute to food security improvement. By improving agriculture and promoting climate-resilient practices, these initiatives alleviate food insecurity and poverty. Continued investment and development in these programs provide optimism for a brighter and more secure future for the people of Bangladesh.

Through initiatives like climate-resilient agriculture and agricultural diversification, Bangladesh is making significant strides in its battle against food insecurity. Continued investment from the government and international organizations holds the promise of a future where food security is a reality for all.

– Marnie Woodford-Venables
Photo: Flickr

Vertical Farming in SingaporeVertical farming, an innovative approach to agriculture, is offering new hope for food security in Singapore. The city-state, with limited land for traditional agriculture, has embraced the concept of growing crops vertically within controlled environments. As the global demand for sustainable food sources rises, vertical farming in Singapore is a typical example of how cities can feed their populations without relying heavily on imports.

Ambitious Local Goals

In 2019, the Singaporean government, through the Singapore Food Authority (SFA), set a target to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030, a significant increase from the less than 10% produced locally at the time the goal was set. This initiative, named “30 by 30,” pushed local enterprises to think creatively about urban farming solutions. Vertical farming quickly became a frontrunner in the quest to meet these targets. 

Sky Greens’ Innovations

One of the leading companies in this space is Sky Greens. Established in 2012, Sky Greens created the world’s first low-carbon hydraulic water-driven vertical farming system. This marked a significant stride in utilizing green urban solutions to enhance food supply security in Singapore. 

The vertical farming system is a tall A-frame structure with rotating shelves, which allows plants to receive uniform sunlight. This system uses just 0.5 liters of water to rotate a 1.7-ton vertical structure, with the water being recycled and reused within an enclosed underground reservoir system. The structures use gravity to rotate the rows of plants, ensuring equal distribution of nutrients and sunlight to each row. These towers are highly productive, producing ten times the yield compared to traditional soil-based farms covering the same area. Since its inception, Sky Greens has played a crucial role in Singapore’s urban farming scene, contributing to the local food supply and providing a model for sustainable agriculture in urban settings.

ComCrop’s Rooftop Farming and Aquaponics

Founded in 2011, ComCrop, another leading example in this sector, operates Singapore’s largest rooftop farm. ComCrop’s farm has 6,000 square feet on the rooftop of Scape, along Orchard Road. They also launched a new 36,000-square-foot rooftop farm complex in Woodlands in October 2018. 

The farm grows a variety of crops using advanced hydroponic technology which enables them to grow produce using less resources while achieving a greater harvest. This technology also uses 90% less water compared to traditional farming. ComCrop’s innovative system produces 150 kg of vegetables monthly and has the capacity to produce over 25,000 kg of produce in the first full year of production at their new farm complex in Woodland.

ComCrop directly supplies its produce to various food and beverage outlets within the vicinity of Scape, ensuring fresh delivery on the same day they are harvested. They emphasize sustainable farming practices and aim to reduce Singapore’s dependence on imported vegetables, and in doing so, they contribute to local food security.

Governmental Support and Global Implications

Singapore’s vertical farming success has been further bolstered by governmental support. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has been actively encouraging local enterprises to venture into high-tech farming through grants and funding. These incentives, combined with private sector creativity, have put Singapore at the forefront of urban farming globally.

Yet, vertical farming is more than just a technological spectacle, it is a testament to Singapore’s resilience and forward-thinking. As the climate crisis intensifies and land becomes more scarce, innovative solutions like vertical farming will be critical in addressing global food security concerns.

For countries or cities with limited agricultural spaces, Singapore’s story provides a beacon of hope and a blueprint to follow. By integrating technology with agriculture and combining private initiative with governmental support, it is evident that cities can indeed become self-reliant in food production. The future of farming is not just on the ground, it is in the sky too.

– Laeticia Mbangue
Photo: Unsplash

Food Security in Zambia
 Zambia, situated in Southern Africa, is renowned for its abundant natural beauty and wildlife, showcased in its many national parks. Yet, one critical issue that often receives insufficient attention in Zambia is the ongoing lack of food security that its people confront daily.

Population and Food Poverty

Zambia has a large population of 17.4 million, 48% of whom suffer from an array of illnesses due to malnutrition and under-eating. Because of this, 35% of children have stunted growth, meaning that these children will not grow to their full capabilities and are already being restricted from a young age.

That being said, there has been an improvement in the income of Zambia. In 2011, it was recorded to have received a lower-middle income status. This shows how things may be improving for the country overall, but that does not mean that they have reached a comfortable point, nor does it mean that the entire population is experiencing this improvement. There are still parts of Zambia that are progressing more slowly than others. 

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Food Security

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the lack of food security massively in Zambia. Alongside other factors like climate shocks, Knowledge For Poverty reports the country has experiencedprolonged dry spells, flooding, reduced livelihood opportunities due to restrictions linked to COVID-19, pests and diseases and high input and food prices.”

Although the pandemic had a knock-on effect globally, Zambia — a nation on its way out of poverty — is unfortunately back at square one. The rural areas were responsible for housing 60% of the population, which was affected the most. Furthermore, 54% of the Zambia population has been living on under $1.90 a day, which is significantly lower than the amount needed to live.

Malnutrition and Early Childhood

One of the main issues within Zambia is the effects of malnutrition. In a USAID report, the organization explored the cases of malnutrition among children and concluded: “Nationally, 40% of children under 5 years are stunted. Analysis by age group shows that stunting is highest (54%) in children 18–23 months and lowest (14%) in children under 6 months. Children in rural areas (42%) are more likely to be stunted than those in urban areas (36%).” This shows how severely the lack of food security within Zambia has and continues to affect children and highlights the importance of how people can help.

Feed The Hungry and African Vision of Hope

Feed The Hungry is a charity that works alongside the African Vision of Hope in order to reduce food poverty — particularly among children and young people — in Zambia. Together, these two charities are providing food for more than 5,000 children every day during school time to ensure that they at least have one sufficient meal and can focus on their studies in an attempt to break the poverty cycle. 

The work of charities such as these helps reduce the number of people affected by food poverty; however, it does not stop the issue itself. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in relation to malnutrition, and this highlights the need for more charities and other support systems to direct efforts toward alleviating food poverty.  

Zambia’s experience with food security has been up and down for many years, marked by periods of both success and challenges. Recently, it has faced a difficult period due to various factors. These include the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and significant fluctuations between droughts and floods. While the recovery is gradual, efforts are underway to improve the situation.

– Ella Bushell
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in SudanOn September 9, 2023, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched a new plan to tackle hunger in Sudan. The Emergency Livelihood Response Plan (ELRP) for Sudan will support Sudanese individuals affected by the ongoing civil war.

To fight hunger in Sudan, the FAO will boost agricultural prosperity in the distribution of supplies, including seeds and treatment equipment for livestock. The plan aims to support 10.1 million people in Sudan and claims it will require $123 million in funding to implement over the next 12 months. 

Food Security in Sudan

The food situation in Sudan has worsened since the outbreak of war on April 15, 2023, when the Sudanese Armed Forces clashed with the Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum. Violence and resulting displacement have significantly impacted the country’s food supply system, which has led to hunger and malnutrition within Sudanese communities. 

With a population of 48.6 million, more than 20 million (42% of Sudanese) are thought to be food insecure. Record high levels of food insecurity have been seen each year since 2020. As a result, the World Food Programme (WFP) has placed Sudan in the highest emergency response category. The Overarching goals of the WFP in Sudan in the wake of the crisis reflect some of the country’s most pressing issues: treatment for malnutrition, the provision of school meals and the wider employment of common services — namely, logistics and telecommunication. 

The FAO’s Latest Plan

Four main priorities front the FAO’s new strategy to improve the food security situation in Sudan: high-quality seed, livestock and veterinary support, fisheries support and cash+ modality. A shared action between these branches of support is the plan to target specific households, using data to determine the most vulnerable farmers or fishers. For example, they seek to know who will benefit significantly from the program. 

Cash+ modality is an extensive method of support. For the Sudan ELRP, using cash+ involves a combination of ‘unconditional cash assistance and in-kind support coupled with training during the dry season’ (FAO). It is a two-fold mechanism that will provide varied aid to vulnerable agricultural households. The FAO’s outline for its plan addresses the need for specially designed, time-sensitive assistance to ensure the food security situation in Sudan can improve all year round. 

As it tackles the issue of hunger, the ELRP for Sudan primarily comes under the progress of Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2), which aims to eradicate global hunger by 2030. The FAO also incorporates other SDGs into its plan for Sudan. For example, it will make progress towards SDG 5 (Gender Equality) in directing priority support towards female-headed agricultural households in the country since these households are statistically more food insecure than those headed by men. 

Conclusion

The FAO has a vast history of achievement, from its conception in 1945 to the present day. Amongst these successes, the FAO helped halve hunger statistics for individuals in Latin America and the Caribbean, currently maintains the largest global statistical database on food and agriculture and eradicated rinderpest. This disease proved fatal to livestock. 

Such a list of past achievements makes the FAO one of the key organizations in the fight to end extreme poverty. The planned improvement of food security and agricultural provisions in Sudan is a step towards advancing humanitarian aims and achieving global equality.

– Alice Weatherley
Photo: Unsplash