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Expanding El Salvador's MarketsFor several years, El Salvador’s farmers have struggled to meet the increased demand of local supermarkets and restaurant chains. Food safety standards have been particularly difficult to meet, especially with a lack of local processing plants. However, these issues are being addressed by Accesso El Salvador’s partnerships with Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation, Super Selectos and Spring Genetics. Together, Accesso and these partner organizations are expanding El Salvador’s markets to improve the quality, quantity and profit of local Salvadoran products.

4 Partners Expanding El Salvador’s Markets

  1. Acceso El Salvador. Accesso originated in 2007 as the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP), which specialized in building social businesses and other development programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2020, CGEP became Accesso, an independent entity that focuses more specifically on establishing local agribusinesses to build markets and ease poverty conditions. Acceso has established businesses in El Salvador, Columbia, Alimentos and Haiti. Accesso El Salvador specializes in introducing smallholders to market networks and increasing their profit margins. Three ways it does this is by providing suppliers with sourcing and traceability services, supplying better-quality fertilizers and seed and by offering programs that teach agricultural skills. By improving smallholders’ output and sourcing their products to local businesses, Accesso El Salvador strengthens local markets. Since its establishment in 2014, this agribusiness has assisted more than 1,000 farmers and fishers.
  2. Super Selectos. Super Selectos is an example of a supermarket chain working in alliance with Acceso to expand El Salvador’s markets. The Cultivating Opportunities program, which began in 2012, is a prime example of the economic boost that such a partnership creates. In 2019 alone, Super Selectos purchased $11 million worth of products from more than 2,500 local smallholders. This marks a 50% increase in the supermarket chain’s local sourcing. Another aspect of the program is technical training. This, combined with the increased demand, allows farmers to dramatically diversify their crops and implement profitable planting rotations.
  3. Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation. In 2019, Accesso El Salvador partnered with Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation to expand Accesso’s agricultural programs and processing services, with the goal of adding 150 new farmers to Accesso’s network. A notable breakthrough was their joint project to establish the first vegetable processing facility in El Salvador for smallholders to meet the quality standards of major local supermarkets and restaurants. This not only secured a reliable market for farmers as well as suppliers for food chains but also increased the variety of crops that farmers can produce and the profit that follows such diversity. The new jobs that the plant created especially benefited women, allowing many to involve themselves in the agricultural community for the first time. Despite COVID-19’s impact in 2020, the partnership between Feed the Future and Acceso remained prolific, selling more than a million pounds of produce even in a time of restricted supply lines.
  4. Spring Genetics. Growing demand for high-quality tilapia spurred a 2019 partnership between Acceso and Spring Genetics, a world-recognized tilapia breeder that specializes in introducing beneficial methods and technologies to small-scale fisheries. Previously, El Salvador’s smallholder fisheries lost more than 75% of their final product value due to inefficient operations. Spring Genetics’ advanced technology and the introduction of its genetically-superior tilapia strain, promises a dramatic increase in these smallholders’ fortunes. Accesso holds up its end of the bargain by providing sole distribution services and making plans for a new fish processing plant. As tilapia makes up the majority of El Salvador’s aquaculture products, this partnership should prove lucrative for all involved.

Partnerships Benefit All

Each of these partnerships demonstrates the immense impact that can be made through economic collaboration. Simply providing local smallholders with reliable market networks not only meets the demands of local businesses but also dramatically improves the opportunities for Salvadorans to pull themselves out of poverty. And the benefits are not one-sided. Supermarket chains like Super Selectos also profit from local sourcing. Even internationally-acclaimed companies like Spring Genetics, with its ties to the United States and Latin America, can benefit from expanding El Salvador’s markets.

– Andria Pressel
Photo: Flickr

Food Security and Innovation ProgramAs the world encounters one issue after another, food insecurity increases in countries with inadequate resources or less-than sufficient agriculture systems. With the pandemic at the helm and climate change an ongoing phenomenon, to survive these stressful times, innovative strategies are necessary. In this advanced society, new ways are necessary to process, distribute and reshape food production. Connections between food security and innovation seem far-fetched, but the United Arab Emirates/UAE’s food security and innovation program has found state-of-the-art techniques that relieve their people of this struggle.

Key Constraints Facing Food Security

The UAE aims to rank in the top 10 in the Global Food Security Index by 2021, and number one by 2051. In this arid region, however, traditional farming is next to impossible from limited water for irrigation and an unequal ratio between people and the UAE’s production. Due to these hardships, the country is reliant on its imports. For a food-dependent country, when disaster hits, food systems are unstable.

While there are several reasons for poor food production in the UAE, the scarcity of water contributes heavily. Most of the water in the country is recycle and reused, but this process can only occur for a given amount of time. Given that traditional agriculture utilizes a significant amount of water, UAE’s food security and innovation program is the answer. . To combat the issue of their unstable food system, the UAE has set up the FoodTech Challenge. This global competition seeks out innovative solutions for the country to address food production and distribution.

Vertical Farming: An Innovative Farming Technique

In response to the FoodTech Challenge, the company Smart Acres has provided a technique that utilizes vertical farming to support the UAE’s food security and innovation program. Vertical farming consists of vertically stacked plants, providing more produce per square area, resembling green walls as displayed in shopping centers. Smart Acres used South Korean vertical farming technology to decrease water usage and monitor temperature and nutrients. Regarding the UAE’s water issue, vertical farms save over 90% of the water in comparison to conventional farming methods. The constant flow of water across the plants provides the necessary nutrients for all the plants to grow. This high-tech design allows the company to produce clean crops without any chemicals and negligible interference.

Although the farm has not been implemented yet, this form of food production is expected to produce 12 cycles of crops annually; the farm will expand from Abu Dhabi to the rest of the country gradually. By using vertical farming, this technique expects to produce approximately 8,000 kilograms of lettuce and other leafy greens per cycle. In addition to the increased number of crops, the variety is also expected to increase and include items, such as strawberries, arugula, potatoes, etc.

Aquaculture Farming: Decreasing the Dependence of Imports

On average, the UAE consumes 220,000 tons of fish annually. However, imported food is 90% of the UAE’s diet, suggesting that advancements in the country’s aquaculture would be beneficial. To aid the seafood industry in the UAE, the Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Center has taken the responsibility to use advanced technology to harvest marine organisms. The center utilizes photo-bioreactors to generate food for juvenile fish.

In addition to manufacturing primary live food for marine organisms, UAE’s food security and innovation program also include water recycling technologies, where water is cycled through fish tanks to reduce water consumption. To make aquaculture a more efficient and sustainable system in the country, the center is establishing a disease diagnostic laboratory, which will reduce the number of disease-related deaths associated with marine life.

While many countries face tumultuous times currently, UAE’s food security and innovation program seems to be a ticket out of poverty. Through the FoodTech Challenge, the country has found multiple viable options to strengthen its food system. With water scarcity, a large problem regarding food production, both vertical and aquaculture farming, has found a way to recycle the limited water and attend to other problems the UAE faces, such as dependence on imports from other countries. The challenge is open to the entire country, increasing the country’s opportunity in establishing a sustainable system. Through these systems, the UAE’s food security and innovation program is well on its way to stabilizing its food security and achieving its goal as a titleholder in the Global Food Security Index.

Aditi Prasad
Photo: Flickr

Farming in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, a desert country that saw its fortunes skyrocket due to the discovery of oil, uses its billions of dollars of oil profits to power many parts of its economy and its citizen’s lives. One of these facets is its food supply — the Kingdom imports more than 80% of its necessary food supply with its oil money. Only about 1.5% of the land area of Saudi Arabia is arable, and what agriculture the country does have ends up taking over 80% of the Kingdom’s precious water supply. While the country is currently food-secure, farming in Saudi Arabia has been a crucial area of interest for those who wish to expand Saudi sustainability and shore up potential risks in global food supply network crashes.

Farming Policy

Saudi Arabia originally attempted agricultural self-sufficiency with aggressive government subsidies for farmers in the 1980s due to volatile food imports. Poor techniques and mismanagement of water resources forced the reimagining of these efforts in 2007. Now, the Kingdom subsidizes the use of manufactured feed for livestock farmers and encourages vegetable growth using greenhouses and drip irrigation methods. These techniques conserve water while ensuring a more sustainable food supply.

The Saudi government has made concerted efforts to improve its agricultural sector as part of its Vision 2030 program. A top priority for the Kingdom is increasing efficiency in its use of limited natural resources while developing rural areas. Farming is an important source of employment in the Kingdom, so supporting agribusiness in Saudi Arabia not only improves food security but the overall lives of many. Farmers are often some of the poorest individuals in the world, so providing aid and focusing on agricultural efficiency simultaneously fights Saudi hunger and poverty.

New Developments

The Kingdom is still a major importer of cereals, meat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables, but there has been a growing emphasis on farming in Saudi Arabia as demand for food continues to rise. Following the failed attempts in the 1980s, Saudis have used technology to help make their agricultural industry as efficient as possible. New strategies include the use of satellites to obtain pictures of farmland. The intention of the resulting thermal images is to better understand the relationship between crop growth and overall water use. This helps farmers compare water requirements for different crops and estimate which crop has the highest yield given a certain amount of water.

Another newer form of technology recently came into play in the United Arab Emirates, which shares a border and climate with Saudi Arabia. There, a Norwegian scientist introduced her patented Liquid Nanoclay (LNC) to Emirati desert farms. LNC is a treatment that gives sand a clay coating by mixing nanoparticles of clay with water and binding them with sand particles. Since sand particles are loose, they cannot trap water efficiently, but this treatment allows them to do so. Without using any chemicals, LNC saved water consumption by over 50% in its trial run in the Emirati farms. While it is still quite expensive, international technology like this provides hope for farming in Saudi Arabia, as well as other regions that are water-scarce and relatively reliant on food imports.

Current Trends

High seafood consumption levels have driven the Kingdom to transform and expand its aquaculture industry, or the farming of aquatic species in some body of water like a tank, cage or pond. Aquaculture also saw its start in the 1980s, but today it is the fastest-growing animal food cultivation industry in Saudi Arabia. Government support is a large driver of this — to enhance food security, the government allocated $35 billion toward Vision 2030 projects that include aquaculture funding. Examples of these projects include establishing a seafood processing plant for high-end fish and marine fin-fish cages in the Red Sea in addition to several other initiatives focused on land farming.

Better-informed practices and technological advancement of farming in Saudi Arabia have helped in creating a more sustainable domestic food supply in the Kingdom. Learning from its mistakes in the 1980s, the Saudi government has targeted its subsidies and projects toward more efficient crops and projects, like fish farming. Additionally, it has pivoted away from crops and growth methods having to do with wastewater. Technology like satellite use aides in current Saudi production while new, pioneering technology like Liquid Nanoclay provides hope for the future of Saudi food security and sustainability. Even though food imports still make up the majority of its supply, the Saudi government has recognized this issue and is making a concerted effort into reforming its agriculture industry. These efforts have the potential to help Saudi Arabia avoid a major food and poverty crisis in the future.

Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

IMTA Shrimp Farms in Bangladesh
Shrimp farming plays an essential role in Bangladeshi livelihoods, food security and international trade. Prior to the 1970s, Bangladeshi shrimpers typically farmed in inland ponds formed by trapped tidal waters. These ponds only require minimal or no feed, fertilizer, or other inputs. Instead, they rely on the natural ecosystem for shrimp production, but they produce limited output. The expansion of shrimp farming for maximum output has had several environmental and economic consequences, but there exist options for a sustainable future.

Expansion of Shrimp Farming

In the 1970s, international market demand for shrimp grew during the “Blue Revolution,” wherein cheap and vacuum-sealed fish appeared in the freezer aisles of grocery stores around the world. The potential for high profits led to the rapid expansion of commercial shrimp farming in Bangladesh. Today, shrimp production is a major contributor to Bangladeshi fisheries and aquaculture, which both comprise about 3.65% of the nation’s GDP.  Approximately 14.7 million people depend on Bangladeshi fisheries and aquaculture for full- or part-time employment. They also provide about 60% of the animal protein in the average Bangladeshi’s diet.

Shrimp farming has the potential to combat poverty, malnutrition, hunger and job insecurity among the growing population in Bangladesh, but poor shrimp farm management comes with consequences.  In its current state, the long-term effects of shrimp farming may pose more problems in Bangladesh than it can resolve.

Consequences

The rapid expansion of shrimp farming has had adverse environmental, economic and social effects in Bangladesh. Poor placement of farming systems can lead to saltwater intrusion in groundwater, deforestation and loss of mangrove forests, all of which result in changes in local water systems and the deterioration of soil and water quality. This in turn threatens biodiversity, crop production, supplies of potable water and critical cooking fuel. The environmental effects of high-intensity shrimp farming in Bangladesh threaten human health and survival tools, particularly among those living in rural coastal areas who have limited access to alternative livelihoods. This conflict creates social imbalance and contributes to criminal activity in the Bangladeshi coastal regions.

In the long term, Bangladeshi shrimp farming poses economic costs including unemployment and loss of natural resources. These may outweigh the economic benefits of Bangladeshi shrimp production.

Solution for a Sustainable Future

To combat the environmental, social and economic consequences of high-intensity shrimp farming, some Bangladeshi shrimp farmers are turning to integrated multitrophic aquaculture (IMTA) systems. IMTA relies on natural processes to cultivate aquatic organisms at multiple trophic levels within the same farming system. Organisms within the system, including finfish, shellfish and seaweeds, interact to recycle and reuse nutrients. IMTA requires minimal external inputs and simulates natural ecosystem processes, much like shrimp farming systems prior to the 1970s Blue Revolution.

If properly executed, IMTA shrimp farms in Bangladesh can produce multiple marketable seafood products, increase organism survival rate, increase biomass yield and reduce harmful nutrient concentrations in water. IMTA systems promote biodiversity by valuing production at multiple trophic levels. They relocate Bangladeshi shrimp farms from threatened mangrove forests to open-water environments like coastal rivers and estuaries. This discourages intensive, environmentally degrading shrimp farming practices, and the regrowth of mangrove forests contributes to carbon capture. All of these processes increase ecosystem resiliency, which bolsters the long-term sustainability of IMTA shrimp farms in Bangladesh.

In 1998, Bangladesh adopted a National Fisheries Policy. The policy recognizes the detrimental effects that shrimp farming has on the nation, and it seeks to optimize fishery resource use in order to encourage economic growth, feed the population, alleviate poverty and protect human and environmental health.  Widespread adoption of IMTA shrimp farms could be another step in the right direction for sustainable aquaculture in Bangladesh.

Avery Saklad
Photo: FLickr

Aquaponics in South Africa

Aquaponics is an emerging, innovative and resilient method to raise both fish and vegetables concurrently without soil and with little water. Aquaponics combines conventional aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). The system imitates a natural wetland. The fish waste acts as a natural nutrient source for the plants and the plants filter the water. The water continues to cycle between both as the crops grow.

Aquaponics in South Africa

South Africa is currently experiencing drought conditions. Though aquaponics is new in South Africa, it has the potential of addressing food insecurity on a larger scale. It may serve as an alternative to traditional methods that are less environmentally sustainable. Growing crops traditionally requires fertile soil and large, consistent amounts of water. Traditional fishing leads to the depletion of fish in the ocean. With aquaponics, once the initial water supply enters the system, there is no need for additional water. The plants do not require soil. Climate conditions have little effect on the aquaponics system, though the fish may need a sustained warm temperature.

The installation of aquaponics can be on a large scale for market sale, or a small scale to feed a village. Even a small system can provide a surplus to sell for income beneficial to families living in poverty. Small-scale systems can be set up in a limited space, such as a backyard or a village common area. By 2018, 190 freshwater farms and 30 saltwater farms were in production in South Africa. Many farmers start small because of the start-up costs and may move to a larger system after developing their practice.

What Are the Benefits of Aquaponics?

Tilapia is the most common fish raised via aquaponics in South Africa. Leafy greens (lettuces) are the most common vegetables. Seventy-five percent of the aquaponics systems in South Africa serve the purpose of hobby farming or producing food for subsistence or human consumption, as opposed to producing for market sale.

Goals for those interested in expanding sustainability and food security with aquaponics in South Africa include raising awareness of the benefits and advancing the technology of small systems to improve production. Farmers practicing aquaponics need to develop an understanding of managing water quality, including pH, nitrogen and oxygen levels. Systems can be fully automated or semi-automated requiring more maintenance effort. Moreover, farmers may purchase fish food or use natural manure sources at no cost.

Aquaponics can grow other vegetables including tomatoes, herbs, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, peas and beans. Farmers can harvest plants after one to three months while the fish take 9-10 months to mature. Proponents state that the vegetables flourish and grow more quickly than a traditional garden.

Aquaponics in South Africa Could Help Solve Malnutrition

Aquaponics offers an essential option for those who are at risk of malnutrition, who experience poverty and those who do not have access to sufficient water for traditional farming or gardening practices. An aquaponics system can be set up in rural or urban areas. A basic setup may begin with two repurposed bathtub basins, a water pump and piping or gravel to hold the plants and a properly plumbed system for drainage and recycling of water.

The highly nutritious and organically raised fish and leafy green vegetables provide protein, vitamins and fiber. These high-value crops create a much better alternative to high-starch, low-nutrition foods which may be more readily available when food is scarce. As an added benefit, with a closed water system, no run-off pollutes the environment.

A Need for Funding

In order to continue to boost sustainability and food security goals via aquaponics in South Africa on a larger scale, farmers will need funding to develop the technologies. Scientists are currently studying which systems (tunnels and greenhouses) provide preferable temperatures for different types of fish considering the climate in South Africa.

Though South Africa’s agricultural department plays a role in aquaponics education, proponents ask that the government of South Africa include aquaponics in their agricultural policies so that they may assist with funding. In addition, there is a need for aquaponics education in secondary and tertiary schools to increase knowledge and understanding.

Farmers and entrepreneurs will continue to develop sustainability and food security with aquaponics in South Africa. Aquaponics may provide the solution to climatic variables such as drought. The potential of aquaponics draws fishermen who recognize the decline in fish as a wild resource. In addition, aquaponics eliminates reliance on soil, which becomes depleted of nutrients from overuse. Aquaponics provides highly nutritious food sources that will combat malnourishment in impoverished areas.

Susan Niz
Photo: Flickr

Seaweed Farming Aids Food Security in South America
Seaweed is a nutrient-rich food source that has always been part of many South American indigenous groups’ diets, especially in the Chilean area.

The aquatic plant is currently seeing a revival in the diets of the area. The Inter Press Service (IPS) reports that the wild supply is being harvested from the ocean at a high rate. As a solution, seaweed farming is becoming a new industry. There are over 700 known varieties of seaweed in Chile but only 20 are currently used commercially.

A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. states that 25 million tons of algae and seaweed are harvested around the world each year. These seaweeds are used as food, cosmetics and fertilizers. Seaweeds are also used as thickeners and animal food ingredients.

Aquaculture could go a long way in helping to improve hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. Although the region managed to reduce its proportion of undernourished by 60% between 1990 and 2014, FAO reports that hunger still affects 37 million people or 6.1% of the population.

Aquaculture, which includes fish and seaweed farming, provides direct employment to more than 200,000 people and indirect employment to another 500,000 in the area of Latin America and the Caribbean. Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico account for more than 80 percent of the regional aquaculture production, but most of the countries in the area practice some form of aquaculture farming.

FAO reports that marine aquaculture products contribute to food security and the alleviation of poverty. Most workers are employed in small- or medium-sized fisheries and family businesses.

Chile’s seaweed industry alone employs 30,000. Seaweed provides food and food security to rural areas where the poverty rate stands at 47% poverty according to a TakePart article. The most grown, harvested and cooked species of seaweed in the country is cochayuyo. It is high in protein and is often found being used in place of meat in traditional dishes.

TakePart reports that not only is seaweed helping to make the poverty-stricken less hungry; the plant is making its way into the kitchens of fancy restaurants. In particular, vegans are regular consumers of kelp. Chile is a leader of environmentally friendly cultivation of seaweed in the local area; they offer incentives to farmers to replant. This will hopefully further help the poor out of poverty.

Many women are active in seaweed farming and as TakePart points out: “Across the globe, when women gain economic independence, childhood malnutrition goes down, and education goes up.”

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

aquaculture
For over 40,000 years, humans have developed techniques to breed, rear and harvest animals in water environments. Today, the process is called aquaculture, but only until recently have researchers been able to find the link between aquaculture and poverty reduction.

In a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal World Development, researchers looked at Bangladeshi fisheries in the period between 2000 and 2010 and found that the growth of aquaculture led to greater consumption among the extremely and moderately poor in Bangladesh.

The “expansion of commercial aquaculture has tended to stabilize or reduce the price of fish, which has become relatively more affordable as incomes have risen,” the study found.

In those ten years, Bangladesh saw a substantial reduction in poverty. Those living below the upper poverty line shrunk from 48.9 percent to 31.9 percent, and those living in extreme poverty decreased from 34.3 percent to 17.6 percent, according to the study. Rising wage rates during this time led to poverty reduction and the increased aquaculture production led to cheaper fish prices.

For Bangladesh, combating food insecurity and malnutrition is remarkably important. The country ranks poorly for food and nutrition security and malnutrition is estimated to cost the economy $1 billion annually. Changes in the supply and consumption of fish, the study argues, have “major public health implications.”

More and more households were able to afford the consumption of fish and the added nutritional value helped make households more food secure. Fish are an excellent source of protein, fatty acids and vital micronutrients that maintain and support health.

The success of Bangladeshi fisheries in alleviating poverty over the past decade brings greater attention to the role of aquaculture in helping the poor meet their nutritional needs. Farming fish efficiently means the cost of fish is cheaper and stable fish prices mean the poor are better able to meet their nutritional needs.

Advancing aquaculture techniques in low-income countries is important insofar as it can help the poor meet basic needs. Bangladesh has had tremendous success in recent years reducing the share of its citizens that live in poverty, but governments can learn from the country’s success by adopting policies that favor the expansion of capture fisheries to most effectively meet the needs of the poor.

– Joseph McAdams

Sources: Science Direct, Daily Link, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, World Fish Center
Photo: Banglabox

hunger_fighting_strategies
Hunger is a persistent problem in communities worldwide. While poor nations face a disproportionate amount of hunger when compared to their wealthier cousins, rich nations are not themselves immune. As the world population continues to rise, hunger fighting strategies become a more urgent need in every country.

Fortunately, scientists, engineers and thinkers are responding with new solutions. Each of these hunger fighting strategies is far-reaching in its scope, but every one of them desires to be achievable, sustainable and profitable. Below are just three of the hunger fighting strategies being suggested as this century’s answer to hunger.

1. Farming Fish

In 2014, approximately half of the fish we consume is caught in the wild, whereas the other half is farmed in a practice called “aquaculture.” In the world’s rivers and oceans, over-fishing is a looming reality, and by 2030, the World Bank predicts that at least 62 percent of the fish we eat will come from aquaculture farms.

Aquaculture is a developing industry in parts of the globe, but with the right resources, fish farming could be an effective tool in fighting hunger in even the poorest places. Fish provide a high-quality source of protein, and when these fish are farmed rather than caught in the wild, that source is also replenishing.

The main goals of aquaculture are to be sustainable, environmentally-friendly and technologically advanced. On the most high-tech fish farms, video surveillance provides a solution to wastage, allowing farmers to better monitor over-feeding and dispense less feed per fish.

Sainsbury’s, a major chain of supermarkets in the U.K., has declared that all of the fish it sells will be produced via aquaculture by 2020. Other companies and countries are taking note.

2. Improving Rice

On May 28, in celebration of World Hunger Day, the web-based journal “GigaScience” announced that it plans to publish the first of the articles produced by the 3000 Rice Genomes Project.

The project, a collaborative mission by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), aims to go public with the gene sequences of 3000 rice strains. Researchers and farmers alike can delight at this information which will do wonders in fighting hunger.

Sixteen poverty-stricken African and Asian countries have been named the intended beneficiaries of this project, though researchers worldwide will also be able to access the article. The 3000 gene sequences are compiled into 13.4 terabytes of information, all of which can be used in selective breeding programs.

Up until this time, breeders have had to rely on the outward characteristics of rice in order to make their selections. As a result, useless or counter-productive recessive traits — not outwardly visible but apparent in later generations — have slipped through the cracks. With the help of the 3000 Rice Genomes Project, scientists can select for very specific traits, including ones linked to drought resistance, higher yield and more. These improvements will mean more money for farmers and more food for families.

3. Exploring GMOs

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, have developed a largely unfounded negative association. Produced by genetic engineering, GMOs are super-crops with high yields and great nutritional values. Most require fewer pesticides than their unmodified versions, and some may even require less water.

The stigma against GMOs developed largely in Europe, where Monsanto, an American company, tried to sell their modified product on European markets. Politicians responded with a terrific resistance to the GMOs, decrying them as “unsafe.” These claims were largely unsubstantiated.

As a result of decades-long campaigns against GMOs, Europeans have spread their fear to other parts of the world, including those most in need of the super-crops. Communities in Asia and Africa are already fighting hunger with the aid of GMOs, but too much pressure from anti-GMO campaigners may threaten their availability.

In order to end world hunger, GMOs must grow in popularity, not decline. Scientists are being called upon to prove the safety of genetically modified organisms, though the stigma against them may be hard to break.

With each of these three hunger fighting strategies, farmers, scientists and consumers can work to lessen world food shortages. With the help of all three, they could even put an end to hunger.

– Patricia Mackey

Sources: Boston Globe, CNBC, Science Codex
Photo: PSMAG