Feed the World’s PoorPeople around the world are suffering from hunger—more than 800 million of them as of 2021, in fact. Some specific foods that can feed the world’s poor include amaranth, pigeon peas, taro and fonio. Apart from them being nutritious, their weather-resilient nature makes these crops ideal. While tackling the hunger crisis does involve immediate food relief, it also requires a longer-term investment in teaching people to plant well, using sustainable agricultural practices and crops suited to harsh environments. Here are four plants that communities can plant across the world to address hunger.


Although amaranth produces grain, every part of it is edible. Furthermore, its nine amino acids and high protein and fiber content make it a very nutritious meal. It is drought-resistant and has been planted yearly on nearly every continent, making it an excellent crop. Amaranth grain is easier to digest after soaking for a few days. It can be turned into flour or added to a variety of dishes. Amaranth tastes “sweet and nutty,” with a “crunchy [texture] when cooked.” Puente a la Salud Comunitaria is a nonprofit working in Oaxaca, Mexico, to reduce malnutrition and poor health. It is incorporating amaranth into its diet outreach and microenterprise workshops because of its high nutrition. Purdue also recognized the importance of amaranth as one of the foods that can feed the world’s poor when it created an amaranth popper for use in Africa.

Pigeon Peas

This “pea” is not a snap pea or a cowpea. While the grain is edible, the other parts of the plant have been used as roofing, medicine and charcoal. Its usefulness as far more than a food increases its favorability. Pigeon peas are drought and heat-resistant. They can be harvested ripe or dry and must be replanted every year in areas that receive frost. However, in areas without frost, the pea plant can last for up to five years. Under the right conditions, this is an extremely high-yield plant. One plant reportedly produced 2.5 lbs. of seeds, making it an excellent addition to the list of foods that can feed the world’s poor. It is grown widely in India and Africa and has been cultivated at high elevations.

This pea is known for its sweet flavor and must be cooked before it is eaten. In 2022, Madagascan farmers took advantage of pigeon peas’ drought-resistant nature and used the peas to feed their families. The improved soil quality post-pea can be used to plant other crops. In Malawi, pigeon peas have a reputation for being the food that gets eaten when there isn’t anything else to eat. This demonstrates their hardiness, but people are not receptive to it as a staple because they are unaware of its many uses. To solve that problem, a pigeon pea cookbook was published in 2022 to teach people how to use it.


The underground part of this plant is the most commonly eaten portion, but contrary to popular belief, it is a corm or underground stem, not a root. Although its leaves and stalks are also edible,  they are eaten less frequently. High in fiber and nutrients, this adaptable plant is grown around the world, making it one of the ideal foods that can feed the world’s poor. There are several varieties of taro, and as a result, it can be grown in different types of soil. It must be cooked before it is eaten due to its toxicity when raw, and “has a mildly sweet taste and a texture similar to potato” with a note of nuttiness. One of taro’s limits is its inability to store well for long periods of time. However, it can be prepared in various ways to feed the world’s poor.

The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance recognizes that taro takes a limited amount of land and work to grow. This makes it an attractive option for farmers and countries in poverty. In 2018, the crop was “9th in the world for food crop production.”


This hardy and nutritious grain is another food that can feed the world’s poor. It contains important amino acids along with plenty of fiber and nutrients. Fonio is extremely drought-resistant and can also flourish in less-than-ideal soil conditions. These two characteristics make this grain a formidable opponent of world hunger. It is a traditional African crop and has been grown there longer than any other cereal. It is also easily stored, enhancing its capacity to address hunger. This grain has a “rich, nutty flavor” and expands in size four times when cooked in water.

Looking Ahead

According to UNICEF, “more than one in five children under age 5 worldwide had stunted growth” as a result of malnutrition in 2022. With hardy, nutritious and versatile crops like taro, fonio, pigeon peas and amaranth available, solving world hunger and changing the lives of millions of people could be within reach.

– Abigail Leland
Photo: Unsplash

Agriculture in MalawiIn high-rise corporate buildings and individual cubicles, a barrier unfolds in the lives of many people who work in air-conditioned offices toward the difficulties of a career in agriculture. Small changes in the weather or environmental conditions impact entire communities. The emergence of the collaboration between new, innovative technological solutions and the farms of Malawi shed light on the future of farming.

Agriculture in Malawi

Malawi is a landlocked country in the southeast Africa. About 80 percent of Malawi holds connections to the agricultural sector as a means of their livelihood, representing the importance of efficient and innovative farming policies. Political leaders implemented the “National Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan” to complement the pre-existing “Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program”. Together, the policies coordinate government spending and growth in the agricultural sector. Malawi also works with other organizations and governments for additional agricultural support. For example, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invests in dairy and legume cultivation, provides training to assist in financial and economic improvements and works with local communities to develop lasting solutions.

Concern Worldwide in Malawi

Another organization that provides agricultural assistance is Concern Worldwide. Created in 1968 by a couple named John and Kay O’Loughlin-Kennedy, this group is based in Ireland. It initially started as a response to the independence movement in Biafra from Nigeria that resulted in widespread famine. The organization eventually expanded to countries in need around the world, providing aid and sending volunteers.

In 2021, Concern Worldwide provided emergency assistance to 17.8 million people and health services to 11.4 million people. In 24 countries, Concern Worldwide emphasizes the livelihoods and education of impoverished communities and fights for adequate health and gender equality.

Harnessing the Power of the Sun

One of Concern Worldwide’s latest initiatives is the implementation of a program to improve agriculture in Malawi. Because a large portion of the country relies on the success of agriculture to survive, it is vital that the productivity and efficiency of new technological innovation transfer to the communities to establish a sustainable livelihood. Concern helps install solar-powered irrigation systems with funding partnerships with organizations such as the European Union and Irish Aid.

The new irrigation system allows farmers to avoid problems associated with droughts and other environmental inconsistencies and plant multiple times per year. The collaboration in these local communities ensures that the program will be long-lasting and sustainable. Groups in specific areas assemble into co-operatives, jointly operate the system and make decisions about entering the agricultural market to ensure a profit. The profits provide repayment for the irrigation system, allowing the organization to move on to the next co-operative group. Thus, the system that Concern Worldwide supports encourages productive farming techniques and resourceful business strategies to ensure long-term success for agriculture in Malawi.

Success Builds From Previous Projects

The development of solar-powered irrigation systems builds on prior projects in the region from similar humanitarian groups. Concern Worldwide previously worked with the Promoting Sustainable Partnerships for Empowered Resilience (PROSPER) program to provide treadle pumps in partnership with UK Aid.

It functioned as a means to increase food accessibility and availability. After budget cuts, the organizations that were supporting the project were unable to continue. Thus, there is hope that the new solar-powered system yields more success among renewed efforts in the field of agriculture in Malawi. The solar-powered irrigation system also builds on a prior UNICEF project for a solar-powered water pump in Malawi. UNICEF installed this pump and also trained citizens to operate and fix the pump when needed while creating a way to fund the pump through a community garden. The program assisted in a wide variety of poverty-reducing actions in the areas of sanitation, agriculture, trust in local institutions and time for children to attend school.

A Look Ahead

As more projects such as the prior project that UNICEF implemented as well as the more recent project by Concern Worldwide make a difference in Malawi’s local agricultural communities, individuals remain closer to maintaining healthier and stable lifestyles.

Kaylee Messick
Photo: Flickr


Sustainable agriculture attempts to meet society’s current food and textile needs without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Agriculture is a major component in Algeria’s rural development and represents 14 percent of the labor force.

Algeria has approximately 8.4 million hectares (ha) of arable land, which is 3.5 percent of the country’s entire surface area. However, only 12 percent of Algeria’s arable land is irrigated because most of the sustainable agriculture in Algeria is rain-fed, and consequently suffers from frequent droughts. Just over half of the country’s total arable land is dedicated to field crops such as cereals and pulses, with six percent of land to arboriculture and three percent to industrial crops.

Algeria’s agricultural productivity has improved in recent years due to the Agriculture Development Plan implemented in 2000 by the Ministry of Agriculture. The plan focuses on boosting agriculture development and production.

In 2008, the agriculture development strategy was re-oriented to portray new policy priorities: enhanced agricultural production, revitalization of natural resources, appropriate consumption of water resources and food safety initiatives. Algeria’s government intends to orient agriculture toward models in the grain sector and establish modern complexes to facilitate the use of public agricultural land. This would increase Algeria’s arable land to nine million ha by 2020.

Despite the Agricultural Development Plan, Algeria remains one of the world’s largest importers of wheat, amounting to $2.39 billion. Algeria’s exports to the United States total less than $1 million.

Several factors impede Algeria’s development:

  • Land ownership and marketing channel constraints
  • Investment deficiency
  • Insufficient input access
  • Lack of water availability
  • Low levels of agriculture training and education
  • Slow grant agreement process

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Algeria have formed a cooperation with three main objectives. These goals include working for sustainable improvements in economic, social and technical performance for agriculture production and food security, bettering natural resource management and building capacity and institutional development to secure effective policies for food security and resource management

To ensure sustainable agriculture in Algeria, priority should be given to improving the regulatory framework of resources and incentive system, further cooperation and policy development, implementing an effective finance system and encouraging a transparent and secure land market. Sustainable agriculture in Algeria is possible if development approaches are adaptable, long-term and rational.

– Carolyn Gibson

Photo: Flickr

Farm Africa
Farm Africa is the top agency under the Food Trade project, a U.K. government-funded food crop trade enhancement program that assists farmers in Uganda and Tanzania to increase their household incomes and boost their living standards.

The undertaking is supported by a £3 million ($4.2 million) grant from the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID). The Guardian reports that the project will benefit 70,000 Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers, in part by expanding their export markets.

According to Farm Africa, 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated land suitable for crop production is in Africa. There is an enormous possibility for development in the continent that would allow for self-sustaining food production.

In the last year, Farm Africa has impacted 1.4 million people in eastern Africa. The organization has incorporated contemporary systems and methods to help farmers “grow more, sell more and sell for more.”

The Farm Africa project will assist Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers manage and supply exceptional quality grain and market it for maximum profit.

The project will help 12,000 farmers in the Teso sub-region, including 2,000 members of the Katine Joint Farmers’ Co-operative Society (Kajofaco). This will allow more isolated farmers to connect with high paying buyers, particularly in Kenya.

The Kenyan market has a large population and booming economy which is key for the success of Ugandan and Tanzanian farmers. Additionally, Kenya, for the most part, is a food importer due to its mediocre crop growing capabilities.

Farm Africa, through the Food Trade project, will train farmers in Katine which is one of the poorest areas is in Uganda. The agency will provide guidance for improving methods of harvesting, drying, sorting and grading grain in three staple crops: maize, rice and beans.

Steve Ball, Farm Africa’s county director in Tanzania said to The Guardian: “By incentivizing farmers to grow bigger surpluses and making regional trade easy and affordable, this project will help lift tens of thousands of grain farmers in Tanzania and Uganda out of poverty as well as taking eastern Africa a step closer to agricultural self-sufficiency.”

Heidi Grossman

Photo: Flickr

Sweet-Potato‘Alafie Wuljo’ – otherwise known as healthy potato – has recently become one of Ghana’s most famous crops. This sweet potato variety was introduced in a USAID project in order to counter vitamin A deficiency, a condition that weakens the immune system and can lead to blindness. The project’s main goal is to improve the livelihood and nutritional status of Ghana’s most vulnerable populations.

Sweet potatoes are primarily beneficial to children, whose vitamin A requirements can be met simply by eating the healthy potato. Notably, the 2008 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey states that “28 percent of Ghanaian children under the age 5 are stunted, 7.5 percent are wasted, and 13.9 percent are underweight.” Therefore, the emerging sweet potato is necessary to improve the health of starving and malnourished children.

The International Potato Center (CIP) plans to reach 15 million households in the next 10 years by responding to the demand for the orange-fleshed sweet potato. The CIP director states, “We can soon claim to have reached a milestone in our history by reaching one million households in Africa with sweet potato – preventing blindness and stunting in children along the way.”

The little orange potato has assisted Ghana’s vulnerable communities while also bringing camaraderie to villages. At one of the communities’ harvest celebrations, young children were taught how to cook the potatoes and now everyone wants to grow these crops.

The expansion of crops in Ghana, however, is not the only focus of USAID’s project to diminish malnutrition in Ghana. Aside from agricultural initiatives, efforts to improve the lives of villagers include areas such as clean water, sanitation and hygiene. All of these factors are interrelated and can work together to improve standards of living.

Through the use of new crops in Ghana, USAID aims to decrease chronic malnutrition, measured by stunting, by 20 percent through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative and Global Health Initiative, the Office of Food for Peace development programs, resilience efforts and other nutrition investments.

Megan Hadley

Sources: USAID 1, USAID 2, JSI, The World’s Healthiest Foods, My Joy Online
Photo: Google Images

Ghana Vitamin A Deficiency
As a leader in fighting extreme global poverty, government agency USAID is currently revolutionizing health and nutrition for northern Ghanaians. In order to counter the vitamin A deficiency from which many people in Ghana suffer, USAID introduced the sweet potato to the country. Since its introduction, the sweet potato has become one of the region’s most popular vegetables, USAID reports.

The implementation of the sweet potato is part of USAID’s 2014-2025 Multi-Sectoral Nutrition Strategy. The project is aligned with the 2025 World Health Assembly Nutrition Targets and focuses on decreasing chronic malnutrition and improving other nutrition investments. According to USAID, over one-third of children under the age of five, in five northern districts, suffer from stunted growth resulting from poor nutrition, so the strategy is crucial for bettering the future generations.

USAID team members visited Ghana last year and taught 439 women in 17 districts how to grow the sweet potato. The crop instantly became admired, with villagers calling it “Alafie Wuljo,” or “healthy potato” in the Dagbani language. Ghanaians have also been taught different ways to cook the potato, such as schoolchildren enjoying sweet potato fries.

“Now everyone wants to grow orange-fleshed sweet potatoes,” said the head of the project, Phillipe LeMay, in a USAID article.

The Nutrition Strategy goes beyond just the sweet potato. The project also focuses on educating farmers about other nutritious crops, linking farmers to markets, helping community members create savings and loans, promoting better hygiene and improving water and sanitation infrastructure.

USAID and the government of Ghana aim to change the lives of roughly 300,000 people with this project. Northern Ghana is an area of particular focus because it is relatively remote with a harsh climate and limited resources. This work will also be assisting with the goals of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. Feed the Future aims to decrease child stunting by 20 percent and double incomes of vulnerable households. With USAID tactics, this is becoming a reality.

The project has received positive responses thus far. The Ghanaian government has taken the initiative to promote a solution to vitamin A deficiency and nutrition in general, according to USAID, which has beneficial long-term effects. The organized training provided by USAID has also educated many people on how to practice proper sanitation and good nutrition.

“I now understand the links between poor sanitation, diarrheal diseases and nutrition,” said West Gonja District member Ama Nuzaara, in a USAID article. “I also make sure that my children wash their hands with soap and water after they use the toilet. I do this for my family’s health and well-being.”

Kerri Whelan

Sources: USAID 1, JSI, USAID 2, Feed the Future
Photo: Feed the Future


An international team of researchers recently received a $3.5 million grant from NASA to map the world’s crops. Using satellite data, NASA is hoping to create an information system that tracks what crops are being grown around the world and whether or not they are “irrigated or rain-fed.”

The information collected from the mapping project is expected to help forecast harvests, observe the global effects of climate change on crops, and determine where food aid is needed most.

The project is being developed in anticipation of increased global food demand over the next century. The world population is expected to increase by 2 billion between now and 2050, according to the United Nations. The mapping project will help establish where crop growth is most productive, which will be critical information as water demand increases along with population growth.

By 2050, the United Nations projects that global food demand will increase by 70%. Adding to the challenge of growing food demand is an increase in food prices. The NASA mapping project will hopefully mitigate both issues by presenting scientists with the data necessary to determine which areas are most conducive to crop growth throughout the world. More successful crop yields will help cushion from spikes in food prices, allowing more people throughout the world to purchase nutritious foods.

– Jordan Kline

Source: United Nations, Arizona Daily Sun
Photo: United Nations

The United States, Australia, and India have come together to develop climate-resilient varieties of rice and wheat that make up two of the “big three” crops that are imperative to feeding people worldwide. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting a new public-private research partnership between the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) and India’s Vibha Agrotech.

With ACPFG’s unique gene technologies that are already in use and Vibha’s field evaluation and rice transformation capabilities, farmers will acquire new rice and wheat varieties that will allow more stable crop production when facing sudden drought and evolving salt-water intrusion. The most successful varieties evaluated will eventually be transferred into the varieties that the farmers already grow.

While the research and crop growth will take place in Australia and India in the preliminary stages, the technologies will eventually be available to developing countries globally. The climate-resilient crops will be most useful in countries where climate change and subsequent stresses impact cereal yields and will help to ensure that farmers will have a good harvest despite these unpredictable climate changes.

The partnership is part of Feed the Future, the US Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. According to Dr. Julie Howard, USAID’s Chief Scientist in the Bureau for Food Security and Senior Advisor to the Administrator on Agricultural Research, Extension and Education, in order to ensure food security, global food production must increase by 60% by 2050. Unfortunately, climate change is already affecting yields globally. “That means we must use all the tools available to us to grow more food on less land and with less water,” she said.

– Kira Maixner

Source: Business Standard
Photo: Rising Pyramid

Women in Kenya are going back to a traditional practice to help hold communities together. The practice is that of communal agriculture and through a woman-led initiative, neighbors helping neighbors in farming will hopefully save the lives of over 700,000 Kenyans over a period of 20 years who would have died from inadequate nutrition.

The traditional practice used to be the norm, yet, climate change has made the outcomes of crops unpredictable and scarce resources threatened economic prosperity, forcing many to seek jobs in more urban areas. This weakened bonds between village members, which made maintaining peace within a village difficult and brought up other issues, such as problems between ethnic groups that had been living in harmony before. Weakened bonds between community members predisposed many Kenyan communities to violence in the elections of 2007 and into 2008. According to Nyokabi Wamuyu, a member of the women-led farm initiative, “Some people say they [we]re fighting for land while others do it to take political sides.”

Over the next three years, the women-led farm initiative is aimed at 3,400 women farmers in the eastern areas of Kenya and in the Rift Valley. The mission of the initiative “is to equip the women with skills to make income-generating farming more attractive than subsistence agriculture.” This will be done by teaching women to bond with other women over shared activities, providing activities that will give women the tools and techniques to negotiate prices and access agricultural activities via mobile devices.

This initiative succeeding will hopefully help bridge the gap between genders in Kenya. Even though the new Kenyan Constitution gives women rights to land and property, gender inequality still exists in many rural farm areas.

– Angela Hooks

Source: AllAfrica
Photo: Calista Jones