Maximizing Crop YieldsOne’s local grocery store may be packed with fresh fruits, vegetables and other necessary foods, however, it is highly likely that these goods represent only a fraction of a farmer’s planted crop. In the U.S. alone, around 20 billion pounds of food crops are discarded or unused annually. This is a considerably high number given the country’s large population. In lower-income countries, the average percentage of wasted food crops is between 40% and 50% of the total crop planted. In this way, finding tools and technology to help maximize crop yields in both developing and developed countries will contribute to decreasing poverty-related global hunger by providing methods that decrease the time and cost of cultivating crops.

Precision Farming

Precision farming is the newest agricultural method maximizing crop yields. It minimizes the time, cost and labor involved in cultivation. Precision farming uses technology to closely observe and care for crops. It cuts down on the time-consuming practice and does not require a large labor force.

The Scientific American article states, “precision farming, by contrast, combines sensors, robots, GPS, mapping tools and data-analytics software to customize the care that plants receive without increasing labor. Farmers receive the feedback in real-time and then deliver water, pesticide or fertilizer in calibrated doses to only the areas that need it. The technology can also help farmers decide when to plant and harvest crops.” Using precision farming techniques allows farmers to be more attentive to their respective crops. In addition, farmers save more energy, time and resources while increasing the proportion of the harvested crops.

Irrigation is also a vital element of cultivating crops. Automatic monitoring and control systems that water crops base their specific watering needs on climate conditions. Precision farming optimizes the condition of crops’ care. Moreover, these automatic irrigation systems ensure that crops get the right amount of water they need to thrive in their climate. This minimizes water waste that oftentimes accompanies manual water systems on farms. Additionally, farmers can divert their attention to other crop-yielding tasks rather than closely monitoring crops.

Fungicides are the New Pesticides

Crop loss is largely attributed to pests and other vermin that attack food crops. Pesticides are often used to maximize food crops and protect yields. However, pesticides can oftentimes be expensive and are inaccessible for farmers in rural regions of developing countries. Furthermore, pesticides can be harmful to crops such as fruits and vegetables, decreasing the portion of crops harvested. On the other hand, fungicides are less expensive and less harmful alternatives to pesticides.

Maximizing the portion of food crops harvested helps decrease hunger-related poverty, providing more food options to individuals. Additionally, ensuring that crop yields are large stabilizes the price of food and provides enough supply for the demand. In this way, tools and technological advancements such as precision farming, automatic irrigation and fungicides help maximize crop yields and limit poverty-related hunger.

– Kristen Quinonez
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in IsraelIt is an indisputable fact that everyone needs food for survival. Even further, everyone needs enough nutritious food to truly thrive. That being true, the reality is that not everyone gets enough high-quality, nutritious food yet significant amounts of food are thrown away daily. This dilemma is present globally and Israel is no exception. Food waste and food insecurity in Israel is a growing problem, but one organization, Leket Israel, is working to address both.

Israel’s Food Dilemma

Food waste is an excess of food that usually gets thrown into landfills instead of being consumed. The amount of food wasted in Israel is striking, but possibly more striking is the economic impacts it has on individual and infrastructural levels.

The Environmental Protection Ministry in Israel cited that Israeli families throw away about $1,000 worth of food per year. This equates to $352 million in waste treatment and a month and a half of average household food expenses.

Food waste is present not only on the household level but also prominently in the restaurant and agricultural sectors. Remedying food waste would likely lift a considerable economic weight from the shoulders of many Israeli individuals and communities.

Remedying food insecurity in Israel would do the same. Food insecurity is widely considered as a lack of consistent access to balanced, nutritious food sources. Many in Israel suffer from food insecurity and the number continues to climb.

The Latet organization’s yearly Alternative Poverty Report revealed that the 20.1% of Israeli households in poverty grew to 29.3% in 2020 due to COVID-19.

So naturally, food insecurity has worsened because of the pandemic. The number of food-insecure households in Israel grew from 17.8% before the pandemic to 22.6% in December 2020. Further, the number of households in extreme food insecurity increased by 34,000 during the pandemic, per the National Insurance Institute of Israel.

There is a great need to address the dilemma of food waste and food insecurity in Israel.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is an organization that recognizes the importance of addressing the increased need for more accessible food sources and reducing food waste. Joseph Gitler started an organization in 2003 that would become Leket Israel, a food bank and the largest food rescue chain in the country.

Specifically, Leket takes nutritional food excesses and distributes them to thousands of Israelis who need them. The food provided mostly consists of agricultural surpluses and gathered cooked meals that would become food waste, with special focus on the quality and nutritional value of the food distributed to beneficiaries across Israel.

Nutritional Education

Within food insecure populations that do not have access to reliable nutritious food, there can also be a lack of knowledge about balanced nutrition. For this reason, Leket Israel implements multiple nutrition workshops to make its impact and fight to promote food security more lasting. Nutritional workshops involve lessons on how to select and prepare diverse, healthy meals on a restricted budget. They are given in Hebrew, Amharic, Arabic and Russian to increase accessibility.

There is a greater demand for the work that Leket Israel is doing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in food insecurity across Israel. The organization’s affirmative response to this demand is undeniable. Take, for example, the experience of Natalie Digora. During the pandemic, Leket Israel is helping people like Natalie Digora in Ramat Gan, Israel, who turned to the organization after being sent home from her occupation as an opera singer in March 2020. They have continued serving her.

Turning Food Trash into Food Treasure

Digora’s story is one of thousands. To date, Leket Israel has served more than 2,300,000 cooked meals to more than 200,000 individuals. As it continues this, turning one person’s trash into another’s treasure, Leket gives hope to people struggling with food insecurity in Israel.

– Claire Kirchner
Photo: Flickr

Snack Against Hunger and PovertyPeople can often feel hopeless nowadays when addressing global poverty and hunger on a personal level. One can only donate so many times before it feels pointless. For decades there was a decrease in poverty and hunger all around the world. However, with the pandemic in full force, the numbers are once again increasing.

So what should can each individual consumer do to help those in need and bring these statistics down? They must change daily patterns, so nearly all of their “normal” actions start benefitting someone else. One way is to switch up the food consumers eat. Many brands in a variety of food categories use their profits to fight global poverty and hunger. Switching to one of these brands allows people to effectively snack against hunger and poverty. Below are just a few of the brands aiding in poverty and hunger-reduction.

1. Bobo’s

Bobo’s donates their profits from selling oat-based products to eight organizations. Two of the organizations focus on food security in the U.S. (Community Food Share and Conscious Alliance), and one nonprofit provides housing for low-income families (Habitat for Humanity). Get in a dose of nutritious oats to snack against hunger and poverty.

2. This Saves Lives

This Saves Lives has something for everyone. They have 10 different flavor options, a variety of kid’s options and five types of crispy treats. For each purchase, This Saves Lives provides a calorie-dense packet of paste filled with nutrients to a child in need. So far, over 24 million packets have been sent out!

3. Barnana

Barnana is a company that produces plantain-based chips in normal chip form, tortilla style and flavor bites. All consumers can find a chip that will satisfy whether that’s salty or sweet. The plantains used for the chips are upcycled from those that were deemed not perfect enough for mainstream market standards. By upcycling the produce, Barnana fights food waste and secures extra income for small scale farmers that depend on every sale.

4. Project 7

Project 7 is a healthy candy brand that makes gummies, lollipops and everything in between. They partner with nonprofits to help the seven areas of need: healing, saving, housing, food, drink, teaching and hope. Make chewing a life-giving activity and snack against hunger and poverty.

5. Beanfields

Beanfields is another company that creates chips both sweet and salty, similar to Barnana. The company — centered in a kitchen and not a boardroom — cooks up a variety of bean-based tortilla chips and cracklings. They get creative by producing an environment-conscious snack while also supporting people in need. Beanfields partners with Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps ex-gang members find peace and stability in their new lives. Homeboy Industries partners with many nonprofits fighting hunger and poverty that provide ex-offenders jobs and a sense of community.

Buying snacks and snacking are often mindless activities. Helping people should have that same ease and it does. Yet, it often falls on the back burner and gets forgotten. Buying from companies donating to those in need is one easy solution. People can enjoy their favorite foods in a more effective way. Why just snack when one can snack against hunger and poverty?

Anna Synakh
Photo: Flickr

ugly foodSome countries are creatively battling hunger and food waste by repurposing and rebranding unappealing produce as “ugly food” in Africa. Two projects in Kenya and South Africa demonstrate an interest in reducing food waste to relieve food insecurity.

The Serious Problem with Food Waste

While hunger remains a pressing issue around the world, nearly one-third of all food that is grown or produced is thrown away before it can reach anyone’s dinner table. On the African continent, nonprofits and governments are confronting food waste as a barrier to relieving widespread hunger. These groups focus on improving data collection, promoting sustainable practices and improving food policy to reduce food waste after production.

Adaptability and innovation are key. The Minister for Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development of Zimbabwe, Joseph Made, recently stated, “Obviously, new strategies and approaches are needed to reduce food losses and waste, especially due to the rapidly changing nature of agri-food systems and rapid urbanization.”

A New Approach to Reducing Food Waste

One increasingly popular approach to food waste is encouraging the use of unappealing or “ugly” foods. Ugly foods are fruits, vegetables or other food products that farmers, markets and shoppers reject due to discoloration or misshapenness. While perfectly edible and nutritious, these foods are unmarketable, so markets throw them away. In countries such as the U.S. and France, a growing number of businesses are buying ugly produce from farmers and markets and reselling them to shoppers who want to end excessive food waste.

Nonprofit Work Meets Ugly Food in Africa

In many African countries, nonprofit organizations are finding ways to repurpose unappealing foods to reduce food waste and end hunger. In South Africa, for instance, food waste is a huge problem. About 44% of all foods wasted in South Africa are fruits or vegetables. However, Slow Food is a nonprofit changing that. Through an initiative called World Disco Soup Day, Slow Food sponsors festivals in many cities around the world, including Johannesburg, where ugly vegetables are brought in to make an eclectic, community soup. By feeding the community, World Disco Soup Day raises awareness about food waste and teaches people how to use unappealing produce.

Similarly, according to the United Nations, “farms in Kenya reject up to 83 tons of perfectly nutritious vegetables simply because they are considered too ugly and off-putting for consumers.” An initiative sponsored by the World Food Programme is trying to change that by feeding schoolchildren with fruits and vegetables that would have been thrown away. This project in Nairobi, Kenya has been able to provide school lunches for over 2,200 students.

While still new, the ugly food in Africa movement is growing as a means of reducing food waste and hunger. Organizations like Slow Food and the World Food Programme are leading the way by using creative approaches to feeding communities.

– Courtney Bergsieker
Photo: Unsplash

food insecurity
Food insecurity is, by definition, “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.” For many people around the globe, securing a reliable source of nutritious food is a daily struggle. One of the greatest challenges that faces the world today is ensuring that the world’s growing population has enough food to meet its needs. Below are five facts about food insecurity and possible solutions to the world’s growing food requirements.

Facts About Global Food Insecurity

  1. There is more than enough food produced in the world today to feed all people sufficiently. So why do 815 million people go hungry every day? Food waste is a leading cause of food instability. Approximately one-third of the world’s food production is thrown away or lost due to poor farming practices.
  2. After steadily decreasing for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise. Global hunger affects approximately 11 percent of the global population today. This rise in global hunger has been attributed to a famine which struck a large part of Africa in 2017. It is important to note that many global famines and natural disasters often affect the parts of the world that are hit by food instability the hardest.
  3. Food insecurity has adverse effects on children. Stunted growth, a lack of nourishment leading to underdevelopment in children, is directly caused by food insecurity. Stunting affects nearly 155 million children under the age of five in the world today. This contrasts trends of child and adult obesity in first world countries, which highlights the need for a change in the way people look at food and the practices used when distributing food supplies.
  4. Food insecurity and obesity coexist. In many countries, nutritious healthy foods are often scarce and therefore competition for them is high. Many people turn to easily obtained, calorie-dense foods that lead to obesity. An example of this is farmers turning to high calorie, less nutritious foods to preserve their healthy food crops for profits.
  5. Of all of the countries adversely affected by food insecurity, those most affected are areas involved in violent conflicts. Of the 815 million people experiencing food insecurity, nearly 500 million live in areas affected by conflict. Food supplies are often stolen under military protections or targets for strategic military actions when areas are in war times. This leads to food destruction and constant food insecurity in countries which often need food the most. This can be seen in many countries around the world today such as the Sudan regions of Africa, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Libya and rural countries throughout Asia.

This issue is a growing problem in the world today. One of the largest challenges of today’s generation is figuring out a way to reliably feed the world’s ever-increasing population. Preventing food waste and changing agricultural practices will certainly be the first step to ending food insecurity worldwide. Preventing armed conflicts around the globe and providing nutritious food to the world’s youth will also be on the agenda for those facing food insecurity head-on. Those fighting this major issue have a long road and many challenges ahead in ending food insecurity around the globe.

– Dalton Westfall
Photo: Flickr

A small Caribbean nation with less than 1.4 million people, Trinidad and Tobago faces a serious hunger problem that is afflicting its citizens. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), roughly 100,000 people are undernourished, which accounts for nearly 7.5 percent of the nation’s population. The rest of the Caribbean and Latin America has an average undernourishment rate of only 5.5 percent of the population, which signals how serious hunger in Trinidad and Tobago is.

One of the major reasons for the sheer amount of hunger in the nation is how much food it wastes every year. According to the World Bank, Trinidad and Tobago is the most wasteful country per urban capita in the world.

At a conference launching the nonprofit organization Nourish TT, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul reported that the Caribbean and Latin America waste a staggering 78 million tons of food annually, which totals 6 percent of global food production, and Trinidad and Tobago is the most wasteful country in the region.

Fletcher-Paul said: “The FAO estimates that in T&T if we were to reduce the food losses at the retail level, we would have enough food to reduce, by 50 percent, the undernourished people in the country.” That only includes food wasted in retail. If waste from all sources could be eliminated, the FAO calculates, all the undernourished people in Trinidad and Tobago could be fed.

With a GDP per capita in the world’s top 60, Trinidad and Tobago has an economic infrastructure more than capable of feeding its citizens, yet more than one in 10 citizens goes hungry. Organizations such as Nourish TT are doing their best to help eliminate food waste and ensure that hungry people receive the nourishment they need.

Similarly, the United Nations Development Programme has implemented the MDG1 program to help eliminate poverty and hunger in Trinidad and Tobago as well as other nations. Programs like MDG1 identify areas of critical need such as improving education, growing non-fossil fuel industries and helping reform healthcare and workers’ rights. With programs such as these in place to eliminate waste, hunger in Trinidad and Tobago looks to be a problem on its way to ending.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

A Prospect of Solutions to Hunger in Hong KongAs a cosmopolitan region with high economic prosperity, hunger in Hong Kong is often overlooked, since there are both short-term food assistance and governmental welfare systems available. However, as one of the most densely populated cities in the world with seven million residents, hunger for a healthy diet exists among low-income families in Hong Kong.

According to a 2014 joint study by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service and the Social Work Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, about 70,000 people lack fresh fruit and vegetables for daily consumption, while 40,000 people cannot afford to eat three meals per day.

There is also some argument as to whether Hong Kong is a well-developed or developing region. As indicated by a 2012 census report, Hong Kong’s 15.2 percent poverty rate suggests that around one million people may experience a risk of hunger and related health issues. The population of working poor was estimated at 644,000, while one-third of senior citizens and one-fifth of children live below the poverty line in Hong Kong. In addition, there is a significant gap between the rich and the poor.

The most common ways for low-income families to reduce their living costs include purchasing food on sale in large supermarkets or accepting food donations from charitable organizations. Households that are highly dependent on cheap food have a higher risk of malnutrition and related health and social issues due to the poor quality of food.

In the past few years, several nonprofit organizations have carried out several projects to improve the diets of people living under the poverty line in Hong Kong. The Feeding Hong Kong program both collects and delivers surplus fruits, vegetables and canned foods through multiple charitable organizations and communities. The Food for Thought project focuses on seniors by arranging food donations in the basketball court of Tin Yiu Estate once a week. They provide surplus food donated by market stalls and offer it to anyone who comes, with no means testing required.

While there is still a long march to eliminate the negative impacts of hunger in Hong Kong, many organizations are working to eliminate food waste and get it into the hands of those who need it most.

Xin Gao

Photo: Flickr

A third of all food produced globally is wasted. Up to 40 percent of that food waste is produced by developing countries. Great quantities of food are lost for various reasons such as inadequate harvest techniques, poor post-harvest management and lack of suitable infrastructure and marketing. However, the waste is mainly due to inadequate cooling facilities as well as lack of efficient transportation equipment. Modern technology has allowed solutions to fix these problems and decrease the amount of food being wasted. Listed below are five ways technology reduces food waste in developing countries.

5 Ways Technology Reduces Food Waste in Developing Countries

  1. The lack of access to cold chain technology is one of the reasons food waste is abundant in tropical areas. For example, even though India is the top leading producer of bananas, it only holds 0.3 percent of the world’s market. Some of this gap can be attributed to lack of refrigeration and reliable energy sources. By providing a better system of refrigeration, the food loss would be cut by 25 percent.
  2. Improving packaging to maintain freshness of products during transportation and decreasing the number of insects found would also greatly reduce food waste. An example of such technology is the Modified Atmosphere Packaging. This technology increases freshness by substituting the atmosphere within the packaging system with a protective gas mix, usually consisting of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
  3. Technologies have been created to convert food waste into renewable sources of energy. This is done through the use of anaerobic digesters that break down the waste into large amounts of carbon which can then be converted into biogases or organic fertilizers. This process preserves the nutrients from the food and recycles the nutrients back into the farming system as a clean energy source.
  4. Increasing communication during the transport chain increases overall product awareness. For example, Israel has developed the Xsense system, which uses wireless sensors to monitor storage conditions second by second. The technology is able to identify problems in the transportation process and allows for supply-chain management to improve any problems sensed.
  5. Microfinancing initiatives that invest in small-scale farmers can greatly alleviate the waste load. Through education of how food waste occurs and what is being done to prevent it, small farmers can gain a better grasp on the solutions being implemented. Educated farmers can greatly benefit from increased access to waste-reducing technology and equipment.

There are many ways technology reduces food waste in developing countries. Implementing such technologies can not only reduce waste but give developing countries an opportunity to flourish and thrive.

Taylor Elgarten

Photo: Flickr

Simple Ways to Reduce Waste and Stop Climate Change
Simple ways to reduce waste can also help those that are forced even deeper into poverty by climate change.

Increasing levels of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide raise temperatures on Earth and cause myriad problems such as rising sea levels, melting snow and ice, extreme heat, fires, drought, floods and extreme storms.

These hazards have displaced 21.5 million people per year since 2008. Scientists predict that the amount of people displaced due to climate change will increase in the future.

Regions with large populations that are at high risk for natural hazards and lack the resources to adequately prepare for natural disasters are at the highest risk for displacement. Asia and Pacific Island nations are most at risk for displacement.

Although most people aren’t scientists trained to research methods to stop climate change, there are simple ways to reduce waste in an effort to slow the effects of climate change. Here are some everyday examples:

  1. Save plastic bags for reuse.
    Each year Americans use 100 billion plastic shopping bags. It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce all these bags. This comes at a great cost to the environment, with emissions from petroleum production polluting the air and water.
  2. Cut out other plastic products.
    There is an area in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas full of plastic waste. Pack your lunch and pour drinks in reusable containers, and be sure to recycle plastic bottles. Women can try a menstrual cup instead of other feminine hygiene products that have plastic wrappers or applicators.
  3. Buy second-hand.
    Shop thrift stores for items such as clothing, housewares, holiday decorations and more and buy used books and music rather than new. All these simple ways to reduce waste add up!
  4. Use public transport.
    Take the bus, streetcar or subway instead of driving. Or, get fit by riding your bike or walking.
  5. Carpool with others or combine trips.
    For example, do grocery shopping after work before going home rather than making separate trips. Sites like
    Zimride can help connect with others from the same company or university looking to carpool.
  6. Grow food, buy local and cut down on wasted food.
    Agriculture emits more greenhouse gasses than transportation. As the increasing global population increases the demand for food, experts predict there will be a global food shortage by 2050 because there is not enough land or water to fulfill this demand. Help reduce this demand by planting a small garden. Homegrown tomatoes, lettuce, berries and herbs are easy for beginners. Food that isn’t homegrown should be bought in season and from local farmers, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Vegan diets are more eco-friendly because food produced on farms can be consumed directly by humans rather than being used as animal feed. A vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 20 pounds of CO2 equivalent, 30 square feet of forested land and 45 pounds of grain, according to Esquire Middle East.
    If it’s impossible to go vegetarian or vegan, at least reduce the amount of meat and other animal products in your diet. Try having a Meatless Monday like American families during World War I and II who rationed their consumption for the war effort.

Though they may seem small, simple ways to reduce waste help those displaced by climate change if everyone does their part to help.

Cassie Lipp

Photo: Flickr

Robin Food App Cuts Down on Food Waste and Helps the Poor
Teens in Malaysia won the first Sime Darby’s Young Innovator’s Challenge with the Robin Food App, which connects businesses ready to donate surplus food to local food banks.

The Robin Food App is innovative because it presents a simple solution to two problems Malaysia and many other countries face: hunger and food waste.

Each day Malaysians produce 3,000 metric tons of avoidable food waste—enough food to feed 2.2 million people. About four percent of Malaysians live below the poverty line.

Cutting down on the amount of food wasted worldwide is an essential step to stopping climate change. Agriculture produces more greenhouse gasses than emissions from all cars, trains and airplanes combined.

Grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and other businesses can post on the Robin Food app when they have surplus food. Food banks are then notified of the surplus food in real time, pick up the food and distribute the food to those in need. The app also automatically generates statistics so that users can gain a sense of the impact their donations make.

Robin Food is available both as a web and smartphone app. The mobile app can even be accessed offline in areas that do not have internet access.

The Sime Darby Young Innovator’s Challenge is a new contest that challenges children aged 13-16 to think of a problem and come up with a solution that makes the world a better place. Applicants have the opportunity to participate in regional and national innovation workshops to gain the skills to develop their ideas further. The theme for this year’s contest was tackling poverty.

Sime Darby is a Malaysia-based multinational business conglomeration that has sectors in the plantation, industrial, property, motor and logistics sectors. The corporation is dedicated to bettering society while minimizing the impact on the environment and delivering sustainable development to all stakeholders.

Sime Darby will continue to challenge teens to generate innovative solutions to tackle major issues the world faces with creative solutions. The 2017 Young Innovators Challenge will begin in January. As the Robin Food app saves surplus food and feeds hungry Malaysians, many are excited to see which problems Malaysian teens will solve next.

Cassie Lipp

Photo: Flickr