The world is far from perfect and is chanting slogans to solve many challenges. The problem that should be in the first place is food-waste management.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one-third of food produced for human consumption is wasted. Which amounts to a whopping 1.3 billion tons per year. On the other hand, according to the Food Aid Foundation, 7995 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. It comes from 12.9% of the world’s population.
When we talk about innovation and change about sustainability, can these obvious numbers be ignored?
Distance between products and consumers is a major factor in preventing substantial food wastage. Agriculture is a rural activity and requires open farms for crop cultivation. But customers are clustered in cities.
Sometimes crop yields must travel several kilometers before reaching the retail shelf. Food is a perishable item and becomes ineligible to take a significant portion before reaching the destination. Refrigerated vehicles were a great innovation in tackling this problem. However refrigeration on the move is an expensive proposition and it is not affordable for developing and third world countries. Ironically, they need it the most.
To solve this problem, startups are moving farm activities closer to customers.
Innovative Solution 1: Hydroponics
We always assumed that we needed agricultural land and open farms. However, the beginning of the twenty-first century challenged this assumption. They are using hydroponics cultivation which does not require soil.
These inland hydroponic farms are located near city centers. Nutrients are provided to developing crops through nutrient-rich trickling water. This is why the name, Hydroponics. In the total absence of sunlight the light provides the LED bulb.
This strategy requires about 5% more water than conventional agriculture. Water ‘Aeroform’ and ‘Plenty’ startups are also using technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data science to increase productivity and crop production. These crops are healthier and more nutritious.
Innovative Solution 2: Food tracking
Many times it takes longer to reach the food destination than planned. This could be due to vehicle failure, bad weather or even local strikes and other reasons.
In the early days of hydroponics. Subtract its share of world food today. Lots of crops and food are wasted in transit. To solve this problem, inventors are using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, or RFID technology.
This technology is used to find clothing in the fashion industry. Airlines use these RFID tags to track luggage. Now it is adapted to track inventory and food in transit.
With RFID tags we know where the food is. We can decide whether it will reach the destination in acceptable size. If the transit takes longer, the planned, food journey can be reduced. The food can be sold at a reduced cost in local grocery markets, or we can share it with needy people.
Innovation Solution 3: Robin Hood Army.
Not all food problems can be solved by technology alone. We also need hearts. And that’s where the Robin Hood Army, the headquarters in Delhi, shines.
They add extra food to restaurants and hungry people in nearby areas. It is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers. Most students. The Robin Hood Army is present in over a hundred cities in India.
We can say, finally, that food-waste is now under the radar and entrepreneurs are working hard, pushing the border to solve this acute problem.