The problems facing the world’s most vulnerable farmers are the barriers to tackling hunger, poverty and sustainability, but what can we do about it?
The answer is to innovate agriculture, and grow resilience within poor communities from the bottom up and we want to develop a challenge prize around this.
The problems facing the world’s most vulnerable farmers are the barriers to tackling hunger, poverty and sustainability.
Besides productivity, growing resilience in agriculture is a larger issue of food quality, closed-loop food systems, accessing resources and even women’s rights. Let’s think radically about how to free people of hunger and poverty through green agricultural innovation.
Agriculture is the engine of growth and hunger reduction in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Working to eliminate hunger fights poverty and realises people’s potential through work and education.
Consequently, food is the fundamental resource to build resilient communities.
The World Bank states that agricultural growth will have 2-4 times higher poverty alleviation power than non-agricultural growth.
One out of nine of the 7.5 billion people around the world is malnourished. By 2025 there will one billion more of us. Regions that are at highest risk of food insecurity will experience the highest growth.
The world needs to be both fed and sustainable
We will need to address the growing need for food. Not only will quantity be important; cost-efficient protein sources will be in ever greater demand, to cater to the shifting appetites of the growing middle class. That puts more pressure to intensify and diversify food production by smallholders - the majority farmers in LMICs - and we need to make sure this is achieved sustainability.
The last half-century has seen a major increase in food production, mainly due to transformation of agricultural practices – the adoption of artificial fertilisers, pesticides, and high-yield crops – as part of the Green Revolution. However, greater intensification of agriculture brought with it unwanted environmental consequences.
A push to produce more out of less has released carbon into the atmosphere, turned forests into barren land and cut biodiversity.
Coping with the future needs of people ought to be coupled with the needs of the planet as a whole.
Climate change affects everyone but has greatest impact on poor economies. Over time, more people will become vulnerable as their livelihoods become unsustainable. Going forward, agricultural practices need to concentrate on closed-loop production systems that are not detrimental to the environment. This approach is a part of the climate-smart agriculture (CSA), which was first coined by FAO back in 2010.
There is much more to improving global food yields than increasing production efficiency. In fact, food security is a value chain problem: we need to diversify our food sources, especially proteins; preventing waste could save a third of all food produced; urbanisation will further complicate market access.
Smallholders, women in particular, experience barriers in accessing:
The Challenge Prize Centre at Nesta wants to bring forth new ideas of how the transformative power of food could fight systemic poverty and build economic and environmental resilience in the developing world. Prizes are powerful tools for incentivising the creation of long-term solutions to social challenges by stimulating new enterprise and endeavour.
Register your interest in our two-day debate and discussion shaping solutions around surgery, food and agriculture, and data technology taking place on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 March 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Challenges Of Our Era Summit is about action, not talk. We want to change the world by radically improving access to key necessities of modern life. We think innovation is key to this. At the Summit, we will design new challenge initiatives that incentivise innovators to fix these global problems.
Our aim is to gather experts and specialist in the fields of interest such as policymakers, academic researchers, frontline professionals and innovators, technologists and funders. We would like you to be part of this change.
Learn about our upcoming Challenges of our Era Summit in Milan, discussing the future of this prize.