The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Attributed to King Nebuchadnezzar II and described by writers of the time as a pensile paradise. Resembling large green mountains constructed of mud bricks; these gardens were the pride of the ancient Babylonians. Legend has it that the King created the gardens for his queen who missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland. Who would have thought that this gesture of affection would set the trend for modern agriculture today? Vertical farming, the act of growing food in high-rise buildings, could change the way we produce food in the future.
Feeding a growing world poses complex challenges for which new technologies can help provide solutions. We share information on improved food production that is balanced with issues related to international trade, certification, animal welfare and health. We also share information on areas such as deforestation.
The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) recently launched an inaugural report providing an overview of the state of food security in Africa, as part of their State of Food Security in the World Series. The report provides some good indicators of food security and how Sub-Saharan Africa is tracking, whilst the statistics show some great positive trends there are still a large number of people that are undernourished.
Biofuels can help developing countries reduce carbon emissions, reduce over dependence on fossil fuels and increase energy security. However, this alternative must be pursued with care to reduce possibility of environmental degradation, deforestation, food shortages and high food prices. One way is to pursue second generation feedstocks. Limiting use of some food crops in biofuel production and mapping out areas for biofuel crop production can also prove helpful.
One evening, as Calvince Okello -the creator of M-shamba - was watching the news at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology where he studied biomechanical and processing engineering, a particular feature left him at his wits end. The Eastern part of Kenya was suffering from severe famine while the Western part had registered a bumper harvest with maize even rotting on farms. This stark contrast of pockets plenty amidst areas of serious lack was enough to push Calvince to think of a solution. He attended a lecture the following day that would set M-shamba in motion.
The World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, IBRD) launched the Green Bond Impact Report in June 2015, with detailed information about the environment and social results expected from projects supported by its green bonds. The report provides an update on the progress of the 100 green bonds (US$8.4 billion) that have been issued to support projects aiming for low carbon and climate-ready growth in IBRD’s member countries.
Kenya is still in the throes of the genetically modified (GM) debate. The long-term safety of the consumption of GM foods has spurred Kenya into a state of caution from which it is yet to recover. But as Kenya continues to grapple with how best to grow her food, across the Atlantic someone is questioning the very need for food. Meet Robert Rhinehart. South Carolina based software engineer and creator of Soylent - a powdered meal replacement. All an average adult’s nutrition needs in one small bag, the food of the future.
In 2007 the government of Rwanda established the NDBP (National Domestic Biogas Program) in partnership with SNV (The Netherlands Development Organization) and GIZ (The German Development Organization) as financial and technical support partners. The objective of the program was to develop a commercial and sustainable domestic sector, substituting firewood with biogas for cooking and increasing agricultural production through provision of bio-slurry as a fertilizer.
The Kenyan Meteorological Service with the TU Delft/Oregon State University are working on a project Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) to develop a solid network of automatic weather stations in Kenya. The project intends to create a technological solution through a cost effective network of hydro-meteorological measuring stations that will map and predict water and weather in the region.
The good news is the improved deployment of cold chain technologies will dramatically decrease food waste in emerging economies. The bad news cold chains will increase emissions due to the refrigeration process - leading to greater climate change. New technologies are being developed to make cold chains more efficient - absolutely critical as they rapidly increase around the world.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) have released a report A tank of cold: cleantech leapfrog to a more food secure world. The key message from the report is that about a quarter of food wastage in developing countries could be eliminated with better refrigeration equipment. The report describes a new way of creating a cold chain system in emerging economies. This system can be built from the ground up as there is little existing instrastruce and the ability to harness renewable energy. Creating the opportunity to cleanleap over existing more polluting systems.