Tag: technology

Open source solutions for food security

We need to share high- and low-tech technologies to diversify production, says Tyler Reed.

Tyler Reed

con·straint  /kən’strãnt/

noun

  1. a limitation or restriction.

“the availability of water is the main constraint on food production”

An internet search for the word constraint returned this definition. The example usage is surprisingly apropos considering the nature of this post, because water is certainly a constraint on food production. Traditional farming techniques, with plants growing in open plots of soil, can require substantial amounts of water while other techniques require less.
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Fancy a curry?

Adisa Azapagic unpacks the carbon footprint of her evening meal and reveals how you can too with a smartphone app.

Adisa Azapagic

You know the feeling – the end of a hard day at work, no time (and, in my case, no inclination) to cook. So you do what 30 per cent of Brits normally do: stop at a supermarket on your way home and buy a ready meal. Tonight I fancy lamb curry. Mmmm… looking forward to it!

But because of my research on environmental impacts of food, I know my lamb curry has the total carbon footprint from farm to plate of around 6 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq.) per person*. It may be tasty and convenient, but by choosing and eating this curry I will have contributed to climate change, through the greenhouse gases emitted on its journey to my plate.
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Sustainable intensification – miracle or mirage?

Geoff Tansey unravels the rhetoric at a food security conference at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, Chatham House.

Geoff Tansey

The meeting in London on 10-11 December 2012 was held under the Chatham House Rule, which forbids identification of speakers, so you may find this a rather frustrating blog.

One speaker asked participants the key question: why was the meeting talking about the sustainable intensification of agricultural production when the world already produces enough for everyone; when one third of all food produced ends up as waste; when an estimated 40% of corn in the US in 2013 is going to biofuel; and up to 90% of soya produced globally is used for animals not humans?
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Grow not waste not

Improving post-harvest technologies will enhance food security and health, says Asgar Ali.

Asgar Ali

In the midst of a perpetual population boom and conscious awareness of the limited and diminishing resources such as land, fertilizers and water availability, how will governments, organizations and people respond? And how should they respond? 

Significant effort has been dedicated at increasing agricultural productivity. But is it time to focus more on protetcing these gains from post-harvest losses?
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Concerted and coordinated action can bring success in the field and enhance food security, says John Anderson.

John Anderson

We now believe rinderpest has been eradicated from the world. When finally confirmed in 2011, rinderpest eradication will be the only disease conquered after smallpox back in the 1970s.

Rinderpest was one of the most devastating virus diseases of livestock known to man. Closely related to measles in humans, rinderpest (from the German ‘cattle plague’) has probably been around since before the birth of Christ and devastated European powers in the 17th century.
Continue reading Lessons learned from global rinderpest eradication

Generation X and agricultural education

There has never been a more urgent need to train scientists in the food security disciplines, says Christopher Thornton.

Dr Chris Thornton

Publication of the Royal Society report Reaping the benefits: Science and the sustainable intensification of global agriculture in October 2009 provided the clearest evidence yet of the immense challenge of ensuring global food security over the next 50 years.

Crop yields need to rise significantly, but in a manner that requires much lower energy inputs and less dependency on chemical intervention and fertilisers.
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Sara Delaney

At the launch of the book Science and Innovation for Development on 19 January, co-author Sir Gordon Conway said: “It doesn’t matter where the technology comes from, it matters that it is appropriate.”

Too often international development researchers, policy makers and practitioners get caught up in the source of a technology, and use this as the metric for whether it will be successful.
Continue reading What is an appropriate technology?