Cooking, cooling and cultivating with poop

Rebecca Larson (center), with project partners near Kampala, Uganda.

Decomposing human and animal waste has the power to change lives. While it might sound – and smell – funny, the power of poop lies in biogas, a renewable energy source produced during the breakdown of waste. The process yields a gas of about 60 percent methane that can be used for cooking, refrigeration, and other basic needs. The waste itself can also be processed and applied to fields to enrich the soil and improve crop production.

Rebecca Larson. Photo by : Lizzy LaFave

That’s what waste engineer, Rebecca Larson, assistant professor professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been doing. She’s partnered with Vianney Tumwesige, CEO of Green Heat, a Ugandan energy company, teamed up on a host of projects in Kampala, Uganda that demonstrate new ways to transform waste to resource.

Listen our interview with Prof. Larson here

Improving coconut production in The Philippines using mobile technology

Informational SMS, arrives on a farmer’s cell phone. Photo provided by: Ana Herrera

Coconut is the largest stone fruit in the world. Sold in the food and beverage industry, harvested for construction purposes, used in cosmetics, and transformed into decorative objects, the coconut has many applications. While a quarter of the world’s coconut production stems from the Philippines, the country’s coconut farmers are the poorest around the world. Farmers earn about $2 a day. Climate hazards, pests and unfavorable market market conditions impede the overall production. Continue reading Improving coconut production in The Philippines using mobile technology

Managing bacterial diseases in onion

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The onion has been a part of the human diet for more than 7,000 years. But it’s not just for eating. Onions have been used as currency and even exchanged as a gift!

Bacterial diseases are the most significant threat to their production. Despite considerable effort to control these diseases with chemicals, farmers still lose a lot of onions.

Kim Eang Tho, a doctoral student in the department of plant, soil and microbial science at Michigan State University, is studying the source of bacterial pathogens in onions to find strategies to better manage diseases.

In a discussion with The Food Fix reporter, Ali Hussain, he first talked about the onion as a vegetable.

Listen to their interview here

Photo: Wikimedia

Keeping farms alive on a budget

Mphatso presenting before crowd at google science fair. Photo: Mphatso Simbao
Mphatso presenting before crowd at google science fair. Photo: Mphatso Simbao

As Southern Africa struggles to recover from its worst drought in decades, farmers are seeing their crops destroyed due to El Nino weather changes. Famine afflicts millions of people. Without crops, farmers can’t eat. Without money, they can’t buy farming supplies.
Continue reading Keeping farms alive on a budget

Fitbit for cows to boost dairy farming

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Every year a trillion dollars of milk is sold worldwide.

Small farmers in many developing countries face problems with low milk production.

But an electrical engineer and innovator from Pakistan hopes to help them with a fitbit for cows. It’s called the Cowlar, a collar for cows that is equipped with sensors to monitor their health, production and even if someone is stealing them.

Umer

Umer Adnan, a graduate of electrical engineering from Arizona State University now living in Memphis, Tennessee, says his invention texts such critical information directly to farmers. The result is reduced costs, more milk and more profits.

Ali Hussain, a reporter for The Food Fix, interviewed Umer.

Listen to their interview here