One percent of food sent abroad by USAID is lost to food spoilage and spillage because of failed packaging, according to Mark Brennan, a researcher with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
That may sound insignificant, but it amounts to losing roughly 10,000 metric tons of food and countless dollars that could be invested in feeding hungry people.
In the first installment of the Food Fix’s new series “10 ideas to make the world less hungry,” Brennan suggests new methods of packaging to reduce food spoilage.
“As this food kind of moves its way through the supply chain from farm to beneficiary you have instances of the bags breaking,” he said. “You have also instances of things getting wet, of insects crawling into bags.”
Researcher Ana Herrera explains a mobile technology network that helps farmers warn each other of pest and disease outbreaks and extreme weather. The same system can deliver advice on how to handle such disasters directly to the farmers, and coordinate a response with experts in the field and government officials.
This Grameen Foundation project is supported by Michigan State University’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.
When geographer Joe Messina first analyzed satellite images of Malawi farm fields, he figured he had made a mistake.
Almost everywhere he looked in the East African nation he found maize harvest declines over the previous decade. But this was the site of the Malawi Miracle, a fertilizer subsidy program so successful that it was lauded by researchers in scientific journals and by writers in the New York Times and The Economist.
It became a model program used to justify similar enormous investments by the international community in other African nations.
“I assumed I was wrong,” said Messina, a researcher at Michigan State University’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.
In Uganda, farmers in rain-fed agricultural communities depend on irrigation. Without irrigation, they battle with fluctuating and
unpredictable weather conditions, droughts and flooding. Crops don’t do well and yields are low.
Researcher Abraham Salomon, of the University of California-Davis, is working in eastern Uganda, collaborating with local farmers, social advocates, and engineers on flexible and community-managed irrigation interventions. They’ve been installing and maintaining adaptable irrigation systems that allows tomatoes, cabbage, beans and other vegetables to thrive in the dry seasons and the unpredictable rainy seasons.