The global food system has been projected to experience an unprecedented confluence of pressure in the next 40 years, with demand for high-quality diet, competition for land and climatic challenge leading the pressure. Food is not an option and its security is a clarion call for all. But some young entrepreneurs are at the forefront of food sustainability, providing revolutionary services while also benefiting from the industry worth more than $7.8 trillion.
By 2050, the world's population would grow to about 9.7 billion from its current 7.3 billion. This will increase food demand by 60%, according to the UN. A more detailed study would have shown that the food and farming sector is responding accordingly to the world's growing population if potential challenges in the sector are to be neglected. Globally, the food system has grown by 150% since 2004 and on an average, has yielded higher returns to investors, more than any other sector, according to Sustainable Brands as previously reported by McKinsey. Despite the lucrative market, the industry would be doomed to depreciate if its growth is not accompanied by innovations necessary to cushion growing challenges in the sector. Food waste, climatic change and increased population are the major factors sponsoring a bleak picture in food production.
Industry Leaders Magazines has recognized five young entrepreneurs that are revolutionizing food and farming at the moment. Some of the ways include the provision of sustainable marketing system to reduce waste, connecting sponsors to local farmers and smart farming.
1. Jamila Abass, Kenya
Service: Sustainable marketing system
With roughly one-third of the food produced globally doomed to be wasted, more than half doesn’t make it to the table – they perish before getting to the consumers. This discourages most farmers as well as investors due to market uncertainties. Sustainable marketing alleviates the problems of poor sales by promoting community development as a means of meeting the needs of participants in the community.
Jamila Abass, M-Farm CEO and co-founder has introduced a sustainable marketing system in Kenya through M-farm. It’s a virtual co-operative which help subsistence farmers in the nation to connect with nearby buyers via SMS. The co-operative also provide lucrative market information to the farmers which include when to harvest or plant based on demand undulation. Also, farmers in the same area are able to connect with one another to share farming experience, advice one another, direct questions to experts in the industry and to combine farm produce for big buyers. Entrepreneur Abass was elected for Ashoka Fellowship in 2013, Aspen New Voices Fellow in 2015 and Quartz Africa Innovator.
2. Alfredo Costilla Reyes, Mexico
Service: Smart Farming
Making farms and fields to become more efficient is the essential value of smart farming. Through emerging field technologies which include tools for process atomization, devices for optimization, and software solutions, smaller farms have been transformed into commercial focus by increasing its capacity to generate more profits from the area available. This alleviates the challenge of land shortage or competition. And the main result is to increase agricultural produce, preserve resources and limit capital expenses.
Alfredo Costilla Reyes is an electrical and computer engineer, founder of BitGrange, a hydroponic system which can only be sustained using an LED light. BitGrange uses a mobile phone app to evaluate environmental factors, such as light and temperature in real-time and notifies the farmer for necessary actions like planting or irrigation. “Plant-Connect-Sync-Play” is the four-step process BitGrange uses to gamify agriculture for farmers. This has encouraged and engaged more youths in Mexico to participate in farming. The Mexico National Youth Award was presented to Costilla Reyes by the Mexican government in honour of his revolutionary development.
3. Onyeka Akumah, Nigeria
Service: Connect farmers and sponsors
About 100 years ago, farming was 100% labour-intensive. There was no technology or facilities to reduce the labour, but now things are different. Machinery and high-end agricultural devices are meeting the needs. In addition to its recent flexibility, one can now own a farm without even participating a bit. The entire technology has involved an agreement on the percentage that should be expected from a capital after a period of time.
Onyeka Akumah is the CEO and founder of FarmCrowdy, a digital agriculture platform designed to connect small-scale farmers and sponsors who will invest in the full farm cycle and receive a certain percentage after the product is sold. The funds are used to carry out the entire farming, from seed to harvest. FarmCrowdy, farm sponsors and farmers split the profit once the Agric produce is sold. The platform is designed to enable sponsors to follow up all farming process via videos, pictures and text messages. FarmCrowdy has more than 7,000 sponsors across Nigeria and other parts of the world supporting over 3,000 small-scale farmers across various states in Nigeria
4. Luke Craven, United Kingdom
Service: A sustainable source of protein
Seed and chemical companies invest fat amounts to advance seeds in view of achieving better performance in varied conditions and also adapt to the available environment. Similarly, biological algorithms have been invented to build crops that can battle damaging insects and battle weeds. These are all on a quest to increase farm produce for specific nutrients. While these are focusing on improving crops and methods of sustaining what they have available, this innovation is dedicated to sourcing nutrient through improvisation. It’s a call that there is need to increase what we have and there is need to seek other sources of producing scarce essential nutrients.
Luke Craven is a co-founder of an award-winning start-up, BiJimini. The company farms crickets and uses the insects to produce high-protein flour called PowerFlour. The product is a blend of wholemeal flours supplied by local millers and cricket powder. PowerFlour, which is very rich in protein, zinc, B vitamins and zinc can be substituted with regular flour for traditional meals prepared with flour using the same recipe and quantity required. Cricket farming is a poor emitter of greenhouse gases, requires less feed compared to conventional livestock, and less space. The company is aiming at promoting pure cricket powder and PowerFlour to consumers in need of a sustainable source of protein.
5. Josh Gilbert, Australia
Service: Agricultural climate change motions
Climate change is one of the factors wrangling food production. As a problem the world cannot fight physically or through policies when the effect is already intense, one feasible way of salvaging the ecosystem for food production is by educating the society and setting new environmental standards. Being aware may also encourage initiatives that would be instrumental in promoting a climate that will be beneficial to agriculture.
Josh Gilbert is a farmer and Co-founder of Australian Farmers for Climate Action. He is a changemaker in Australian Indigenous, agricultural and environmental fields. He is committed to environmental outcomes and creates various materials to educate the society on climate change. This includes ‘Australia’s Young Green Farmers’, which is a climate reality project video. Other materials include Tractor Talks on podcast and a cookbook depicting the stories of 50 Australian farmers written in collaboration with the World Wildlife Famers. Gilbert’s strategy includes the breaking the existing stereotypes and the use of Indigenous storylines to teach about the value of agriculture and the environment. For his advocacy, Gilbert has won the Foundation for Young Australians’ Local Legend Award and that of the Australian Geographic Young Conservationist of the Year.