FOOD SECURITY

How do we ensure food security responsibly?

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According to the World Bank, sustainable environment and natural resources management is at the heart of their efforts to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. Biodiversity and natural resources constitute the social safety net of the poor, representing a food bank and often their only source of livelihood. For example, wild-capture fisheries constitute 40% of total animal protein intake for countries in West Africa and sustain more than 3 million people. The World Bank has committed $33 billion in funding for the environment and natural resource management over the past decade, with IDA contributing $7.7 billion for environmental sustainability in the poorest countries.

Addressing climate change is an urgent priority for the World Bank Group. Without bold action now, the warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach of millions and roll back decades of development. For that reason, climate risk is now considered in all country assistance and partnership strategies for the poorest countries. About 85% also consider disaster risk. All country strategies increasingly incorporate climate- and disaster-resilient planning and interventions such as “climate smart” agriculture and measures to boost food security and water efficiency.

It is in the light of this that companies such as Senter 360 have taken up the responsibility to develop products in line with this vision.  Senter 360 is a South African-based international company that operate mainly throughout Africa.  Although it is an irrigation equipment manufacturing and supply company, Senter 360’s research and development funding is channelled into developments such as the use of solar power to drive irrigation and pumping equipment, and the use of modern technology to optimize water usage. 

As water is a precious commodity getting it to the roots of the crop as effectively as possible and with minimal wastage is of the utmost importance.  There is sprinkler technology available that can control the droplet size, optimizing it for the least evaporation while simultaneously keeping it small enough not to compact the soil and causing runoff and water loss.  Multi-level soil moisture measuring probes empower users to optimize water application by measuring soil moisture at successive depths of 100mm.  Water application can therefore be perfectly managed by not over-irrigating and wasting water and washing out fertilizers, or under-irrigating and causing loss of yield.  Although this is high-technology equipment, it is affordable and can be effectively used in smaller scale farming operations.   All the equipment can be controlled by the user’s smart phone; an instrument becoming common sight in Africa, thus alleviating the use of expensive purpose-made and difficult-to-service equipment. 

The purpose is to support the bigger vision by bringing efficient means of crop production to a market that has previously never had the knowhow or funding to step up to first-world standards of crop production and has the least impact on the environment while producing the maximum yield.  Double cropping becomes viable with low risk, and less land and resources needed to produce more.

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