Survey Says: More Innovations for Sustainable Ways to Alleviate Hunger

"Vertical gardens:" a version of a micro garden being used in Kibera, Kenya to grow vegetables.

"Vertical gardens:" a version of a micro garden being used in Kibera, Kenya to grow vegetables.

For the past few months, we’ve been collecting information about agricultural innovations from all over the world (survey in English and French). We shared the initial responses in September but continue to receive interesting information and recommendations from farmers, NGOs, research groups, and policymakers in a multitude of countries. Below are a few tidbits we’d like to share:

From our friends at the World Vegetable Center in Arusha, Tanzania, which Danielle plans to visit later this month: “The world currently depends on a few exotic vegetable species such as tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, etc., and yet hundreds of other species of indigenous vegetables exist but are not properly exploited. In many cases they are much more nutrient-dense than the common exotics, which is of substantive importance in areas in which malnutrition — both under-nutrition and obesity — are serious problems. The difficulty at present resides in the fact that seed of such species are difficult to get, breeding programs are rare or absent, and the supporting agronomic research to maximize their quality and performance has not received sufficient investment.

This innovation needs both a change in policy environment by governments and other supporters of agricultural research to embrace a much greater investment in crop diversity rather than relying on funding only a few staple crops…. [T]he introduction of improved indigenous vegetables has a considerable chance of not only allowing farmers to grow and market themselves out of poverty but also to ensure that the poor, vulnerable, and disadvantaged and their families have a much better chance of attaining a sensible balanced diet than at present.”

From a member of our Advisory Group in Senegal: “The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) introduced the Micro Gardens in Senegal. Rodale International was contracted to train women and implement micro gardens in neighborhoods in Thies. The practice rapidly spread in Thies and other cities. A medical doctor from the Fann Hospital in Dakar established a micro garden and is now feeding his patients and monitoring its impact on their health and recovery.”

From the International Rural Poultry Centre and Kyeema Foundation in Mozambique: “Mortality due to Newcastle Disease (ND) is a major constraint to village chicken production and, consequently, impacts on household food security and livelihood…. With support from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the European Union, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the FAO, the International Rural Poultry Centre is supporting veterinary laboratories to produce quality vaccine and veterinary services [and] local NGOs and communities to implement ND vaccination campaigns…. Impact studies have demonstrated a significant increase in village chicken flock size, and poultry consumption and sale in participating households. As women and children are frequently the owners and carers of village chickens, they benefit directly from the vaccination program. Increased village chicken production also contributes to wildlife conservation and HIV/AIDS mitigation.”

From Premier Organic Farms Corporation in the United States: “Premier’s Pod Unit is a Closed-Loop Food Tilapia Fish RAS (recirculation aquaculture system) that provides a nutrient source to grow a Vegetables & Food Production greenhouse system, which in turn filters water through root uptake; it then re-cycles purified water back into fish tanks for re-use. Rainfall is harvested to conserve water and reduce system water requirements. The Pod Unit is designed to grow organic vegetables and foodstuffs based on regional needs. The system uses approx. 70% less water than a conventional farming system, with subsequent water conservation accumulation each time the water is filtered and re-cycled through the system. The fish produce nitrogen-rich water used as the nutrient and water source for growing vegetables; the vegetable root system filters the nitrogen out of the water creating a symbiotic relationship between the two growing segments. Methane gas biofuels from excess fish effluent can be used to produce electricity to operate the system. The system is also designed for adaptation for use with solar and wind power, or can use downstream scrubbed/filtered waste energy from power plants in the form of steam and water.”

From Martindale Farm in Zambia: “Holistic Management (started by Allen Savory) came about to deal with environmental degradation but has potential to reverse global warming as well. It has been most applicable to grazing land but the principles can be applied to anything successfully.”

From Rainbow Sustainable Solutions in the Netherlands: “[One practice is] turning coconut waste into added-value products like cattle feed, fish feed, and fertilizers. Continuing R&D in the Netherlands includes the establishment of a certification system. Through a fermentation process, coconut waste is turned into cattle feed and fish feed, which makes it possible to set up cattle farms and aquaculture in coconut regions.”

Stay tuned for more updates from the survey, and please fill it out or pass it on to others who might be interested!

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