I LOVE smart solutions. I especially love them when they come from unexpected places.
Africa, as a whole is RIPE with innovation in the tech and agriculture space. On my first trip to Tanzania, Kenya and Zanzibar in 2013, I was on a nimble production team working for Planet Forward, an online publication dedicated to empowering young people to share impactful stories. We were tasked with finding the simple solutions to HUGE problems and answering the question: How do we feed 9 billion people by 2050?
It was no surprise that we met innovators taking it to the next level. Here are three of my favorite solutions to feeding a hungry planet:
1. Mary Njenga and Charcoal Briquettes
This incredible food scientist is doing her Ph.D. looking at indoor air pollution in the slums of Nairobi. Even if agriculture production is up, Mary knows that people still starve because they have no way of cooking the food. She empowers women in the poorest slums to use waste materials to create a briquette that only costs three pennies and burners longer and safer than most mainstream fuel methods.
2. Zanzibar's Only Greenhouse
Zanzibar, a small island off the coast of Tanzania, imports most of its vegetables. However, the island nation has the perfect climate to grow cucumbers and tomatoes, which are staple crops in Zanzibarian cuisine. In 2013, this was the only greenhouse and it does not appear they have created any more on the island due to extensive costs. However, the company offers farmer training in drip irrigation and pest control. Even one greenhouse can make a huge difference in agricultural production.
3. App Gets Farmers Paid
John Waibochi, the founder of Agrimanagr, uses simple technology to ensure farmers get paid. They followed the supply chain to see where fraud and corruption could be eliminated. By using a simple scale and receipt machine, in addition to a mobile phone for tracking, farmers weigh their items and expect payment for what they deliver. No longer can a clerk cheat the system to manipulate the profits.