Climate crisis is a food crisis: How technology can stop world hunger

The climate crisis and food crisis go hand in hand. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that we will have to increase food production by 70% by 2050 if we want to feed the expected 10 billion mouths.

At the same time, tons of perfectly edible food is thrown away every year – currently 2.5 billion worldwide. Not only are we wasting valuable resources, but we are also unnecessarily polluting the climate with CO2 emissions. 

Every one of us can help to reduce food waste by consuming more thoughtfully, but we are not responsible for changing the system. We need to think bigger. In addition to political goals, we as a society also need to reimagine how we extract and create the resources and commodities that fuel our economies in the future – and technology can play a big part in this.

Technology can help to put an end to this waste of resources, reduce the damage to the climate and safeguard our food supply in the future. The possibilities are diverse.

The startup Live Green Co. from Chile is convinced that we need to eat more plants to keep every mouth fed. Currently, we consume around 200,000 plants alongside three crops (maize, rice, and wheat) which make up over 50% of the calories we consume through plants. Although we have access to around 300.000 edible plant species. All kinds of plant-based food will become the new normal, along with algaes.

They will be one of the superfoods of the future, since it is a healthy source of protein. The Live Green Co. was recently able to replace milk, eggs, stabilisers or emulsifiers with sunflower protein, fibre and oil, pea protein, banana, avocado, flax meal and custard apple. To push the consumption of more plants, The Live Green Co. is licencing its algorithm to larger food producers that uses data to prescribe 100% natural plant alternatives to processed food. 

In the near future, insects could be on our daily menu. Insect-food-for-humans-production is forecasted to ramp up to 260,000 tonnes by 2030 - a whopping 51,900% rise in comparison to  the 500 tonnes sold in 2019, according to the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed. nextProtein, a French-Tunisian startup is creating those insect-based proteins. 

With the global population rising steadily, startups are also trying to figure out how to make additional gains from farming the land we have, with better crop choices and improved irrigation, among other things. Among them is the startup ConstrellR. ConstellR aims to take a snapshot of the world’s agricultural lands every day from space.

The company will monitor every field on the planet via a constellation of 30 tiny satellites, microsats, with thermal infrared payloads. The vast data generated will then be used by farmers to reduce water and fertiliser usage, and could help cut existing monitoring costs by 97%, according to ConstellR. The first satellite is due to go into orbit in February 2022., a Berlin based impact startup, is following a different approach. The startup is building an AI-driven trading and distribution platform for surplus food to redistribute or process surplus food rapidly and driven by the demand on the market. The goal is to eliminate food waste in the supply chain worldwide and significantly reduce the corresponding climate damage. 

These are only a few examples but all of them make one thing obvious: foodtech solutions will be crucial to tackle not only the food crisis but also the climate crisis. Innovative entrepreneurs from all over the world will pave a way into a future with a new way of nutrition.