NamZ Pte Ltd

Creating a Sustainable Economy for Future Fit Crops

Food security

Generating sustainable growth in the supply of underutilized, nutrient-rich and climate-resilient crops ("Future Fit Crops") in parallel with stimulating consumer demand for healthy, nutrient-rich foods.

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Lead Organization

NamZ Pte Ltd

Singapore, South West Community Development Council, Singapore

http://www.namz.com.sg

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Project Summary

Although around 300,000 plants have been grown or collected for human consumption throughout history, only three crops now - maize, wheat and rice - supply more than half the world’s daily calories. This, coupled with the industrial process of refining out nutrients and fibre, has resulted in energy-dense but nutrient-poor agricultural commodities - a major contributor to the high incidence of malnutrition in the world's population today. Furthermore, the food industry's over-dependence on a small handful of crops has led to land degradation and deforestation partly due to the absence of crop rotation.Our proposed solution is to introduce nutrient density and crop diversity back into our food supply by (a) incentivizing farmers to shift away from existing commodity crops towards Future Fit Crops, (b) collaborating with food companies to incorporate Future Fit Crops into their product offering and c) integrating behavior change approaches into our solution to increase demand for such products.

Problem Statement

There are 2 groups which are particularly affected by the lack of crop diversification: (a) smallholder farming communities experiencing falling incomes due to degrading lands and climate change; and (b) women and children in low-income families who are afflicted with malnutrition due to a dependence on energy-dense but nutrient-poor staple foods.The problem exists because the current food industry (a) favors the use of relatively low-cost, commoditized ingredients in their products and (b) is generally unwilling to incorporate new ingredients at the risk of changing their products’ taste and losing customers. This lack of demand for underutilized crops means that farmers have to rely on existing commodity crops for income. The result is that consumers are left with predominantly nutrient-poor food choices, while nutrient-rich options fall within a niche segment that commands a price premium.A solution necessitates a change in consumer behavior to demand sustainably-sourced, nutrient-rich foods (particularly in markets with high rates of malnutrition such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Ghana) which in turn (a) incentivizes food companies to incorporate Future Fit Crops in their products and (b) creates new income opportunities for farmers to grow Future Fit Crops.Another infliction point is the development of new food processing technologies that are capable of incorporating Future Fit Crops into existing food products without adversely impacting the manufacturer's costs of production and the taste of the final product. This would create a compelling business case for food companies to create a nutrient-rich product portfolio at affordable prices.

Solution Overview

Our triple-layered solution comprises:(a) Agricultural level - scaling plant breeding programs and implementing agricultural systems relating to Future Fit Crops (e.g. Bambara Groundnut, Moringa, Lupin, Pumpkin, etc.) to ensure that high yields can be obtained on degraded land under local climate conditions. The availability of the resulting crop seeds and know-how to local farmers will assist them with transitioning towards Future Fit Crops away from existing staple crops.(b) Food processing level - engaging the scientific community and collaborating with food companies to implement innovative food processing technologies in order to incorporate Future Fit Crops into food products without materially impacting costs of production or taste.(c) Consumer behavior level - developing behavioral models, educational and marketing campaigns to incentivize consumers to favor nutrient-rich food offerings.This holistic solution generates an increase in both supply and demand for Future Fit Crops in parallel (discrete solutions are less likely to be successful).Evidence of progress include: (a) farmers opting to diversify crops as a viable business, (b) food companies reformulating their products to include Future Fit Crops and (c) consumers demanding a greater variety of nutrient-rich food offerings.Over a 5-year period, our solution has the potential to: (a) rejuvenate degraded lands through crop rotation and offer farmers a new income opportunity (with an initial focus on agricultural communities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Ghana) and (b) reduce the incidence of malnutrition due to the availability of affordable, tasty and nutrient-rich foods (initial target markets include Malaysia, Indonesia, Ghana followed by India and Australia).

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Project Funders

  • NamZ Pte Ltd

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