Thunderbird School of Global Management an ASU Knowledge Enterprise

Strengthening food security backed by the power of smart data

Lead Organization

Thunderbird School of Global Management an ASU Knowledge Enterprise

Phoenix, Arizona, United States

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Hunger. Waste. Poverty. Strengthening food security will reach across these critical problems with collaborative solutions backed by the power of data and an entrepreneurial mindset. Billions of tons of food are wasted globally each year. Due to inefficiencies in the marketplace, crops go straight from the field to the trash while millions of people go to bed hungry. What if, by connecting farmers, communities, food hubs, markets and consumers through shared data, we could reduce (or eliminate) waste, create value-added shelf-stable products, increase contract reliability, income consistency for farmers, and meet the needs of the marketplace? Using proven strategies and low-cost, adaptable technologies in key at-risk communities, we are gathering meaningful data that will allow farmers to operate efficiently putting resources to work when markets and consumers need them most: less waste, more jobs, stronger farming communities. We are utilizing data to solve the problems of hunger, waste, and poverty.

Problem Statement

According to the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture in 2017, the total number of U.S farms has continued to decline, with 3 percent fewer farms than in 2012. Populations continue to grow. The question becomes how to provide access to locally produced food in environments that are dominated by large, centralized food producers? The solution is to strengthen food security backed by the power of smart data. United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization (2013) reports 30-50% or 1.3B tonnes per year of food gets lost or wasted globally, equal in production to 1.4B hectares of land, 28% of the world’s agriculture area, making it the second-largest country in the world. Additionally, this food waste generates 3.3B tonnes of greenhouse gasses. Causes of food waste relate to local conditions where inefficiencies from lack of infrastructure, consumer behavior, and quality standards have not proven successful. These inefficiencies result in crops going straight from the field to the trash – and millions go to bed hungry. What if, by connecting farmers, communities, food hubs, and markets with shared data, we could reduce (or eliminate) waste, by turning perishable foods into shelf-stable products? What if we could increase contract reliability and better meet the needs of the marketplace? Backed by the power of data and an entrepreneurial mindset we can offer solutions to these critical problems. There will be less waste. There will be more jobs. Together we can create a healthier food supply, revitalize farming communities, all through sustainable environmental and business

Solution Overview

Our solution will reduce food waste by 50%-75%, saving an estimated 700M - 1B tonnes of food, fueling billions of additional funding back into the rural communities that support our producers and eliminate hunger. Based on multi-stakeholder projects in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia that focus on linking small-scale producers to modern markets, our solution is well documented from the leading food system researchers globally and centers around communication and cooperation between farmers and value producers. This will focus on efficiencies to reduce overproduction, diversify and upscale production centered on the value chain (from farmers to manufacturers to consumers). Incorporation of proven methodologies, relevant for global farming communities fueled by technology and collaborative partnerships, we will create a sea-change through knowledge transfer as we invest up to $1 million in 100 select North and South American, African, and South East Asian communities using data overlays that identify homelessness, poverty, unemployment, and small to mid-size farms to determine appropriate targets. This funding will be the initial driver and basis for long-term, sustainable impact fueled by the entire value-chain that creates greater efficiency and opportunity while reducing waste. Every participant in the value-chain will be impacted including entrepreneurial businesses, environmental solutions (less waste), social (job opportunities), and community implications (revitalization of rural locations). Empowering communities to vertically integrate, wasteful processes can be eliminated. Farmers can reach more markets and consumers. Empowering each target community with low-cost, state-of-the-art technology will provide the platforms for measuring and understanding the impact of our solution.

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Project Funders

  • USDA NRCS 2018 - 2019
  • Laudato Si 2017 - 2018
  • Elemental Excelerator 2017 - 2018

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