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Science, Technology
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Agriculture and Completing the Circle of Support

think-05-10-Agriculture and Completing the Circle of Support-Featured Image
Finding efficient and affordable solutions to food wastage through technology and distribution channels

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), by 2050, we humans must have had increased our food production by 70 per cent to feed the world’s projected population of nine billion people. But our global village is in frenzy in terms of shifting development goals focused on the creation of an equal society. And then there is climate change. In the future, as little as five per cent of land will be devoted for agriculture, so how will we be able to achieve this feat?

 

Typically, one would imagine that increasing productivity is the only solution. However, preventing food wastage from our existing yield can also dramatically increase food supply. A key finding by FAO is that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — is lost or wasted, which roughly amounts to US$990 billion.

 

The world currently produces enough food to feed 7 billion people but we still see food shortage due to wastage. Loss of produce due to the lack of transportation and preservation facilities is a challenge for any farmer. FAO also found that over 40 per cent of produce is spoiled due to improper handling and storage, and the rest of the produce is consumed in fresh form. It is certainly heartbreaking to see the produce, grown over months with so much effort and care, going to the waste. Also adding to their woes, 95 per cent of research is directed towards increasing productivity, and only five per cent on reducing post-harvest losses.

Typically, one would imagine that increasing productivity is the only solution. However, preventing food wastage from our existing yield can also dramatically increase food supply.

At Science for Society (S4S) Technologies, based in India, we engineer sustainable methods to reduce food wastage through environmentally friendly, low-cost technologies. The visually imperfect produce, which does not fetch the right market price, is dehydrated using our patented Solar Conduction Dryer. Unlike other drying technologies, which require fuel or electricity, our technology retains 85 to 95 per cent of the food’s nutrition and increases the shelf life of the perishable produce by six to 12 months with minimal carbon footprint.

 

With zero operating cost, this technology ensures a 25 to 35 per cent increase in average yearly income to Indian farmers. Our unique award-winning technology has been recognised by USAID, FICCI, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nations, Bayer and other reputed organisations.

 

Due to economic stress, a quarter of a million farmers committed suicide in India in the period between 1995 and 2010. An even larger number of farmers switch their occupation every year due to low income. The two major reasons attributed are low prices of the commodity and post-harvest losses of food. Our technology has the potential to reduce farmer suicide by reducing food wastage and providing additional income to the farmers. Employment opportunities are also created by establishing business units that can benefit from economies of scale in terms of manufacturing, marketing, sales, distribution, maintenance of dryer and market linkage for dehydrated product. This is done by DesiViDesi, a B2B venture run by S4S Technologies, which buys the processed food acting as an aggregator, and bringing their dehydrated produce to the market. By providing market linkage to the dehydrated products, we create a sustainable supply-chain network and also bid riddance to price volatility.

By providing market linkage to the dehydrated products from the farmers, we create a sustainable supply-chain network and also bid riddance to price volatility.

DesiViDesi brings chemical-free preserved food to the city from the farms, providing quality nutrients and ensuring fair-trade practices along with sustainable supply of food. Once our technology is applied to the produce, we carefully pack it and then take it to the shelves to reach consumers. We have partnered with over 1,200 farmer co-operatives across eight countries to process farm fresh ingredients and bring them to retail stores.

 

The trends among urban population are shifting towards convenient food products. With a perennial supply of fruits and vegetables, DesiViDesi products are available without any preservatives and additives. The size of the global processed food market is estimated at US$3.2 trillion with 15 per cent year-on-year growth. In addition, 80 per cent of agricultural products in the developed countries get processed and packaged. The dried and preserved vegetables market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16 per cent by the year 2020. The supportive agro-climatic conditions, cost-competitiveness, and government support are some of the key factors that will drive the growth of this industry. World demand for dried and dehydrated vegetables is to increase over the long term as industrialised countries develop new markets and end-uses for these products. Thus, we see a lot of potential in DesiViDesi.

With eight stock-keeping units currently in India, our products are present in 2,000 shops in Mumbai and available to order online across India. We also aim to expand globally starting 2019.

 

Having done extensive groundwork, we have understood the impact of our ideas on local communities and the scope for scale in different countries. In this manner, DesiViDesi provides a financially viable business model to farmers and self-help groups through intervention of sustainable and innovative technology. Converting challenges into opportunities, we reduce poverty in the agriculture sector while eliminating hunger and overcoming malnutrition in the process.

NIDHI PANT

Nidhi Pant is the Co-founder and Business and Growth Officer at S4S Technologies. She is also a Chemical Technologist. Nidhi is an Aspen Fellow and listed under Forbes India’s 30 Under 30 Special Mentions 2019 for her work in the agriculture sector. For more information about S4S Technologies, visit www.s4stechnologies.com.

JULY 2019 | ISSUE 5

Profit for Good

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Leaders and changemakers of today face unique and complex challenges. The HEAD Foundation Digest features insights and opinions from those in the know addressing a wide range of pertinent issues that factor in a society’s development. 

Informed opinions can inspire healthy discussions and open up our imagination to new possibilities. Interested in contributing? Write to us at info@headfoundation

Stay updated on our latest announcements on events and publications

About

Leaders and changemakers of today face unique and complex challenges. The HEAD Foundation Digest features insights and opinions from those in the know addressing a wide range of pertinent issues that factor in a society’s development. 

Informed opinions can inspire healthy discussions and open up our imagination to new possibilities. Interested in contributing? Write to us at info@headfoundation

Stay updated on our latest announcements on events and publications

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