This report addresses a critical issue of our time – how can we exploit new ideas and new technology to nourish and feed a growing world, and do it sustainably?
Working on food systems reform, it is easy to underestimate the speed of change around us. But the reality is that even in the remotest corners of the globe, the drivers of food systems change are making their presence felt with storm-like force. Populations, especially in Africa, are growing and moving. Technology—particularly mobile telephones and off-grid power—is opening up new possibilities for doing things differently to reduce the price of nutritious and safe food. Natural resource depletion and climate change are making life ever more difficult and precarious, especially in agricultural communities. And globalisation and trade mean that the sharing of ideas, products, and even institutions is growing exponentially.
The report sheds light on twelve specific innovations which we judge can reduce the price of nutritious food, address food safety issues, and increase shelf life, in low and middle-income country settings. In all cases, the primary beneficiaries of the deployment of these innovations would be the poor (or at a minimum, those on modest incomes). All twelve innovations are ready to be deployed at scale within the next five years. The report provides numerous concrete examples of how each concept has already been implemented in a relevant setting. We hope that social entrepreneurs, programme implementers and policymakers will take note of these innovations and incorporate them into relevant food systems initiatives going forward.
Equally importantly, given the accelerated rate of innovation development, the report is intended to provide a methodology for screening and prioritising innovations. This methodology is available for others to use, perhaps looking at other important characteristics such as potential for gender transformation or mitigation of the effects of climate change.
Food systems are on the move, and fast. With these insights, GAIN and the Global Knowledge Initiative hope that some of the drivers of change can be harnessed for better, rather than worse, nutritional outcomes.