People are moving in ever increasing numbers from rural areas into urban city centers. Global population is expected to increase by nearly 40% to 9 billion people in the next 40 years. Threats to agriculture from climate change, loss of arable land, pesticide resistance, and water shortages continue to grow more acute. As noted in our previous article “Urban and Agriculture Can Coexist,” cities and their attendant entrepreneurs will need to embrace urban agriculture in order to meet this future demand for food and ensure food security.
Walmart and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently teamed up on an initiative to bolster rural farmers in Central America and integrate them into the company’s supply chain. The agreement will help small farmers to earn more from their vegetable and fruit growing operations, which will in turn enable them to improve their economic livelihood. The partnership unites Walmart’s nascent Global Sustainable Agriculture initiatives with the USAID’s Feed the Future program, a global hunger and food security initiative focused on investing in agricultural development to sustainably reduce hunger and poverty. The U.S. has pledged $3.5 billion over the next 3 years
According to a USDA survey, on-farm renewable energy production continues to grow in rural America. More than 8,500 farm operators are currently producing renewable energy using methane digesters, solar panels, and wind turbines. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack hopes the survey will encourage more operators to produce their own energy. Vilsack noted that: “The reality is there is a significant energy savings and a money savings associated with these operations. And so as farmers and ranchers and growers learn about the fact that they can save $2,500 or so on their energy bills they may be more interested in this.”
Flying over the Midwest in a plane one sees vast fields of wheat, grain, corn, and other cash crops as far as the eye can see. Then, a few hundred miles later one catches sight of the nearest large city with its skyscrapers, vacant lots, and tar roofed buildings where some of that agriculture crop will most likely end up.
Now, imagine 20 years from today flying over cities like Chicago, New York, and Detroit and seeing vast swaths of green, red, and gold agricultural terrain below in place of the expected black tar roofs and vacant grey expanses of abandoned lots; a grid of black and gray surrounded and overtaken by agriculture production.
Husk Power Systems (HPS), a startup company based in India, has developed a renewable energy system, which uses the discarded husks of rice grains to generate electricity. When heated, rice husks release gas that can be harnessed to power generators. A small HPS processing plant can provide electricity to several hundred households. The husk power project is subsidized by the Indian government, which has set a goal of deriving 15 percent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. Read the full article: Indian Electricity Initiative Shines New Light on Farm Garbage.