How Aeroponics & Hydroponics are Helping to Reduce World Hunger
Many people in wealthy nations have never experienced true hunger. We haven’t gone to bed hungry, wondering where our next meal will come from. Our kids complain there’s nothing to eat while staring into a fully-stocked fridge or pantry. In the US alone, we throw away 30-40% of our food supply.
Yet hunger is a real problem, affecting millions of people around the world. Entire families are forced to survive on less food than we consume in a single meal. Children go to bed hungry every night, never knowing what it feels like to have a full stomach.
World Hunger Facts
According to Food for Life Global, more than 800 million people worldwide suffer from not having enough to eat. This means one in nine people on this planet goes to bed hungry each night.
The World Health Organization notes that poor nutrition is the cause of about one-third of child deaths. When a child doesn’t get enough to eat, their growth may be stunted. If the brain doesn’t have adequate nutrition, it cannot function properly. This means hungry children can’t learn properly, even if they’re lucky enough to attend school.
This year’s global pandemic is likely to lead to more food insecurity in places where the food supply was interrupted by quarantines and shutdowns. Some have lost their jobs and livelihoods and will have trouble feeding their families as food prices rise. Other families may have lost their chief breadwinner to the effects of the virus. The number of people facing daily hunger is expected to double to 265 million by the end of 2022. #inflation2022
World hunger statistics are disheartening, to say the least. Fortunately, modern agriculture technologies are continually improving and giving us new ways to combat this problem. One such technology is hydroponics.
What Causes World Hunger?
The majority of those suffering from hunger live in the developing world. Two-thirds live on the continent of Asia. A quarter of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from malnourishment. There are several reasons that these populations are affected so strongly.
A major reason for hunger is drought. In arid, dry regions there’s not enough rainfall to easily grow crops. Irrigation is difficult and expensive, and when there’s no clean water for drinking, it’s almost impossible to fathom finding enough water to grow fruits and vegetables. In other areas, rainfall has become unpredictable due to climate change. When rainfall drops off, crops are lost, livestock dies, and farmland becomes too parched to grow anything.
Lack of Farmable Land
Another factor that is increasingly becoming a problem is the lack of farmable land. Over the past century and a half, about half of the world’s topsoil has been lost to factors like erosion, nutrient degradation, and salinity. Additionally, growing populations are creating dense urban centers where there is no farmland nearby. In the developing world, bringing in food from other regions is simply not affordable for most people.
Even in wealthy nations, poverty is a major contributor to world hunger. Families in many parts of the globe can’t afford to purchase food and don’t have the resources to grow their own. They may beg on the street or survive on scraps found in the garbage. Those who have few resources and little time to prepare meals often turn to cheaper convenience foods. These are high in fats and sugars, but low in vitamins and other nutrients.
LACK OF EDUCATION
Even in rich countries, like the U.S., people suffer from a lack of nutrition where food deserts exist. These typically exist in urban areas where fresh foods are unavailable in the immediate neighborhood. There are no large grocery stores or farmers’ markets for people to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, so people must feed their families on convenience foods or fast food.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a way of growing produce and other plants. While the concept is at least as old as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the technologies involved have grown by leaps and bounds in recent years.
In hydroponic farming, crops are stacked vertically in layers. They require no soil and instead are grown in a solution of water and various nutrients. Hydroponic farms can be grown indoors in warehouses or in greenhouses, eliminating the need for electricity.
Today’s hydroponic farming systems can produce 240 times more crops than traditional farming in one year. And that’s while using 98% less water and 99% less land. This solves several of the major problems in feeding the developing world.
Hydroponics & Aeroponics Can Reduce World Hunger Causes
Hydroponic farming is an excellent way to address all four of the problems discussed above. These farms use a great deal less water than traditional farming, and many recycle their water supply, meaning they can operate even in drought conditions.
Because more plants can be grown in a small space, hydroponic gardens can be planted and maintained in crowded cities, inside greenhouses and warehouses, and even on rooftops. They require no soil, so erosion and soil degradation aren’t a factor.
Hydroponic plants have direct access to water and the necessary nutrients instead of having to pull them from the surrounding soil. This means they grow larger and faster than those grown traditionally. Since they can be grown indoors, they are also not subject to the changing seasons. This means you can have summer fruits in the middle of winter or annual harvests that now ripen three times a year.
With such a large amount of food being grown, the cost of feeding a family can be driven down significantly. And since these farms can exist even in the heart of the densely populated cities of the world, transportation and shipping are virtually eliminated. We’re a long way from eliminating world hunger, and even with hydroponics, there are other factors that will contribute to the problem. But hydroponic farming can make a huge difference for many hungry populations around the world as well as the food desert problem right here at home.