The term food security was coined back in 1974 at the World Food Conference. The conference was convened by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome following a famine in Bangladesh. During the conference, Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state, declared that no child would go to bed hungry within 10 years. Nearly 50 years on, famines continue to exist, with growing populations in some emerging markets, harsh climates (and climate change) impacting potential crop yields, and food wastage across the globe all contributing to the challenge of food security.
This comes against a backdrop of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including a commitment to improving security. Food security is defined as a situation wherein all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.
Recently, an article for Global Cause by Dr. Maximo Torero Cullen, chief economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization, highlighted that 3 million people worldwide lack healthy diets. Last year, there was an increase of 161 million people facing hunger. Some 690 million people today are going hungry. He noted that the global agriculture sector faces considerable challenges in delivering better quality food and distributing it equitably.
Distribution is a real issue. The reliance on importing adds to the problem for some countries, and the biggest importers aren’t necessarily those you would expect. Germany tops a table provided by FAOSTAT for importing fresh and dried vegetables. China, the US, and Spain come next. Red Sea Farms’ home, Saudi Arabia, is fifth.
Red Sea Farms is passionate about improving food security. Our focus is on feeding the world sustainably. As we grow, we want our technology to significantly impact sustainable food production, enabling more products to be farmed and used where harsh climates make it more challenging to grow. Dr. Cullen’s article mentioned earlier highlights that AgTech solutions have a role to play.
We have created unique technology driven by saltwater, desiccants, and sunlight. It is perfect for use in harsh climates where sunlight is abundant and freshwater limited. Given that Saudi Arabia has these attributes, it is an ideal place for us to research, design, and test commercial facilities. Our tomatoes are now sold locally, providing consumers with fresher, great-tasting produce that reduces the carbon footprint of the Saudi food industry.
The wider industry needs to embrace food technology that will reduce hunger, deliver better quality food, and encourage more equitable distribution. Of course, this will require investment; however, protecting the planet can be accomplished along with profit. Advances in technology mean that even now, costs have come down for previously importing locations to use technology for local food production.
Consumers can support the cause for greater food security by choosing local products and using firms with strong environmental and social principles. Consumers deserve access to better, healthier food.
On World Food Day, we are encouraged to be more responsible with natural resources and nurture people to make better food choices. Red Sea Farms would like to ask governments, the private sector, the food industry, and consumers to help us by playing their part to improve food security.
- Dr. Ryan Lefers, CEO of Red Sea Farms.
- Red Sea Farms is a smart-agriculture Saudi company that grows produce in an environmentally and economically sustainable way in water-scarce places, reducing carbon and water footprint in the food sector. Red Sea Farms has been recognized with multiple awards such as the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit Award, the 2020 UAE FoodTech Challenge Award and the Entrepreneurship World Cup Award 2019.