Tag Archives: technology

The tragedy of waste

The following article is from a slightly unusual source – the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the UK. A slightly technical view, but well worth the read, specially if you are interested in FoodTech.

Today, we produce about four billion metric tonnes of food per annum. Yet due to poor practices in harvesting, storage and transportation, as well as market and consumer wastage, it is estimated that 30–50% (or 1.2–2 billion tonnes) of all food produced never reaches a human stomach. Furthermore, this figure does not reflect the fact that large amounts of land, energy, fertilisers and water have also been lost in the production of foodstuffs which simply end up as waste. This level of wastage is a tragedy that cannot continue if we are to succeed in the challenge of sustainably meeting our future food demands.

Original source: http://www.imeche.org/knowledge/themes/environment/global-food
Global Food Report (PDF): http://www.imeche.org/docs/default-source/reports/Global_Food_Report.pdf

Big Ag and Agribotics

I came across an invite for a webinar (see link below) organised by the Robotics Business Review in my social media stream. Although I share an interest in electronics and robotics, I find myself thoroughly disagreeing with the sentiment of this article (event invite).

agricultural robotics by striatic, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  striatic 

‘Barely 2 percent of the U.S. population is on the farm; growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley are hard-pressed to find field workers to hire, and in places like Japan the average age of farmers is 70 years old. The future outlook for more people to fill the gap by taking up farming is slim to none.’
This comment to me seems from a perspective of a robotics person with no knowledge of small scale farming and related food trends. There is a slowly growing “back to the land” movement and I personally know of many more people toying with the idea and some already doing it.

Technology (including robotics) has a potential of being an excellent help, but I do not share the technocratic “Big-Ag” vision. Countless examples have exposed the myth of “efficiency” in Big Ag. There is undoubtedly ‘efficiency’ when viewed the most narrow vision in labor input / production cost, but in a more holistic view there are plenty of Big Ag costs (as well as Small Ag benefits) not counted.

Event Registration: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1034586

I am hoping there will be a recording of this webinar as due to timezones I am not going to attend myself. It appears previous webcasts are available (thank you RBR!).

Open Tech Forever

Open Tech Forever – Indiegogo Video from OpenTech Forever on Vimeo.

This is a great example of the use of “Open Source” concepts related to agriculture, resiliency and self-sufficiency. OTF is dedicated to developing new and improved, open source versions of modern and cutting-edge technologies. In the open source spirit, they are creating free, online, high quality educational resources demonstrating how to understand, redesign, and replicate our products.

It covers not only the skills, designs and the train of thought behind the development process but also the facilities, tools, and materials that it takes to really make a variety of technologies but also to develop and document open hardware, manufacture products for sale, and host public workshops to provide a hands-on learning experience for improved skill development and retention.

Links