Extreme poverty affects more than 700 million people across the world and is disproportionately concentrated in rural areas, where most people rely on agricultural production for sustenance and incomes. Increasing crop yields can allow rural farmers to lift themselves out of poverty, in turn improving education and positive health outcomes for their families. While input efficiency has played a role in increased agricultural production over the past five decades, many of these gains have not benefited rural farmers and have resulted in damage to the environment, including land degradation, deforestation, over-extraction of groundwater, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
During harvest and post-harvest handling, alarmingly high levels of food loss occur among many low-income countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, due to poor infrastructure, lack of knowledge, and low levels of technology. Globally, a third of the food produced is lost or wasted due to inefficiencies in harvesting, storage, packing, transport, and infrastructure, amounting to about 1.3 billion tons of food at an estimated cost of USD $1 trillion globally.
More efficient use of land and other inputs through technological innovation is critical to increasing productivity, protecting natural resources, and reducing waste. Supporting farmers in adopting sustainable agricultural methods that also increase their food yields will contribute to rising incomes and reducing agriculture’s impact on the environment. In addition, a mix of higher agricultural production and coordination among the value chain will result in more food brought to the market, which is essential to feed the projected 9.7 billion people on earth in 2050.
The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity seeks new and affordable methods that increase small-holder agricultural productivity without further contributing to environmental degradation. To do so, the initiative welcomes solutions using advanced manufacturing technologies and products from innovators and makers around the world that:
- Allow for the production of higher yields with less land, water, and labor inputs
- Improve coordination within the value chain of rural farmers, which supports sustainable food production, reduces post-harvest losses, and facilitates market access in favor of farmers
- Increase access to such technologies for vulnerable populations, especially women
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