The challenge for agriculture is huge – we have to double agricultural production in the coming years if we are to feed the growing world population. But agriculture can also be one of humanity’s most environmentally damaging activities. Today, scientists and farmers are together exploring ways of improving husbandry and cropping techniques, minimizing water requirements, breeding disease-resistant plants and reducing fertilizer use. Of particular interest are developing-world farmers because they have the greatest opportunity of increasing their yields sustainably.
Kenyan social entrepreneur Su Kahumbu-Stephanou has promoted organic agriculture for 14 years and has developed a wide network of agriculture professionals that includes huge food production companies as well as small farmers. It was for these that she developed the voice-based iCow app for mobile phones that helps farmers track the oestrus of their cows, enabling them to optimize breeding periods and monitor cow nutrition leading up to calving. She also founded the Kibera Slum Organic Farm on a rubbish tip in Nairobi. It’s now producing an abundance of healthy fruit and vegetables for local people ranging from kale, cabbage and spinach, to sugarcane and passion fruit.