🌾 How Edible Tech Can Save the World
Food scarcity and food inflation are becoming major problems thanks to Covid. Here's how Singapore, which imports 90% of its food is dealing with this.
“Jack of all trades, master of none, but still better than the master of one."
Yes, that's the entire proverb and it couldn't be more true in the case of Singapore.
The country is a splendid example of how you can rise from rags to riches (you can read its story here).
Being one of the richest Asian countries, there is little that Singapore doesn't have.
But there is one area the country has majorly ignored, which is now coming to bite it back.
🤓 The Importance of Being Self-Sufficient
In its bid to be successful the country focused more on trade and manufacturing.
And it worked!
The country now has a per capita income similar to the US and ranks second in ease of doing business.
But to gain this success and perhaps also as a result of this success, the country rapidly became more and more urbanised, with little land left for cultivation.
Right now only 1% of land in Singapore is used for traditional farming, down from 10% in the 1970s.
The rest has become a concrete jungle.
Result? Singapore produces only 10% of the agricultural produce it needs.
But the country is rich. So, it didn't have to worry about this. It could just buy whatever food it needed.
And buy it did. Singapore sources its food from over 170 countries.
But then the unexpected happened.
Thanks to Covid and the Russia-Ukraine war, it cannot get its hands on food for love or money.
Add to this woe the fact that Malaysia, which supplies 34% of Singapore's chicken, banned exports.
So, the country is in huge trouble, with rising food shortages and food inflation.
The prices of oil, eggs and meat have all risen by 30%-45%.
Even in a rich country there are poor people with shallow pockets, and the price hike is really getting to them.
Now, this problem cannot really be solved immediately. But Singapore has realised its mistake and is working to avoid such issues in the future by becoming self-sufficient.
It is planning to meet at least 30% of its own nutritional needs by 2030.
But with no agricultural land available, how will Singapore do this?
Well, like we said it has money. And with money comes the power to buy tech that can work wonders.
That's the route that Singapore is taking.
It is investing in rooftop farms and indoor vertical farms, which can produce half a million kilos of vegetables each year, with less water, less electricity and less manpower.
Sounds great, right? But that's not enough.
Singapore no longer wants to put all its eggs in one basket.
So, it has become one of the world's first countries to openly consume lab-grown meat.
Yes, tech has progressed so much that we can now take cells from animals and create meat and eggs directly in the lab. In fact, we can actually 3D print food.
What a time to be alive, right?
And while several nations have been sceptical about this approach, Singapore, in its true innovative spirit, has jumped on this opportunity.
In fact, even a couple of street vendors in Singapore sell lab-grown meat.
And Temasek, Singapore's state-government owned investment fund, is also investing majorly in foodtech companies.
That's great, ReadOn. But why are we talking about Singapore?
👀 A Larger Problem Looming
Because even if we are in a better position than Singapore food-wise, we still need to learn from the country.
The world's population is set to grow by 2 billion by 2050.
But our agricultural and meat production is set to grow by only 2%.
There is no way we will be able to fill so many mouths using the traditional methods.
So, we need foodtech innovations like lab-grown meats and dairy components to sustain our growing population.
And there's also another upside to this.
Currently, agriculture takes up half of our habitable land, 70% of our fresh water and 30% of its workforce.
But foodtech innovations like vertical farming can cut down this usage and help us use these resources for more productive purposes.
What's more, foodtech will also help us save the world. Huh?
You see, the cattle that we rear for meat produces the third-highest amount of emissions in the world.
If we could reduce cattle rearing and fulfill our meat and milk needs through lab-grown food, we could reduce global warming by a lot.
But the problem is this lab-grown food is too costly right now. Foodtech companies need significant investment and a large user base to bring this amount down. That will be a huge challenge.
Plus, a lot of people are sceptical about lab-grown meat right now, so adoption will also be very difficult.
However, companies are working at reducing the prices and bettering the taste of these lab-grown items.
We'll have to wait and watch if they are successful in this venture.
⚡In a line: Singapore is adopting foodtech innovations to complement its meagre agricultural produce, something we all may have to do soon as resources decline and population grows.
💡Quick question: Will you be willing to try lab-grown meat and dairy?
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