Indoor farming is “the most viable solution” to end world hunger, Tungsram believes. Therefore, the Hungarian company has taken the opportunity Elon Musk is providing for anyone who comes up with a reasonable plan.
Recently, the head of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, called for urgent action against hunger by billionaires, notably Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Musk answered that if WFP can describe exactly how $6 billion (€5,200,000,000) will solve world hunger, he will sell Tesla stock and do it. Tungsram, a Hungarian technology innovator, is now proposing an answer to Elon Musk’s offer to alleviate world hunger.
In another tweet, David Beasley clarified that “$6 billion will not solve world hunger, but it will prevent geopolitical instability, mass migration and save 42 million people on the brink of starvation. An unprecedented crisis and a perfect storm due to Covid/conflict/climate crises.”
According to Tungsram President & CEO Joerg Bauer, it is indoor farming that is “the most viable solution” to world hunger. “It is an exciting disruptive technology that balances on the thin line between agriculture, industry 4.0, and digital technology to provide feasible global solutions and produce staple food for large numbers of people, as well as integrated ecosystems that can feed animals in a sustainable manner.” He thinks that “Humanity will need to embrace sources of food that go beyond the traditional approach, such as algae, bacteria, and insects, which often have a much higher conversion rate of feed intake. By smartly combining different elements such as vertical farms, animal husbandry, insects, and fish, we can get very close to a zero-waste cluster with optimal productivity – allowing strategic autonomy even in countries with adverse climatic conditions.”
Vertical farming is the practice of growing
crops in vertically stacked layers. It often incorporates controlled-environment agriculture, which aims to optimize plant growth, and soil-less farming techniques. “As it does not depend on weather and other natural factors, we don’t distinguish good and bad years. The year is always perfect,” Agritech Director of Tungsram Zoltán Sejpes says
Tungsram’s team is currently working on two indoor farming goals with its partners. They also recently opened a 150 sqm vertical farm in Budapest to facilitate and advance research in this area. According to the post, the projects focus on so-called food factory units for the African continent and zero-waste, circular food clusters. The food factories would cover basic nutritional needs (2,200 healthy calories plus 2.5 liters of drinking water per person per day) in rural areas with adverse climates, while the clusters would be located in the vicinity of large metropolitan areas to ensure decentralized food production locally.
Establishing millions of these units could provide healthy and available food independent from weather, season, every single day of the year,”
Bauer argues, adding that the same technology is vital for Elon Musk’s other big project, namely conquering Mars where growing local food is essential. He also thinks that governments and businesses should provide funding for research and innovation to scale food security, as this logic has already proved viable with batteries for electric cars, also an innovation by Elon Musk’s company.
Tungsram says that the money the United Nations has requested from the world’s billionaires would have to be spent on solving a number of challenges that will pave the way to eventually building these units. One such challenge is a breakthrough in atmospheric water capture that could provide water in climate-stricken, arid areas. Accelerated breeding that could make plants grow quicker and richer in nutrients without genetic modification is yet another innovation that would be a giant leap toward food security. Research and development in fertilizing, energy storage, remote operation, and automation is also a prerequisite to success.
I’m ready to share the details of our plan with WFP, FAO, and Mr. Musk himself.”
[FAO is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.]
Featured image via Patrick Pleul/MTI/EPA/DPA-Zentralbild