Industries in Depth

6 projects helping to tackle food insecurity

View of plant sprouts.

The World Bank aims to address food insecurity in 90 nations through a $45 billion funding initiative. Image: Unsplash/Markus Spike

Victoria Masterson
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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Africa

  • Food prices are still rising around the world and contributing to food insecurity, the World Bank says.
  • Solutions to combat food insecurity include systems that improve soil health and can turn deserts into farmland.
  • Food systems need fundamental reform to provide all humanity with affordable, nutritious and healthy food, the World Economic Forum says.

Food prices are continuing to rise around the world.

This is worsening “food insecurity”, which is when people can’t access or afford enough safe and nutritious food.

The World Bank’s latest Food Security Update says that food price inflation is more than 5% in around three-fifths of low-income and upper-middle-income countries and in four-fifths of lower-middle-income countries.

Food price inflation is everywhere

Many countries are experiencing even higher double-digit food price inflation. Food prices are also rising fast in more than 64% of high-income countries.

Rising food prices most affect Africa, North America, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia, the World Bank says.

Graphs illustrating the agricultural and cereal price trends.
Food prices are rising around the world. Image: World Bank

Global food security effort

The World Bank is working to tackle food insecurity in 90 countries with $45 billion of funding expected to benefit 335 million people. Its initiatives include the $766 million West Africa Food Systems Resilience Program.

Food security is also a priority for entrepreneurs around the world. Achieving food security in arid climates was one of the innovation challenges set this year by Uplink, the World Economic Forum’s crowdsourcing platform for solutions to global issues.

The 10 winning companies include Desert Control, a Norwegian firm that has developed a special clay which increases soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients. This can turn deserts into farmland, and can help fight soil degradation and water scarcity.

Growing plants in the desert

Another food security winner in the Uplink challenge is Terraxy, based in Saudi Arabia, which has developed environmentally friendly solutions for growing plants in deserts.

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These include a biodegradable mulch that reduces water loss from topsoil by up to 80%, and a soil conditioner that improves the nutrients in soil.

Food grown without soil

Also winning Uplink’s food security challenge was Hydroponics Africa, a company based in Kenya that helps farmers grow food crops and animal fodder affordably, with no soil or energy and up to 80% less water.

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Hydroponics is a way of growing plants without soil that is also fast, sustainable and uses less space.

Emergency funding for food

Food insecurity is a key focus of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which supports economic growth and financial stability across its 190 member countries.

To help tackle the global food crisis, the IMF has increased its emergency funding to the countries most affected.

This includes new funding for seven countries facing acute food insecurity: Bangladesh, Benin, Cabo Verde, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Zambia.

Graph illustrating the real food price indices.
Food prices have fallen since 2022 but are still high. Image: IMF

The Forum’s Food Systems Initiative

A food insecurity emergency is facing around 45 million people in 43 countries, the World Economic Forum says on its Food and Water communities page.

Conflicts, climate shocks, low agricultural productivity and inefficient food supply chains are some of the factors driving this and pushing up the cost of nutritious foods.

“We need to fundamentally transform our food systems to provide all humanity with affordable, nutritious and healthy food within the limits of nature by 2030,” the Forum says.

The Forum’s Food Systems Initiative aims to change the future of food by galvanizing action at scale across regions and countries to improve food systems. Areas of focus include regenerative agriculture – a way of farming that focuses on soil health – and making food supply chains stronger.

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Industries in DepthFood and WaterGeographies in Depth
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