When was the last time you thought about the food you were eating? If you were someone who was entered in the Agricultural Innovation Prize, you think about it every day. The A.I.G. was put together by 40 Chances, the Howard G. Buffet Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. With $240,000 in prizes, and the top team winning $100,000, the teams of students harvested their best ideas for the competition. With a prize that large, the teams brought their best.
Coolify took home the first place honors. The team was put together by Rajat Sethi, Santiago Arias Duval, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anath Raj Gudipati, from Harvard. Together they have come up with an idea to create cheaper cooling units in Asia, so they can better reduce the amount of waste lost in food production. The new cooling units will cost $8,500, as opposed to the standard $1.5 million price tag. A 2011 SIK study found that 40% of food loss occurred at the processing and postharvest stages in Asia, Team Coolify is hoping to lower that number.
Five other teams took home prizes worth $25,000.
MiddleBury Foods, for trying to deliver healthy food options at fast food prices in Vermont;
Ho’oulu Pacific, for soilless farm technologies and distributing fish and vegetables to at risk Pacific Island communities;
Pasture Bird LLC, who develop new poultry practices to reduce disease and reliance on antibiotics, as well as enriching the land for poultry farmers;
MIGHTY MEALworm, who are looking to improve food sustainability in Sub-Saharan Africa with edible mealworm protein powder, for areas most affected by drought;
Love Grain, which helps implement new practices and connections in Ethiopia, for the production of Teff.
There are about 7 billion people living on the planet. It is estimated that two thirds of the population has enough food to eat. The other third, over 2 billion people, go hungry every day. Thanks to organizations, like the A.I.P., there are incentives to combat the problem. Congratulations to Coolify, and all the winners, as well as the challenge builders for taking a big step in tackling a bigger problem.