Data gathered by humanitarian organization, World Food Programme, indicates that every year over 847 million people worldwide, suffer from malnutrition and about 3.1 million children under the age of five, die from starvation. While eradicating world hunger is a top priority for both scientists and philanthropists, given the increasing global population and dwindling natural resources, it is not easy. But thanks to new innovations like the recently introduced 'LivingBox', there may be some hope.
The brainchild of Israeli entrepreneurs and scientists, Nitzan Solan and Moti Cohen, LivingBox is an environmentally friendly urban-ecosystem made from modular boxes that connect to form a hydroponics mini-farm. This means that the vegetables are grown in nutrient-infused water, instead of soil.
While professional farmers have been doing that for years, LivingBox is the first system built to extract nutrients from common household refuse: fish waste, leftover food, or even animal dung. Better yet, it can run without electricity and requires no farming skills to maintain. This means that urban shanty dwellers who may otherwise have no access to healthy produce, can use LivingBox to grow fresh vegetables.
The setup is easy - All aspiring farmers have to do, is unpack the modular boxes, fill them with fresh water and add the required seeds. As soon as they they add one or all three types of organic waste, the system will self-generate the nitrogen needed for the plants to take root.
Those that use 'fish-waste', have a dual advantage - they can cultivate both fish and vegetables at the same time! The animals provide the waste needed for the plants to thrive, while the plants naturally filter the water and help maintain a clean home for the fish! Those using food scraps or waste as fertilizer, have to place the decomposing matter into a separate attachment that automatically transports the 'bio-gas' released to the plant bed, to help nourish the vegetables.
Once the vegetables are ready to pick, the farmer simply harvests the crop and begins the cycle all over again, with fresh water, seeds, organic waste and even fish - if the ones in the LivingBox have grown big enough to consume. While the 15-square foot box yields enough vegetables to feed a family of four, LivingBox can be easily extended with additional modules to create larger farms.
The one thing that could hinder LivingBox from becoming a viable solution for third-world countries is the cost, which has yet to be determined. However, the entrepreneurs who plan to test the system with several non-profit organizations later this year, have promised to keep it affordable, so that their target customer base - poor urban dwellers in developing countries can also have access to something that many of us take for granted - nutritious food!