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How Can Bitcoin Help Emancipate Billions And Help Food Security

Innovation / -

Bitcoin sicurezza alimentare articolo

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing

Through the fundamental invention of the Blockchain, we now have a tool that, through the use of planet-wide communications networks and smartphones that are available to anybody, can put a Western city-dweller and an Indonesian fisherman on equal footing, to participate in global commerce, maximizing their mutual advantage, and heightening incentives to achieve local and global food security.
 
The fundamental invention of the blockchain
Until little more than five years ago it was not at all sure that a given mathematical problem had a solution: how could you deliver a consistent and reliable piece of information across a network whose nodes are unreliable? Called the Bizantine Generals Problem — based on the supposed presence of traitors at a hypothetical battle whose plans must be communicated to all the attackers — it was a real surprise when a clever solution was put together by a pseudonymous developer who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. The solution was based on computers participating in a network and solving hard cryptographic problems that were easy to verify, and creating a public decentralized database, that could be consulted by anybody. 
 
The first application of this innovation is Bitcoin, the digital currency that is gaining popularity in various types of payment and financial applications. However there are many other classes of problems that can now be implemented differently than before. The consequence of the Blockchain is that a group of participants can reach a consensus and an agreement without delegating this to a central authority, but achieving it as a result of the working of the network itself. Identity, property, legal and notary functions, financial activities like lending, insurance, international remittance and more are now possible in a very novel manner, that promises to be more flexible and efficient, much less expensive than previously. Most importantly, all these services are going to be accessible to anybody who has a smartphone connected to the Internet, without any license or authorization.
 
Inclusivity and emancipation of billions
There are billions of people in the planet who still live in agricultural societies, and not only do not have access to modern financial services, but they have also no possibility of ever accessing them, due to the increasingly hard to satisfy regulatory environment in which they are provided.
The traditional services of the state of providing identity, property, legal and other forms of organization are very often absent, or poorly organized, and when present, inefficient, corrupted, and skewed to advantage the powerful at the expense of the poor and exploitable.Implementing the financial and state services on the Blockchain promises to make them affordable, accessible, streamlined, transparent and more capable of resisting corruption and inefficiencies.
 
Distributed blockchain enabled food production and trade
In many societies the local farmers know very well what would be needed to make their lives easier, their products more marketable, and the outlook of their families and children brighter. Giving access through Internet connected smartphones to the development of financial and legal tools and support enables those who were previously excluded to participate on equal footing, and to put their own local understanding and wisdom to their advantage, emancipating and empowering them to make the best possible decisions for themselves.
 
The next generation platforms of micro-loans, lending, crowdfunding and equity investing will extend to orders of magnitude more people than it is possible to do now. The possibility of establishing trust networks whose workings can be verified and followed by anybody is going to extend circles of empathy and participation to include categories that previously were excluded and ignored.
 
An easier and more direct path to communication will enable a smoother development of commerce, both locally and globally, where a better information symmetry will empower those who would be previously exploited. Food will follow information and knowledge, security will follow trust, prosperity and wealth will follow connectedness complementing self reliance.
 

Giampaolo Cantini. Feeding Knowledge: the future lies in a Mediterranean laboratory

Innovation / -

Giampaolo Cantini

During the course of the ceremony to announce the results of the Call for Best Practices for Sustainable Development, an initiative launched by Expo Milano 2015 to bring together and give visibility to the projects related to food security in the Mediterranean, we interviewed Giampaolo Cantini, the Director General for Development Cooperation at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, to gain a better understanding of the Feeding Knowledge program and the future of the related Best Practices.

Could you explain briefly the key features of the Feeding Knowledge program?
Sponsored by Expo 2015 and implemented by CIHEAM-IAMB in Bari and the Polytechnic University of Milan, the Feeding Knowledge program is the largest collaborative network in the Mediterranean area on issues related to food security and sustainable development, involving institutions, organizations and research centers. In its three years of operation, Feeding Knowledge has laid the foundation for a shared and widespread system on the knowledge about food security, helping to better understand needs, and promoting innovation and the search for solutions that can be applied in the various member countries. Lastly, via the international Call for Best Practices for Sustainable Development, the program has collected more than 700 successful case histories that can be studied and could provide inspiration for new initiatives.
 
How is the Italian Cooperation for Development improving food systems and agricultural production in the participating countries?
Considering the wide range of best practices that we have collected and presented via the Feeding Knowledge Call, it’s clear that improving food and agricultural production is key to Italian Cooperation. Our operations in the countries taking part in Expo focus on improving and managing production chains – durum wheat in Ethiopia and coffee in Latin America, for example. We address aspects such as marketing and sustainability, as well as the rediscovery and use of traditional production methods specific to certain areas – such as quinoa in the Andean countries. Other initiatives promote the sustainable use of resources such as soil and water, while other projects support the development of a cooperative model that combines support to the small producer while providing more efficient systems for granting access to credit and management.
 
Can you provide three figures to indicate the need to improve access to food?
The first is that 805 million people worldwide suffer from chronic malnutrition. It's a figure that reminds the international community of the need to persevere in its efforts to eliminate hunger. Some encouragement can come from my second figure:100 million people have managed to escape this situation over the last decade. This means that, in addition to the knowledge, tools and, potentially, the resources, the conditions are in place to achieve "Zero Hunger". People need to understand the importance of this challenge and to support the political commitment to overcome it. My third figure concerns food loss and wastage. One-third of the food produced each year is lost post-harvest due to the lack of appropriate technologies, infrastructure or access to markets; more food is then wasted during distribution and consumption. All that, while demand for food in the world continues to grow. Therefore, we need action on two levels. First, we need to develop knowledge on supply chain management, we need to enhance infrastructure and adopt appropriate policies. The second involves building awareness among people – especially the younger generations  – of our individual responsibility as a consumer and as part of a global system, and the opportunity that we have, via our choices, to influence the development and the future of the Planet. These are the main messages that, by means of the Expo, can reach millions of people. It is also on these issues that the Italian Cooperation will work as part of the exhibition.
 
What is the future of Feeding Knowledge, post-Expo Milano 2015?
I believe it lies in consolidating and further developing the wealth of experience, partnerships and relationships built up over the years, as well as establishing a virtual focal point on knowledge of food security and sustainable development in the Mediterranean area. This "Mediterranean laboratory", would continue to encourage the sharing of knowledge, research and innovation, as well as the adoption of the most effective solutions to common problems.
 

The challenge of climate change and the importance of family farming

Economy / -

Family Farming
© Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis

Food security, one of the main goals of the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) “2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), is considered essential for meeting the increasingly frequent challenges faced by the agricultural sector with continuing climate change.

According to a study by the World Bank, for every degree Celsius that the world’s temperature increases, there will be a decrease of 5% in grain yield.

Food security is one of the main objectives and focal points of the FAO Year of Family Farming. It is considered essential for meeting the increasingly frequent challenges to the agricultural sector with continuing climate change. On the one hand, there is a review of the relationship between global warming and agriculture by the agricultural sector and on the other, it is becoming a focal point of discussions at the highest levels.
 
Everything we do needs to account for climate change
"Everything we do - said the Director-General of FAO, Jose Graziano da Silva, at the Seventh Forum on Agriculture, held in April this year in Morocco - needs to account for climate change and the time is now. We cannot afford to wait."  One of the key conclusions of the forum is that countries need to move towards more sustainable food systems and agriculture and adapt to the effects of climate change that have "reintroduced an element of uncertainty" into the agricultural sector, continued da Silva. "Climate change has the potential to reconfigure the scenario of global food production."
 
The poor are particularly vulnerable, "Not only do they have fewer means to react, but they also tend to live in already marginal production areas," where the impacts of climate change are felt more intensely. "By providing adequate support to the Family Farming - noted the Director-General of FAO - we can fight food insecurity by acting on a group that is itself vulnerable and increasing the supply of food where it is needed most."

"Climate change is a challenge faced both by large and modernized farms and smaller ones run by families,” noted da Silva.
 
 
 

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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