In 1974 the first World Food Conference was held by the United Nations to set up a plan of action to end world hunger. In that conferences, then U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger stated that within 10 years no child would go to bed hungry. To say Mr. Kissinger was off on his prediction would be an understatement. In 1974 it was estimated, by the F.A.O., that 434 million people were going hungry in the world. Since then that number has risen to a staggering 925 million. In between this time there have been numerous conferences, committees, summits, rallies and protest on putting an end to world hunger but to date everyone of them has been in vain. It would seem that ending this crisis is an impossible feat and with the world population expected to rise from 6 to 8 billion by 2050 the crisis of hunger can only grow worse, but it doesn’t have to. With the methods of soilless cultivation such as Hydroponics and Aeroponics feeding the hungry should be a piece of cake (no pun intended).
Hydroponics is a method of farming in which soil is not used as a medium for crops to grow. Rather, crops are grown with its roots in a mineral nutrient solution or an inert medium such as coir, sand, wood fiber, etc. Contrary to belief, soil is not a necessity for plant growth. So long as the necessary mineral nutrients are introduced into the plants water supply soil is not required.
Since the mid 90’s NASA has been researching hydroponic farming and other methods of soilless cultivation as a means by which to grow food in space. NASA has primarily focused on a method of soilless cultivation known as Aeroponics. Aeroponics is a method of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium. The plants are suspeneded in a closed or semi-closed environment in which the dangling roosts and lower stem are sprayed with nutrient-rich water solution by means of misters or foggers.
What makes Aeroponics more attractive over hydroponics is that Aeroponics does not require as much water and energy to grow its plants. Plants which are cultivated in this fashion grow faster and are more mineral and nutrient rich. Also with these plants growing in a controlled environment the possibility for pests and disease forming are drastically reduced. In the case of soil or any other aggregate media, disease can spread quickly throughout the media infecting all plants within it. Whereas in the case of plants grown by the use of aeroponics, the infected plant can simply be removed and discarded without infecting the other surrounding plants. NASA has developed may types of aeroponics systems for potential use in there future mission to Mars.
Whats unfortunate is that theses methods of farming are not new. Aeroponicas dates back to the mid 80’s and hydroponics dates as far back as to the mid 1800’s. Fortunately there are many scientist, out side of those in NASA, such as Dickson Despommier, who are vigorously pushing for a complete transition of growing plants and crops through the uses of soilless cultivation by means of vertical farms (look inside a vertical farm).
With the use of Hydro and Aeroponics we can grow an abundance of food literally any where from Antarctica to the Sahara Desert and even Mars. To date there is no logical excuse for anyone on earth to go hungry and for it to continue is not only criminal but socially irresponsible. It is time to end hunger now!!
To further explain this here is a video by microbiologist, ecologist and Professor of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University Dickson Despommier. Watch It! 🙂