An Israeli farmer has a plan to help stop hunger worldwide.
Nimrod Ben-Yehuda grew up working the fields of a kibbutz. Even then, the amount of food wasted concerned him.
“Before being sold, all produce is sorted. Thirty percent gets thrown away, and what’s left hardly lasts a day before being replaced,” Ben-Yehuda said.
“I was amazed at the amount of fruit and vegetables thrown away in the packing stations. I saw piles of rotting peppers and tomatoes — meanwhile children are going hungry. It’s crazy!”
He also noticed that each piece of produce seemed to have a very short amount of time between when it was picked and when it becomes waste.
“Take a single eggplant, for example. We cut it from its lifeline when we pick it,” Ben-Yehuda explained. “It’s all alone, and has to survive. Inside, its body systems weaken; it uses up all its sugars and goes into stress, with telltale signs. The fruit rots because it’s weak inside.”
Convinced he could find a solution, Ben-Yehuda launched Pimi Agro CleanTech 15 years ago with the idea that an environmentally-friendly solution to retard rotting produce could be found.
Now, thanks to his team’s tireless efforts, he is close to bringing an environmentally-friendly way to preserve produce for up to 10 weeks to market.
While his rotting ‘cure’ has attracted interest of mega-buyers like Walmart, Ben-Yehuda said that his real goal is to work with the United Nations and the World Bank to help starving kids in the least-developed nations of the world.
“Developing nations have the most to gain — I visited India and saw mango plantations where the depreciation due to loss can reach 70%,” the Israeli innovator explained. “This issue has global implications. If only 30% of produce reaches the marketplace, this affects both prices and availability, and poor people simply cannot buy them.”
He added that as food resources are strained by the world’s growing population, the need to preserve available food resources will grow.
“There will be over nine billion people on the planet by 2050,” Ben-Yehuda stressed. “How are they to be fed if water and land resources continue to disappear? If we save the lost food there will be no more hunger in the world.”