15 Jun Thriving Through Innovation
I believe innovation is the most powerful force for change in the world. – Bill Gates
As the problems facing the world become more challenging, the solutions needed to overcome them require us to be more creative. In a report delivered at the G20 summit in November 2011, Bill Gates provided an example of how innovations in agriculture can overcome existing problems, while having the potential to help solve future problems as well.
There is a region in India that regularly experiences flooding and long periods of standing water. This results in their rice crops becoming stressed and unproductive. Through the research and cooperation of several international organizations, a variety of rice was bred that has been described as being able to “hold its breath” underwater. The plant makes more efficient use of oxygen while it is submerged, allowing it to better deal with the stress of flooding. Before this new strain, rice productivity in the region was extremely weather dependent, very unstable, and generally low. With the development of this new “scuba rice”, yields can more than double what they once were, giving farmers confidence that they can of grow productive crops year after year. Over 1.1 million farmers in India currently use this new rice. That number is expected to increase quickly.
Innovations like this make it possible to consistently produce crops in areas where it was previously impossible. They enable farmers to improve land that currently does not perform very well, or to begin farming on land that has been unusable. As worldwide food demand increases, finding ways to improve farming in harsher environments is critical in providing stability and food security, especially in less developed nations. As the use of submergence-tolerant rice spreads, so does the ability to overcome a major obstacle that has limited growing potential. Continuing to find new ways to expand production allows us to better prepare for the global need for food that becomes more urgent each day. Innovation is essential in helping to find these solutions, allowing us to thrive now and in the future.