Innovations that help increase the world’s food supply

Man smiling while holding fishing trap (Joaquim Cheupe/USAID)
A lab technician shows the "escape gaps" on new fish traps that are helping fishers in Kenya target mature fish. (Joaquim Cheupe/USAID)

Declining fish populations and costly rental equipment make it hard for Kenyan fisher Hamisi to provide for his three children.

So Hamisi and other fishers in Kenya’s coastal communities of Uyombo and Mayungu worked with Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), to design sustainable fishing traps that save on costly rental equipment and protect fish species.

“The modified traps target larger fish sizes that fetch higher prices,” Hamisi told Feed the Future (PDF, 335KB), speaking under a pseudonym. By targeting only mature fish, the traps allow younger fish to escape, grow and reproduce, protecting species for future generations.

The traps designed through the Samaki Salama program, or fish security in Kiswahili, are one example of how U.S.-supported technologies are helping small farmers and fishers meet their economic and nutritional needs.


Diptych of solar refrigerator (left) and shelves and bins of vegetables (right) (Courtesy of Sangeeta Chopra)
With its solar and evaporative technology, the Farm SunFridge allows farmers to keep food cold without electricity. (Courtesy of Sangeeta Chopra)

In India, USAID supported the research and development, in partnership with Michigan State University, of the Farm SunFridge, which uses solar panels and evaporative cooling to refrigerate crops without an electrical connection or battery. Storing food longer helps farmers increase sales, and SunFridge’s design allows farmers to build it themselves, lowering installation costs.

“Reducing the temperature from 30 to zero Celsius can increase the storage life of a product by tenfold or more,” says Sangeeta Chopra, with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in New Delhi and the leader of the SunFridge project. Researchers in Kenya and Ethiopia are considering SunFridge for use in Africa.

Also in India, an inventor is expanding access to technology that helps farmers in Africa and Asia better manage water through flooding and drought. Biplab Ketan Paul gained inspiration for his stormwater irrigation system during a 2004 visit to a Miami drinking-water facility through the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.


2 women squatting while looking at crops (Rabik Upadhayay/USAID)
Through Feed the Future, U.S. and private sector partners help farmers in Nepal, including Rupa Chaudhary (right), increase revenues from rice, maize, lentils and other crops. (Rabik Upadhayay/USAID)

U.S.-supported efforts to increase farmers’ yields in Nepal include the GeoKrishi app, which provides farmers with weather forecasts, food prices and other agricultural information. For Bhupendra Khatri, a farmer in Dang (PDF, 2.06MB), GeoKrishi helps determine how much fertilizer his maize crop requires so he doesn’t overspend. The app helps other farmers predict optimal planting windows and treat sick livestock.

USAID’s Center for Digital Development funded an effort that uses GeoKrishi to bridge the gender digital divide in Nepal. Working in partnership with DAI, Heifer International and Pathway Technologies, USAID established community-based hubs to connect women farmers with agricultural information through GeoKrishi.


Man holding handful of grain next to large pile of grain (Vlad Sobel/USAID)
USAID is supporting Ukrainian farmers such as Vasyl Markovych by increasing access to seeds, crop protection and other agricultural technologies. (Vlad Sobel/USAID)

On June 5, USAID, in partnership with Corteva Agriscience, announced plans to provide farmers in Ukraine with sunflower and corn seeds that can grow in harsh conditions and other crop protection technologies.

The assistance builds on USAID’s $100 million Agriculture Resilience Initiative (AGRI) – Ukraine program, which has provided more than 13,700 Ukrainian farmers with seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural tools as Ukraine’s farmland and crop storage facilities have suffered significant damage from Russia’s brutal war.

“AGRI-Ukraine supports Ukraine’s embattled economy and helps alleviate the global food security crisis worsened by Russia’s war on Ukraine by increasing Ukraine’s capacity to produce, store, and export grain to the world,” USAID said.