Engineering solutions need in third world
The recent events in Eygpt and throughout the Middle East have highlighted a growing global problem. Food prices for basic commodities are rising worldwide. Food Price Watch stated that October through February, prices for basic commodites rose 15%. Whatever the reason for such dramatic price increases, whether it be government policies, weather, ethanol production, land use pressures etc. one thing is clear. The world is going to need increased and more effective food production.
Certainly first world countries bear some of the burden of insuring exports. However over 500 milliong people in emerging economies still rely on small plot farming to make a living and feed their families. Today as in ancient times, access to water is often the difference between steady harvests and crop failure mixed with debt.
Some US companies are taking innovative looks at solutions. Driptech for instance has created an irrigation system that provides suitable irrigation for small plot (less than 5 acres) farmers. According to their website this has led to crop increases of 20-50% in many instances. It has managed to produce this product and provide it at costs 50% lower than traditional irrigation systems.
In enabling emerging countries to feed themselves and providing extra income for the base of those countries US firms can have an outsized impact. Perhaps US environmental and engineering firms should look to the third world problems as these emerging markets will increasingly be important to their bottom lines.