Iceland president speaks on combating world hunger

Olafur_Ragnar_Grimsson12Iceland President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has said the best way to combat world hunger is to preserve what we already catch, raise and grow, rather than increasing production.

Speaking at the World Food Prize summit in Des Moines, Grímsson said the oldest known way to preserve food is to dry it indoors. However, he noted that in countries with hotter climates in the developing world, much of the food produced is ruined in just a few days because they have no place to store it.

He pointed out that he was not referring to wasted food, but to spoilt food due to insufficient storage methods, giving the example of India, where he said 25 per cent of food produced is spoilt in less than a week.

The president went on to say that in his opinion the biggest challenge is food security, not how to produce more food. However, he acknowledged that preserving food so it is closer 100 per cent utilisation is an extremely tough challenge.

In developing countries, where it’s not always possible or practical to freeze food because of a lack of adequate electricity, he is advocating the drying of food. He explained that in Iceland they now dry fish indoors using geothermal heat. He added that this takes just five days, compared to months if it is done outdoors, and it has developed into a lucrative export market.

Grímsson said food vendors in Nigeria are now selling dried fish imported from Iceland. He has already helped plan projects that will test food drying methods around the world during the next two years, and said they now need to prove to world leaders that this is possible as many think the solution is too simple to actually work.