Breadcrumbs

Feeding a hungry planet

15 June 2017

Beth Hampton for web
Beth Hampton, thinking hard about global food issues.

University of Waikato science student Beth Hampton has strong opinions about global food security, and her ideas for solving issues around feeding the world’s population have earned her a trip to Belgium.

Beth, who’s wrapping up her Bachelor of Science majoring in environmental science and agribusiness at Waikato, is one of two New Zealanders selected to go to Brussels in October to join 98 other youth delegates from 49 countries for the Belgian Youth Ag-summit “Feeding a hungry planet”. Over five days the students will share their diverse experiences and work together to generate innovative, sustainable and actionable solutions to global food security challenges.

The delegates, all aged between 18 and 25, will work on group projects, participate in industry tours and hear from expert guest speakers. Their mission is to come up with concrete new ideas that can drive agricultural progress across the globe and be put into practice back home.

To be selected for Brussels, Beth (21) had to write a 1500-word essay presenting her ideas about feeding a hungry planet referencing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “I focussed on food waste, as on an energy basis the FAO estimates that the amount of food wasted each year largely exceeds the requirements of the 795 million people who are currently food insecure,” Beth says.

However, how to address it depends on your starting point, she says. "The amount of food wasted in developing and industrialised nations is similar, however the source or cause of it is different. Forty percent of food waste in developing countries occurs at post-harvest and processing – so largely due to inadequate infrastructure – whereas 40% of food waste in in industrialised countries is at the consumer and retail level. So in developed countries like ours, a lot of the time it comes down to us preparing too much and throwing out essentially good food that we don’t eat, and will comparatively be more about changing social norms and consumer behaviour.”

Start learning at school

Beth also thinks agriculture and agribusiness need to be better integrated into New Zealand’s school system. “The primary industries have a growing need for qualified and innovative people. It’s not just about what happens on the farm; it’s a system that extends far and wide beyond it, and also includes biosecurity, food science, earth science, marketing, and technology.”

Beth comes from Matamata, but not off a farm. “I came to university to study environmental sciences, and someone suggested I do a sustainable agriculture paper as I might find it complementary. University really opened my eyes to the scope of agriculture, and all of the opportunities in the primary industries. It made me think critically about how we can do things better, and also helped me to understand all of the apsects of sustainabaility. You often need to dig deep and laterally to find feasible solutions to important issues, and I believe the best way to bring about change is to be involved.”

Beth wraps up her BSc this month and will head to Wellington to work at the Environmental Protection Agency as a science research assistant.

The Brussels summit is hosted by Bayer, together with partners Groene Kring (GK) and Fédération des Jeunes Agriculteurs (FJA).

The other New Zealander going to Brussels is Jemima Snook (24) from Lincoln University.

Related stories

Catherine Kirby for web

Nature in the city

University of Waikato and EIT, working together to improve ecological restoration, particularly in urban areas.

Hard work bears fruit for Waikato graduate

Lauren Werrey works as a Bear Manager at Animals Asia's Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre, looking…

Pacific high achiever

New Zealand-born Samoan Nicc Moeono will receive a Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako (TAPA) award…

Overseas exchange student lands dream job

Conor Gyde has won a coveted position on Fonterra’s Graduate Technical Programme and credits his…

SIMCRO Dr James Carson

Three winners at the KuDos Awards

An expert in heat transfer, a clever carbon dater and an excellent science teacher were…

Saving kōkako in Pureora Forest

Last weekend, the Waikato Science Club kicked off Conservation Week with a volunteering trip at…

Our city as a living laboratory

Research Officer Dr Kiri Wallace will talk about effective methods for kick-starting native tree regeneration…

Science and 1080

In her latest blog post, Dr Alison Campbell urges scientists and conservation workers to continue…

The seeds of inspiration

University of Waikato researchers have been awarded funding to investigate new ways of reducing earthquake…

Erin the Engineer rocking the world of robotics

Alumna Erin Sims is taking on a traditionally male dominated industry.

Major Endeavours for researchers

University of Waikato academics have been awarded funding for a broad range of major research…

Geologist, mum, volunteer, author – four seasons of career

Since graduating with a Bachelor of Science followed by a Master of Science in the…