Hungry For Change : Innovations To Transform Food Systems

food systems
Food security threats are real, but not without a solution. This time, led by youth around Asia. 
What’s so special about youth with respect to transforming food systems ? For multiple reasons, youth is an important demographic in development. First and foremost, today’s youth generation is the largest in history, and the global population of young people is concentrated in low- and middle-income countries located in South and East Asia and Africa (The World Bank, 2006IFAD, 2019). The interests and needs of this youth generation are essential, not only because they are many, but because they will need–indeed, they are entitled to expect–decent work and livelihoods, as well as long and healthy lives; yet, to achieve this objective for so many people will be challenging in an era of ecological stress.
From a development perspective, today’s youth generation is on the front line: it will have to cope with the effects of environmental and climate change, which are likely to accelerate and intensify during their lifetimes and those of their children. The unfolding life histories of this generation and their offspring will track and strongly influence the evolution of economic, social, and political developments over the coming decades. Their lives will reflect humanity’s success or failure in moving toward more ecologically sustainable and socially equitable development.
For these reasons, the theme of International Youth Day 2021 is, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, with the aim of highlighting that the success of such a global effort will not be achieved without the meaningful participation of young people.



With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has become recognized by numerous stakeholders that simply producing a larger volume of healthier food more sustainably will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing; one of it via food systems transformation.
It is estimated that 1-1.6 billion people could be fed with the food humans unnecessarily discard each year (Source : FAO). Food loss refers to food that gets spilled or spoilt before it reaches its final product or retail stage. Food waste is food that is fit for human consumption but is not consumed because it is or left to spoil or rejected by retailers or consumers. In developed economies, 40 percent of the food is discarded at consumer level. This is often because the plants do not look good enough, in the eyes of the consumers. But in developing economies, 40 percent of the food is discarded during the harvest, storage or transport, before the produce even reaches the consumers.
Another issue is the pressure that food systems place on the environment. Food systems are responsible for 70 per cent of the water extracted from nature, cause 60 per cent of biodiversity loss, and generate up to a third of human greenhouse gas emissions. It is poignant that in producing food, we have contributed to climate change, which has come to threaten food security. 
Now, when we talk about global food systems, we are using a more holistic lens, expanding the conversation to include the entire value chain – not only production and consumption but also food processing, packaging, transport, retail and food services. By considering the entire system, we are better positioned to understand problems and to address them in a more integrated way.


With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has become recognized by numerous stakeholders that simply producing a larger volume of healthier food more sustainably will not ensure human and planetary wellbeing; one of it via food systems transformation.
While every human being depends on consuming food, their individual transition from childhood to adulthood involves—as a very stylized generalization—a significant enlargement of autonomy and independence, as well as an increased likelihood of being substantially and directly involved in the production, distribution, procurement and/or preparation of food, as well as its consumption. However, each person’s youth transition and their relationship with food systems is uniquely shaped by specific intersections with multiple factors including gender, class, wealth, health, location, intergenerational relationships, and many others.
Fortunately, in many parts of Asia, youth are taking the lead in sustainability innovations to improve the food systems and ending world hunger. New and innovative technology is being developed every day to improve the way our food is produced, distributed and consumed, transforming our food systems for the better. Here are just a few examples:


Kebun Kumara is a permaculture-inspired learning farm for all ages located in South Tangerang, Indonesia. Kebun Kumara was started in 2016 by a group of urban youths who were thirsty for knowledge more holistic to help them lead better, meaningful lives. Steadily they became familiar with permaculture and started learning to grow their own food. Thus, Kebun Kumara was born, and we have dedicated our business to supporting others to achieve their own version of balanced living by growing food and nurturing their garden.
Kebun Kumara 2
(Image : Kebun Kumara / Facebook)
The team grew their first edible urban garden in 2016 at Pulau Situ Gintung, Ciputat, southwest of capital city Jakarta by transforming dump sites and neglected areas into food-producing gardens and composting coop. They utilised this space as a learning farm to demonstrate that caring for nature and eating organic, self-grown food can be achieved within the urban setting. Kebun Kumara kicked off their educational programs in 2017 and beginning late 2018, the team started assisting others in turning their yards, balconies, and walls into food-producing spaces with their Edible Landscaping Services.
Kebun Kumara
(Image : Kebun Kumara / Facebook)


Based in Malaysia, Save Environment Save Ourselves (SESO) is a non-profit enterprise that combats food waste and food poverty.  SESO ‘s main goal is to fight against food waste and nourishing communities using surplus food.  
SESO works together with local businesses on different projects and campaigns so as to create awareness and offer food at special prices in order to encourage reduction of food waste as well as to benefit the community by helping them to save money and increase sustainability. Simultaneously, their volunteers also regularly collect surplus at local supermarkets, grocery stores and restaurants and turn them into a nutritious meal to those in need.
SESO Malaysia - reducing food waste & food poverty
The team are in constant search for volunteers to collect, cook, and serve the  community! If you are looking for a fun way to make a difference in the community, you can drop them a message here 


Started out in November 2017, Yayasan Daur Pangan Nusantara or FoodCycle Indonesia believes that hunger is  entirely solvable. FoodCycle Indonesia is a non-profit organisation with a passion for serving the under-privileged communities by channeling through and distributing untouched surplus food, re-processing imperfectly perfect produces and re-cycling food waste  from various sources such as wedding parties, bakeries, corporate lunch, supermarkets, and FMCGs. 
As of today, FoodCycle Indonesia has distributed:
● More Than 115 tons of donated food from wedding, events, bakeries, restaurants,
offices and FMCGs
● More than 140 tons / 17800 pack SEMBAKO for COVID-19 Food Relief Program
FoodCycle Indonesia is one of the 2 NGOs from Indonesia that is selected to be part of
Global Foodbanking (GFN) Network Asia Incubator Program.
FoodCycle Hub
(Image : FoodCycle Indonesia)
In the time of current pandemic, FoodCycle puts together an Emergency Food Relief and self-isolation packages for the under-privileged individuals and positive for Covid-19 so that they can serve their quarantine notice and isolation period without having to worry about their basic needs. 
FoodCycle Indonesia Campaign
(Image : FoodCycle Indonesia / Facebook)


Savour! is a one-stop B2B e-procurement and sponsorship web app platform offering expiring, blemished, surplus, and regular food, corporate gifts, supplies, and rental services for operations, programs and events of companies and non-profit organisations. Savour! is a local youth-led tech social enterprise with the aim to empower charities, SMEs and social enterprises with savings via digitalisation while tackling food wastage and food insecurity through their e-commerce marketplace. 
Savour App X HDL
image : Savour App


Surplus is an online marketplace in Indonesia that can enable customers to buy meals from restaurants, hotels, farms, bakeries, cafes, supermarkets, etc., who have surplus food/haven’t sold at end of the day with 50% off (closing-hour discounts/clearance sale).

For the user, the app is an easy way to eat great food while saving money and the environment. For food retailers, It’s an opportunity to reach new customers, earn extra income, reduce disposal costs, while making the planet greener. It’s a win-win solution!

Their vision is to create an environment without food waste in Indonesia in order to support the Sustainable Development Goal no.2 Zero Hunger; no.12 Responsible consumption & production & no.13 Climate Action.

Surplus App
(image : Surplus)


Currently available via web platform, Just Dabao allows consumers to buy foods and beverages as ‘shiok bag‘ from restaurants and cafes in Singapore for up to 70% off. Half the fun is opening the bag to find out what goodies your local store has for you. Rest assured that you will equipped with enough information about your diet preference, the google rating and the proximity of the eatery to help you inform your decision during the order stage. The mission of its founders is summed up as:  Save food, save money & help planet. ‘Be Shiok‘ (translation : very enjoyable or pleasing).  
Just Dabao Screenshot


Created in 2014, Green Karma is the pioneer providing decentralised wet waste management solution in North India for communities.Green Karma out-reach programs focussed on segregation and composting of wet waste and how each individual could play a responsible role in creating a sustainable environment in their community. 
Green Karma India
(Image : Green Karma /Facebook)

The article was initially published on 12th August 2021. 

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