By Alex Eaton
If you are unsure where to start on Earth Day, try food. The impact of what you eat, where you buy it and who grew it matters more than you may realize. Agriculture accounts for about a quarter of human global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. 80% of the land that is managed by humans if for growing or raising food, therefore improving our food system is one of the best opportunities to reduce water and air contamination.
Sistema.bio started with food, and a simple idea: small farmers are heroes. And there are a lot of them. The majority of global food production depends on about 400 million smallholder farms, where about two billion people work to feed most of the world. They manage about half of the world’s arable lands and may be humanity’s best hope for a sustainable future.
We work with individual farmers to help them become part of the circular economy: maximize the use of resources on hand. A very abundant, and pungent, resource on a farm is manure. It also accounts for a large part of farmer’s GHG emissions and water contamination.
Sistema.bio digester technology transforms this environmental and health risk into a clean organic fertilizer that helps smallholder farmers produce more healthy food. In the process, they add carbon-rich organic material to the soil, increasing long term production and pulling GHG from the atmosphere.
The result of this process is renewable natural gas—biogas—an energy source that can be used to power these same farms. This gives smallholder farmers more options to harvest, process and store food, reducing food waste.
The aggregated environmental impacts of this simple intervention across millions of farmers is massive. Farmers reduce GHG emissions by treating manure, displacing chemical fertilizers and reducing fossil fuel and firewood consumption. This also reduces the harmful agricultural runoffs of chemical fertilizers and manure that choke rivers and cause dead patches in the oceans.
Collectively, we need to grow more food on less land using less resources to feed a growing population. Sistema.bio invests in small farmers because they are our best chance of creating a regenerative, carbon negative food system that is up to this challenge. They are heroes.
You are a part of the food system whether you realize or not. By choosing to buy organic, Fair Trade, and food from your local smallholder farmers, you are choosing to support farmers and a sustainable food system. You can also support Sistema.bio farmers directly by lending to our farmers on the KIVA or Lend-a-hand platforms, sponsoring a farmer who cannot afford the technology, or connecting us with groups of farmers.
Join us in making all small farmers heroes. You are what you eat, so eat sustainable. The future depends on it.