Jayprakash Shet

CEO | Founder, Iknowvations

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Is it possible to provide a healthy meal at Rs.5/- around 10 cents ?

Today we see lot of food wastage all around the world. At one end we see tons of food is wasted & at other we see millions of people sleep everyday without a good healthy meal. Can we bridge this huge gap ?

We are mass producing thousands of products to make them accessible to millions of people. why can't we do that in food sector , bring down the price & let it be available to needy hungry people all over the world ?

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    Apr 7 2013: I was just wondering if all the cold drinks manufacturers like Pepsi, Coke make bottles with wide neck instead of narrow neck, they can be utilized for a very cheap source of packaging the food, as they are in fact air tight & sturdy containers.
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    Apr 7 2013: I was just thinking..
    One food that tends to meet a large portion of dietary requirements is brown rice

    Perhaps this would add to the subject?
    Seeing as the food can be easily contained for long periods of time, is light weight and can suit the climate of a number of countries local and within the most problematic areas with this issue (simple and quick transport).
    I believe rice is also the most abundant food source already in countries such as India.
    Its not quite food-distribution on a global scale, but it would immediately provide an easily affordable food source (atleast 2/3 of a healthy meal).

    I eat it myself on a daily basis, almost solely with just a small few spoonfulls of flavouring, so its not a double standard as to what poorer people would be expected to eat either.
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      Apr 7 2013: Thanks for your inputs. Yes, rice is one of the main staple food as far as India is concerned. We consume rice daily. In many other parts of the world also rice is one of the main item of daily meal. But unfortunately the price of rice now a days have risen very sharply. Wheat also can be considered as not only it is available at half price of rice but also provides more strength. Wheat is also consumed on daily basis. If this is coupled with green leafy vegetables with the help of some good replicable technology at village level, I think nobody will sleep without a healthy meal.
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      Apr 7 2013: One area that researchers have been pursuing is supplementing the rice at the level of the miller with micronutrients. Even in India, my understanding is that hunger is typically less about having enough calories at this point and more about missing key micronutrients such as iron.
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    Apr 6 2013: .My answer
    It is if:
    (1) The weather is good,
    (2) The invalid happiness is excluded.
    (For details, see the 1st article, points 3,12(1), at
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      Apr 7 2013: Thanks for your input and article but frankly speaking I could not get any answer to my question. Can you please elaborate further ?
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        Apr 9 2013: Thanks. It is my pleasure!

        Our life goal is to keep our DNA alive
        (rather than for invalid happiness).

        Our eating is for this goal
        (rather than for invalid taste).

        We are instinctively herbivores
        (rather than carnivores or omnivores).
        Good weather makes vegetable food priced > USD0.10/meal.
        (e.g. in rural China)

        (link ibid)
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          Apr 9 2013: Good weather makes vegetable food priced > USD0.10/meal.. We are here to find how this can be sustained even if there is no good weather.
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    Apr 5 2013: A healthy meal in its entirety for 10c?
    Probably not an adequate meal, but to determine a practical cost one would need a point of reference for Indias cost of living (assuming we start with India), so next time you're in a larger supermarket and local market..

    1. Find out the lowest price for a can of un-branded beans
    2. The lowest cost for a bowl of rice (roughly, given the size of the bag)
    3. A package of fruit/vegetable seeds (any).

    A point of reference would give an idea on production costs of the items in question
    (I've worked extensively in the retail and food sectors).
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      Apr 5 2013: Welcome to this conversation & thanks for your valuable inputs. Well, if we refer to "super market" or " can of un-branded beans" or " package of fruit or vegetable" it will be highly impossible to bring down the final cost. But yes, if we refer to local market produce in bulk, I think we can manage. In many places a meal is being served locally at around 25 cents. What I am thinking is can we provide some kind of simple technology ( which can be replicated easily) input by which, the food can be preserved more & transported easily at a cheaper rate ?

      I have seen in many villages, sometimes the vegetables fetch such a low price that it barely covers transportation charges to the nearby market. All the inputs - time, water, seeds, final produce, their labor - everything goes to waste. Really bad scenario ! and on other end people sleep without a meal. So it is not lack of food but proper distribution at right time is the main problem.
  • Apr 4 2013: Jayprakash I admire what you are trying to do. My limited knowledge is about the food banks in America. Problems are becoming worse now. One blessing is the food lunch progam which was implemented at the behest of the military. If you don't feed a kid, he'll never be a good soldier or sailor.
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      Apr 5 2013: Yes! Proper food is very much an essential part of any human being ! and if some portions of global population is deprived of that then it affects whole society. "If you don't feed a kid, he'll never be a good soldier or sailor. " Also he might not be a good human being - which is not good for other fellow human beings.

      I still remember reading about an experiment where a couple of dears were transported on a remote island. The number grew. Food for all of them was enough but as their population breached the holding capacity of island, food became scarce and their social structure started crumbling. There were more fights, more stress....

      I think we should learn from this experiment & start taking steps before it is too late.
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    Apr 4 2013: Dear Jayprakash, no it is is not possible to provide a healthy meal at Rs. 5/-
    About a year ago I conducted an experiment, inspired by the idea a friend gave me. The challenge was to live on Rs. 30/- per day for all food and drink for a week. I pulled it off but barely. Lost 4 kgs by the way. I am sure I could not have survived a month.
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      Apr 5 2013: Well, I think what you did was to experiment alone. What I am suggesting is that with the help of present technology and on a large scale it seems possible. In Ahmedabad there are a few special small hotels who provide meals to poor at Rs.5/- . If they can do it on a small scale basis, I think with some technological inputs & some brain storming, it may be possible to provide a healthy meal to many needy persons.
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        Apr 5 2013: That's great. But can you indicate whether these hotels provide meals at Rs. 5/- as a business or charity? Subsidies won't help, I think. If wholesome meals with basic nutritional values can be provided at Rs.5/- as a successful private business model, I am interested to know about it.
        Silent hunger is more devastating than just hunger. A human being requires properly balanced nutritional diet between six months of age to 18 years or the growth may be stunted. It may result in lower brain mass, lean muscle and deficient vital functions. Such a person can still be alive but will produce lower socially.
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          Apr 5 2013: It is a business, though it services mainly poor & laborers. There are around five to six hotels in Laldarwaja area of Ahmedabad. This is the heart of old city. These hotels are there for nearly 50-60 years. This proves its success. Ya. you are right, subsidies won't help. I do agree on that and that is why I am looking for technological answer that can bridge this huge food gap. Instead of putting more & more resources for food production, if we can find some good cheap way to preserve & transport food from production to end user, we can ensure that our precious resources like water & productive land can be free & productive for many many years.
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      Apr 4 2013: Ya, I think some kind of cheap technology should be there at the point of food production so that food is preserved as soon as it is produced. This will not only help to lengthen the self life but also will help to distribute it to distant locations.
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          Apr 5 2013: Here also it is more or less same but the question is for some families not here in India but almost all countries this percentage is very high almost 40 to 50%. It is for them if we can do something without any more significant inputs ( like free lunch, donation.. etc), it will be better not only for them but for us also.
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    Apr 3 2013: Jayprakash, are you familiar with the Poverty Action Lab at MIT? It is a research group involving an international group of scholars who study issues that include hunger (but also health care and other challenges) and cost-effective means of addressing them.

    Do check out that website (J-PAL). Their finding is that, looking at people who are not specifically in war-torn areas, so that would include many of those living on the equivalent of less than$1 per day in India, China... the challenge is not so much adequate calories but rather micronutrients. They have studied strategies that work, and that don't, for increasing take-up of micronutrients, cleaning water, using mosquito nets, getting kids vaccinated, and so forth.
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      Apr 4 2013: Thanks for your information. I checked out the website . They are doing their bit, but unfortunately I did not find any thing related to prevention of food wastage, am I missing something ?
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        Apr 4 2013: They are not involved in prevention of food wastage and transfer to those who need it. They are involved, though, in the question you posed of what an efficient means is of getting families to consume adequate nutritious food.
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    Apr 3 2013: no we can't, or rather yes we can. no we can't in the short run. food is so cheap in the west relative to income because the income is high. the income is high because we have more capital, which makes our work more effective. a westerner can easily produce tens of dollars with an hour of work, with all the machines, computers, cars and good tools. the same person in india can produce a few cents per hour with his hands and not too good tools, rickshaws and such. and yes we can, because we can make capital. that is the essence of the economy. we work to make our work easier and more productive in the future. we accumulate capital. so if you want people to have abundant healthy food, you need to have a look at capital formation. what hinders it? why capital is not forming? how can we make it forming sooner? there are many factors to it, one of them is obstructions to free trade. get rid of it right now, because trade barriers hurt the poor people of the world. get rid of agricultural subsidies in US and EU. get rid of tariffs. get rid of ridiculous safety and "consumer protection" regulations. let products flow all around the globe, and see the poor regions get richer in no time.
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      Apr 3 2013: I think the question has been misunderstood. I am not asking why a person can not get a healthy meal in India. I do not think this is problem only in India. It is global. Even in US & EU there are millions of people who do not get proper meal every day. Also your vision about India is not what it should be. I do agree that there is income difference but here I am not asking for the ways to increase income so that food becomes cheaper comparatively- affordable to waste.
      The idea -" because I can afford - it is dirt cheap " is the main cause of wastage of any kind of resources of our mother earth. And this leads to more & more exploitation of these resources. What I am asking is how this wastage can be minimized using present technology. How with the same food production level we can feed more & more people ? Your reply leads to - How to get rich & afford wastage - looks more political then technological.

      According to wikipedia -"In 2011, Extreme poverty in the United States, meaning households living on less than $2 per day before government benefits, was double 1996 levels at 1.5 million households, including 2.8 million children.[3] In 2013, child poverty reached record high levels, with 16.7 million children living in food insecure households, about 35% more than 2007 levels.[4] The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is approaching 1960s levels that led to the national War on Poverty.[5]" - source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_the_United_States.

      Other quote - "In 2010, 17.2 million households, 14.5 percent of households (approximately one in seven), were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States 1 (Coleman-Jensen 2011, p. v.)
      Source - http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm
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        Apr 3 2013: 1, i don't see any problems wasting something that is cheap. i also don't see the point in wasting effort on saving something that is abundant. we have much better things to do.

        2, important part " $2 per day before government benefits". benefits are in great part the reason for this situation. this kind of poverty is mainly a result of the war on poverty itself, and almost exclusively a result of government interventions. at the level of the US economy, in a free market setting, nobody would make that few. these numbers are bogus and inflated.
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          Apr 4 2013: I agree with ZX Style. Really it is very shocking to know that you do not see the problem and justify wastage. This is utterly disregard to the resources of Earth, other human beings & our future generation. We have seen many resources once abundant have become scarce today because of this kind of thinking.

          We have got abundant fresh water. 2-3 generations ago nobody thought that someday we might have to pay for water also . Now at many places it is being sold at almost half prices than that of milk. We are facing this situation because we did not utilize this precious resource wisely.

          So is the food. Food production is becoming more & more costly. Production cost of 1 kg of grain is much much higher than what it used to be few years ago. The same applies for meat production also. In such scenario wastage of food becomes a very important issue. And instead of concern about this you justify wastage ! Really shocking !
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        Apr 4 2013: i'm very sorry to shock you (not really), but you were not talking about resources at all. you were talking about feeding everyone. you might think it is related, but you are grossly mistaken.

        with technology, we can easily feed 9bn people. we can also easily provide clean water for 9bn people. famines are getting more rare, health is going up for decades. we don't need to stop wasting. we need to produce more. it is not only doable, but also easy. it has tried and proven methods. pointing a finger on the "wasteful" rich people is nothing but looking for scapegoat.

        to get a little more informed, watch the talks by hans rosling and matt ridley.
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          Apr 4 2013: "We do not need to stop wasting. " " pointing finger on the "wasteful" rich people" ...???
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          Apr 4 2013: Krisztian, I have watched both Hans and Matt. Can you please lead me to authentic sources of information which supports your comment, "with technology, we can easily feed 9bn people. we can also easily provide clean water for 9bn people. famines are getting more rare, health is going up for decades."
          Rich and Poor keep changing positions over centuries. The West, traditionally Europe and Continental America plundered world, societies, countries and their resources and labor to get rich. So fingers are steadily pointed at wasteful West, whether or not you like that.
          That technology, the resource hungry and consumption championing variety, can support wastefulness is a pipe dream.
          I am not impressed about ideas having sex. All sex do not necessarily produce offspring and when it does there are as many Cains as Abels.
  • Apr 3 2013: I agree, but how do you get everyone in the program? Actually, the stores in America are fairly good about recycling and helping the food bank. I do remember hearing about a botulism problem here in Fort Worth at a food recycler. That has to be considered. Also, Costa Rica seems to have had a problem with the fishermen not giving the rest of the shark to the poor after collecting the valuable fins.
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      Apr 3 2013: If we look somewhat deeply , we can find that major wastage of food is done in big cities. Also the paradox is that these cities do have technology & resources to make this food available to hungry people out there.

      Yes, the important question is how to get everyone involved, as this problem do need participation of motivated people. But what I am looking for is how with the use of present technology, we can solve this big... gap without large manpower. Can we have some kind of technical system ?

      We should have some grass root level technology where food can be preserved for use at later stage or can be converted in some form to be used later on.
      • Apr 4 2013: This problem is more pressing in some countries than others. In America food scarcity is increasing, but it will become a real threat if the Porkers keep growing the population to reduce wages more. I have read that the per person consumption of calories is declining in India with 1.2 billion people. You are right of course, and the weighing may vary from country to country and time to time. What I am saying is only that everything has many costs. Recycling can be dangerous. We had Chili con carne that was rejected by a resturant that was sold through a recycler here. It resulted in some boyulism cases.
        I guess someone went to jail.
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          Apr 4 2013: You are absolutely right about recycling. it can be dangerous as far as food is concerned but I think with proper technology it can be tackled with. With ever increasing population, Food production & food wastage is becoming very important issue. We have to take some corrective actions.