How a Sustainability MBA Prepares Graduates for the Next Green Revolution

Shovel, dirt, and blooming plants

Fifty years ago, advances in science and technology helped spark the first green revolution, helping to prevent a food crisis from ravaging countries and populations around the globe.

The first green revolution involved a number of set research practices which helped increase agricultural production globally, both in developing and industrialized nations from 1930 to 1960–most notably in Mexico, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

“In 1961, the government of India…was thought to be on the verge of starvation,” notes The Economist. “Over the next 40 years the green revolution spread round the world, helping ensure that, where its seeds were planted, famines became things of the past.”

Today, a new green revolution is occurring in response to emerging technologies, rising food commodity prices, and global warming. Through this new food revolution, scientists, farmers, and companies are aiming to make nutritious, sustainable food abundant enough for families all over the globe. This new revolution will be made possible in part, by MBA graduates who have been trained in sustainability practices.

Why are experts so concerned about a new food crisis?

The United Nations forecasts that by 2050 the world’s population will grow by more than two billion people. Half of these individuals will be born in rural Africa, and in the Southern half of Asia. According to National Geographic, these regions are also where the effects of climate change, including drought, heat waves, and extreme weather, are expected to hit the hardest. In addition, the world’s wheat and grain supply has been stunted.

“In the last 20 years, particularly for rice, wheat, and corn, there has been a slowdown in the growth rate of crop yields,” Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton tells National Geographic. “In some areas yields have stopped growing entirely. My personal view is that the breakdown of foods is the biggest threat of climate change.”

These scenarios echo a number of issues that had been happening nearly 50 years ago during the previous global food crisis. In fact, experts predicted that famines would kill hundreds of millions of people. But before those revelations could come to pass, the Green Revolution transformed global agriculture, doubling the grain and wheat production in developing countries.

To continue this progression, countries all over the world will have to band together to promote another green revolution.

How might the second Green Revolution occur?

Since the world’s population is expected to increase significantly over the next several decades, it is expected that there will be more pressure on food supplies to adjust to new demands, especially as the developing world adapts to more middle class lifestyles.

“The world’s population is expected to increase from 7 billion today to 9 or 10 billion by the end of the century, according to the United Nations,” writes Forbes contributor Jason Jay. “We also can expect more pressure on the food supply as people in the developing world adopt middle class lifestyles, which usually involve eating more meat. To satisfy global demand, we will need to roughly double today’s output, which means getting smarter about how we produce and manage food.”

Societies can manage this by introducing new and advanced information technology to farmers, including communication systems, robotics, and drones, which have the potential to boost yields, reduce waste, and mitigate environmental maladies.

According to Fortune, one of the easiest ways to avoid a food crisis in the future is to look into eliminating food waste on a local and global scale.

“No one knows for certain how much food the world wastes, but it seems that somewhere between 30 percent to 50 percent of the food we grow around the world grows uneaten,” Jay writes. “Waste occurs at almost every point in the chain–from farm to truck to warehouse to grocer to restaurant to household kitchen.”

How might MBA graduates help shape the future of food security and sustainability?

Scientists and data analysts have often been credited for the Green Revolution, but MBA graduates also play a crucial role in managing sustainable food practices.

As experts in sustainable business, MBA students and graduates can help farmers identify solutions to food waste issues.

“On farms in many parts of the world, food spoils because cold storage and transport are inadequate or non-existent,” Jay writes. “An obvious answer would be to install refrigeration in more farms, trucks, and warehouses, but this can be very costly. Another more economical approach is to equip farmers with better information and communications tools—smartphones are an obvious choice—so that farmers have information about markets at their fingertips and can better plan their harvests and distribution.”

Additionally, many farmers struggle with selling fruits, vegetables, and meats that are bruised, or otherwise unattractive for their markets, despite the fact that they are still consumible and edible in a mass market setting.

Knowing this, MBA graduates can help these farmers provide these seemingly tarnished foods with a customer base that can use them. Many entrepreneurs have aimed to do just that, connecting farmers who are looking to sell “unattractive” goods with a customer base that will purchase them. In fact, two MIT students recently launched a mobile application and website called “Spoiler Alert” which finds a customer base for spoiled, expiring, and excess food.

As experts in technology, supply chain management, finance, and sustainability, MBA sustainability graduates provide a necessary service helping farmers, and other food experts to help curb future food crises. Whether they work as consultants, or full time employees, graduates with MBA training can not only ensure that their clients and businesses are profitable, but can also provide a common good in today’s global economy.

For those interested in eliminating food crises, an MBA in Sustainability from Marylhurst University Online provides graduates with the skills necessary to make a difference.