Sustainable food production and food vulnerability
The combination of a growing global population and the climate crisis relies on us being able to achieve food sustainability for the future of both our planet and society. In order to have food sustainability, a few pressing issues need addressing such as: greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, fair wages, and consumer health. Recent shocks to our world, including COVID and the war in Ukraine, have further highlighted the vulnerability of our global food system and the need to support it in a sustainable way.
What is sustainable food production and why is it important?
The challenges our food production faces can be grouped into the 3 pillars of sustainability that support people, planet and profit:
Food production needs technologies that help to mitigate climate change, use fewer finite resources and help to minimize waste.
Food production should guarantee access to food. Alongside this, it should also improve people’s welfare and not exploit workers.
Food production should be profitable for all actors in the food chain, while also meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
These pillars of sustainability are an important focus because research shows that more than one third of global greenhouse emissions can be attributed to the way we produce, process and package foods. What is alarming is that we need to be able to produce 60% more food than we do today in order to feed the additional 2 billion in population that will be present by 2050. As a result, the industry is under increasing pressure to be able to produce food rapidly and in a sustainable way (United Nations, 2021).
Why does technology play an important role in food sustainability?
In order to keep up with the pressures on the food industry, farmers and entrepreneurs have begun to rely on technology to future proof our systems. These technologies need to be both innovative and easily adoptive, as well as able to work in harmony with people and the planet. The innovation should connect farmers, researchers and the industry in order to develop modern solutions that make food production more sustainable. Farmers need to also have easy access to these technologies and be able to learn the skills required to operate them. There are many ways that advanced technologies are already helping the sustainability of the food industry such as soil sensors to precisely measure the nutrient composition of their soil in order to plant certain crops where the soil is most beneficial. Robotic seeders are ultra-light machines that sow seeds with minimal soil compaction and are being used to create high-res images of farmland, allowing farmers to monitor crop health, flooding extent and weed patches.
Start-Ups are paving the way
Start-ups are paving the way in using technology to protect our food industry. Here are two businesses helping farmers future proof their crops:
- Deep Planet. have created a predictive crop analytic platform that combines machine learning, satellite imagery, and agricultural data to help supply chain companies and farmers to make better decisions. They help to predict soil moisture, soil nitrogen and crop yield.
- Thor Ice. This start-up has developed a patented cooling technology called the IceGun® to kill harmful bacteria on poultry meat, without using any chemicals or pharmaceuticals. Thor Ice machines are designed for eco-friendly refrigerants and can deliver savings in water and energy.
Be a net-zero hero
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