November throws the spotlight on the future global food system, with COP27 and The Future of Food Production Summit addressing the urgent need to radically transform the way we produce and consume food.
While all eyes will turn to Egypt as it hosts the UN climate conference from the 6th – 17th this month, the Future of Food Production Summit is the online gathering for companies involved in improving the sustainability, efficiency and resilience of global food supply chains. Starting on the 15th, the three-day virtual event will feature over 75 expert speakers, more than 50 presentations and 20+ hours of content as it explores a variety of mission-critical themes.
One of its keynote speaker sessions will focus on Resilience and Security, presenting an opportunity to explore this complex issue with a range of industry experts as they discuss solutions that will have a positive impact on the planet and increase the efficiency and resilience of our food supply chains.
As we have known for some time, adoption of technology is pivotal to sustainable farming, with technical advancements over the past few years leading to significant growth, particularly in the CEA sector. But without adoption on an international scale, global hunger, already at a critical level, will only worsen and climate goals will become hopelessly unobtainable. UN recently expressed its concern by saying the world’s climate pledges are ‘nowhere near’ meeting the 1.5C goal.
One of the speakers, Light Science Technologies’ Innovation Director John Matcham, wholeheartedly supports the consensus that AgTech is the driving force, but there are major challenges ahead: “We can win this battle, but there are some tough decisions to be taken on every level of humanity . . . as food growers and technologists, we can achieve what is needed, but long term we need the rest of the world on the team. We need as an industry to improve our message and engage with the end user.”
As for ‘the rest of the world’, one country which would benefit from the use of agricultural innovation is India. “India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change,” Omnivore managing partner Jinesh Shah told TechCrunch in its article on AgTech last month, which opened with: “To state the (painfully) obvious: The fates of agriculture and climate change are inextricably linked.” As it stands, according to the United States Environment Protection Agency, agriculture is responsible for about a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Agriculture represents 20% of India’s GHG emissions, but the sector is also incredibly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which may begin to threaten Indian food security in the coming decade,” Shah continued.
Yet recently there have been reports that technical advancements have led to tremendous growth in the Indian agriculture sector – advancements which support sustainable farming and can tackle the climate crisis. Several government initiatives have enabled access to more AgTech funding opportunities across the country. The Indian authorities created a digital agricultural mission for initiatives based mostly on new applied sciences comparable to synthetic intelligence, distant sensing and GIS technology, blockchain, drones, and robotics, amongst others, for the years 2021–2025. In addition, the federal government has developed a spread of schemes and initiatives to encourage the adoption of technology within the agricultural sector so as to obtain sustainable farming strategies. Furthermore, India has roughly 1,300 AgTech start-ups providing a various selection of options, starting from computerised soil maps to tech-powered indoor farms.
This will of course take some time to filter down so that India’s vast population can benefit, but it’s a start and the wheels are starting to turn to forge a new path, one that will address climate change and famine.
Closer to home, AgTech is being championed by more key influencers. At a recent AgTech Ireland roundtable, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue stated that “AgTech is seeing a real revolution in Ireland” as he outlined the importance of technology.
As the global realisation of just how imperative AgTech is to climate change and our own very existence is starting to gain momentum, the rest of the world simply must come onboard now.