world food day

World Food Day: 6 Ways Agtech Can Help Improve Global Food Security

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Yesterday marked World Food Day, a designation intended to draw attention to the very serious and persistent problem of global hunger. Originally founded to celebrate the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the division of the United Nations that’s focused on achieving food security worldwide, almost every country on the map now recognizes the occasion as an opportunity to bring awareness to food security.

By addressing multiple aspects of the food supply chain, from soil health to food waste, agriculture technologies can help ensure that food is grown as efficiently and sustainably as possible while also helping to maximize the benefit of each calorie.

Technology and innovation can help revolutionize virtually every step of the process. It’s not only about ensuring that each harvest is bountiful and that each bite stays out of the trash bin; it’s also about helping rural farmers connect with one another and the outside world, finding new channels for distributing food in remote regions, introducing alternative growing methods for parched and cruel climates, and so much more.

Ultimately, technology and innovation could be the deciding factor to whether we can eliminate global hunger for our ever-increasing population.

To celebrate World Food Day, we’ve put together a collection of stories from the AgFunderNews archives to shed light on some of the technologies that are addressing food security from several perspectives. Below is by no means an exhaustive list of all the companies and technologies supporting the mission to achieve food security, but a brief sampling to spark the global hunger advocate in all of us.

Adapting to and Mitigating Climate Change

Agriculture was a hot topic at the COP21 climate talks in Paris last December. As part of the event, many countries submitted individual climate action plans to help meet the convention’s aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The FAO recently released its 2016 The State of Food and Agriculture report which this year focuses on climate change and food security and is designed to help put the plans laid out in the Paris Agreement into action, including guidance on climate adaptation.

Growing More with Less

Farming is rarely as simple as sewing a seed and waiting for it to grow. There are now a wide variety of technologies aiming to help farmers grow more with fewer inputs, such as water and chemicals, and in an increasingly volatile climate. These technologies range from biotech inputs to digital precision agriculture technologies using big data.

Connecting Farmers Where It Counts

Internet and cellular connectivity, and power are not always luxuries the world’s farmers can rely upon, whether in the US or in Indonesia. Often located in remote parts of the world, miles from the nearest town, agribusinesses will complain that at least part of their land is without basic connectivity, let alone 3G or 4G. Startups and network incumbents are innovating in this space.

Ensuring a Safe and Reliable Food Supply

Food fraud and safety are growing global concerns that are capturing the attention of an increasing number of resources worldwide, including the US Department of Homeland Security. Food fraud hurts the local economies that produce authentic products, cheapens the market for similar goods, and results in people paying for something they didn’t want to buy. Food safety is critical to ensuring that the food we produce and consume provides nourishment–not nuisances.

Cutting Food Waste to Boost Food Consumption

Even in developed nations like the United States, thousands of pounds of produce is wasted. Much of the time it’s because it fails to live up to the aesthetic standards that some supermarkets and other wholesale buyers impose. Other times, it’s down to inefficient logistics and opaque supply chains. Startups are looking for ways to both reduce waste and repurpose it for other uses

Alternative Protein May Offer New Options

Current agricultural practices are not going to satisfy the growing global demand for meat-based protein. The small but growing number of startups manufacturing plant-based and cultured meat and milk alternatives could help to fill the gap, and there’s even an investor coalition representing an aggregate of $1.25 trillion in assets that’s dedicated to advocating for alternative protein startups.

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