There’s not a single place in the world that doesn’t rely on agriculture to nourish the people who live there and that’s why IoT (Internet of Things) is proving so valuable. Growing and producing food, therefore, is one of the most universal human experiences, and it has been for millennia. In the future, unprecedented challenges will test the industry’s mettle, including climate change and a higher-than-ever global population.
In the U.S., the agriculture industry seems poised to meet these challenges by adopting innovative IoT technologies that will help farmers, growers, and producers achieve maximum yield and optimal crop quality while simultaneously minimizing the use of natural resources, such as arable land and fresh water, and chemicals like fertilizers. Since the issues facing food production are global, however, the global agricultural community will need to make this shift if it is to feed an estimated 8.5 billion people by 2030 and more than 11 billion people by 2100, as reported by the United Nations Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs.
The challenge has not gone unnoticed. Globally, governments and humanitarian organizations are putting their heads together in an effort to discover what can be done to address various challenges contributing to the food crisis before it turns into an emergency. In one recent example, the government in Bangladesh announced it is working with World Bank, to assess risks and come up with strategies to achieve climate-smart agriculture.
World Bank reports that climate change is expected to decrease Bangladesh’s agricultural GDP (gross domestic product) by 3.1% each year. In particular, rising sea levels will create challenges for this nation, which will experience an increase in salinization and a correlating reduction in arable land during the next several decades. Tropical storms are also to blame for increasing salinization in Bangladesh. For instance, cyclones in 2007 and 2009 caused dramatic crop loss—reportedly, enough rice to feed 10 million people was lost in the two disasters. To address the impacts of climate change on agriculture, the Bangladesh government and World Bank launched the Climate-Smart Agriculture Country Profile, which will help the nation take stock and scale up climate smart approaches to agriculture, along with the Climate Smart Investment Plan, which will identify investment and policy opportunities.
In South Africa, too, increasingly frequent droughts and heat waves have left the agriculture sector vulnerable and in need of new solutions to safeguard its future, at least as far as food is concerned. According to The Climate Group, damages caused by extreme weather events in Western Cape, a South African province, between 2003 and 2014 cost the nation more than $413 million. A collaboration between the Western Cape Dept. of Agriculture and several other government and academic organizations, which began back in 2014, successfully brought stakeholders together and has provided a roadmap for actions that will help improve the agriculture sector’s resilience to a changing climate. The SmartAgri (Smart Agriculture for Climate Resilience) project is now entering the implementation phase.
Before nations can implement technology to address the challenges facing their agricultural industries, each must evaluate its own unique challenges and bring key stakeholders together to plan the best way forward. The argument can be made that technology will be involved is the best way forward for most, if not all, situations, paving the way for the future of food. Hopefully, with the help of technology, the future of food will involve having enough to fuel a growing global population.
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