Modern problems require modern solutions. However, is the problem of hunger really modern? Before that, when do local issues become international problems? How does AgriTech come into the picture? These are some important and extremely relevant questions that will be answered in the following piece.
Answering the first question, global hunger has always been a problem. Especially in the Indian context, where thousands were bereft of basic necessities during a disastrous and gory partition; hunger has its roots in the very history of our nation. Even though the Sustainable Development Goal to make the world hunger free was adopted in 2015; as per a 2019 article, the situation has not changed. According to a UN report in 2019, one in nine people on the planet face a problem in regular access to a basic meal.
This is exactly when a local issue becomes an international fiasco. It is when the numbers are posed by international organisations on a global forum. That is solely shining a light on the problem. What about the solution? The solution is in fact provided by the concepts that the pioneers of the industry swore by.
When it comes to the field of AgriTech, the industry itself has faced exponential growth. FnB News states that in FY 2019-20 alone it grew by 85 per cent, in terms of investment and size. The Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics, starts that there is more than enough evidence to claim that technology is the best alternative to increase productivity in agricultural sector.
It is AgriTech that allows the enhancement of production and productivity, lowering of operating costs, facilitates access to markets, information, credit, and capacity-building. By doing so, it serves as an effective solution to the problem of Global Hunger.
Using technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, blockchain and deep learning enhances the daily agronomic processes of farmers and agribusinesses alike, and can bring a sense of streamlining throughout the entire agricultural value chain.
One important point to note while examining hunger as a problem is to understand its complexity. It is not a simple demand-supply equation at hand. The food security issue is the falling bridge between the two variables of this equation. Though we do not produce enough to meet the demands of all the people on the planet; yet there is another reason for the way the issue has escalated. That reason is the inefficiency of the storage and distribution sector.
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Even if large quantities of food are produced at the farms; all of it does not reach the market for sale. This is where agricultural technology (AgriTech) offers solutions. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) enables farmers to maximise their productivity. Post this, several systems aid proper storage conditions, the transmission of produce and help in accounting for the market sales. However, the most imperative aspect of these operations is the systems that display this entire process on one screen thereby preventing errors and minimising loss of produce.
AgriTech companies backed by AI-supported climate-resistant farming, are now leaning towards digital mandis. This new ‘e-mandi’ system relieves pressure on farmers by eliminating costly travelling costs to take the produce to the markets and auctions. This reduces food wastage substantially and is a positive step towards the zero hunger initiative.
Though it is still in its primary stages, the concept blends well with the Digital India movement the government has emphasised while proposing the Union Budget 2021-22. It is a step forward in digitising the agricultural sector and is inextricably linked to technology for its betterment and growth in the face of climate change and Zero Hunger. Therefore, besides being the future, AgriTech is the solution and bridge to a world that can witness Zero Hunger.
(Views expressed in the article are author’s own.)