The Future Of Artificial Intelligence And Robotics In Global Food Security


Aug. 19, 2022, 1:04 p.m.

The world's food insecurity is nothing new since its stark effects are prevalent in low-income countries and are often linked to poverty, conflicts, climate extremes, soil degradation, post-harvest losses, pests, and diseases. Billions of people experience the severity of food insecurity in different forms, resulting from drought, worsening fiscal constraints, currency devaluations, substandard food produce, water shortages, rise in food and oil prices.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), food security means having, at all times, both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet dietary needs for a productive and healthy life. So, food security is not merely about producing sufficient food but also investing in sustainable food production that is affordable and has nutritional value. The principal focus is to produce enough food consistently to feed your "own" people with a surplus to provide for the nutritional needs of other countries. Food quality and quantity are strategic measures to control the long-standing drivers of acute hunger and its adverse impact on an already broken food system. Before the Covid19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, parts of the world, especially in Africa, were susceptible to hunger due to staggering cases of conflicts, climate, and market shocks, food losses (at the stage of production, postharvest, and processing), and food waste (at the end of the food chain as a result of the retailer and consumer behavior).

The direct economic consequences of food waste (excluding fish and seafood) run to the tune of $750 billion annually. FAO estimates that nearly a third of the world's food is lost or wasted along the food chain from the farm to the marketplace. Similarly, developing countries suffer more food losses during agricultural production, while in middle-and-high income regions, food waste at the retail and consumer levels tends to be higher. Rapid rise in population, anthropogenic (human-caused) greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), loss of biodiversity, and eco-systems are a growing concern. However, biological threats account for 40 percent of global food loss, which poses one of the biggest upsets to food security. These country-specific events put a strain on resources and disrupt food supplies globally.

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The world's food is produced majorly by smallholders, hence the need for digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics that have the potential to enable farmers to grow higher quality crops, offer resilience in food security and improve agricultural sustainability, biodiversity, and nutrition. AI and Robotics can play a crucial role in meeting the incessant food demand of the future only if there is a policy of digital inclusion where the technology is made scale-neutral, cost-effective, and accessible. Emerging AI technologies in Agriculture have been promising in the areas of:

- Pest modeling, remote sensors for soil monitoring, and crop yield

- Machine vision to help protect plant health by identifying nutrient deficiencies and plant defects by the use of cluster-based color variants

- Seed planting, irrigation, weed-controlling, automatic food grading, counting, and harvesting robots.

- Satellite imagery and remote sensing data to collate information on crop development, weather patterns, soil biology, and drought

- Drones for mechanical pollination, mapping, spraying, aerial surveying, and disaster management

AI and Robotics will have advanced integrated pest management systems and methods to minimize excessive greenhouse gases and help quester carbon in the soil. The development of carbon-neutral digital farm technologies will mitigate the effects of climate change through prediction and adaptation data sets where carbon footprints are accounted for, in real or virtual settings. In the future, farm activities will become more autonomous, reduce operation expenditure and workload on farmers, produce more output with less input, and enhance efficiency, precision, and sustainability, as envisioned by 3Farmate Robotics.

The 3Farmate Robotics team is highly committed to leveraging AI-powered robots to improve soil quality, optimize yield quality, and achieve greater food security and nutrition while contributing substantially to the sustainable development goals (SDGs).


tag: Africa, Agribusiness, Agritech, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Food Security,

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