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26 November 2021

Employing smart agriculture to feed 10 billion mouths

As the global population continues to rise steadily, the agricultural sector, already reeling from the effects of climate change, has been confronted with a challenge of epic proportions. How to feed a projected 10 billion people on the planet in 2050?

Whether it is the developed world where low-income families struggle for a proper meal or developing countries afflicted by drought and famine, a widespread food crisis is looming which could reach unprecedented levels in the next few decades.

A recent report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) stated that in order to feed a population of 10 billion in 2050 the following gaps would need to be addressed:

  • A 56 percent food gap between crop calories produced in 2010 and those needed in 2050 under business-as-usual growth
  • A 593-million-hectare land gap (an area nearly twice the size of India) between global agricultural land area in 2010 and expected agricultural expansion by 2050

A plethora of other factors - over-production, over-consumption and wastage are exacerbating the problem. According to The World Counts, an estimated 800 million people suffering from hunger and undernourishment could be fed by less than a quarter of the food lost or wasted in the US and Europe. Global supply chains have also failed to deliver food to parts of the world where it’s desperately needed, adversely impacting both the natural and human capital of those societies.

WRI states that half of the world’s arable land used for agriculture and livestock generates one-quarter of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  

Harnessing digital technology for smart agriculture is the best way forward. Digital connectivity, facilitated by public satellite and public or private LTE and 5G networks, along with use-cases based on the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, drones, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and analytics would not only enable precision farming but make agriculture more sustainable.

Bell Labs Consulting predicts that if 25 percent of all farms adopted precision farming by 2030, it would lead to yield increases of up to 300 million tonnes per year, a reduction in farming costs of up to $100 billion per year and a reduction of wastewater by up to 150 billion cubic meters per year.

Read the article to know more about how smart agriculture can help feed a burgeoning global population and mitigate the effects of climate change.

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