World hunger is among the most alarming disasters of our time. Since the beginning of the decade, this problem has been getting worse: in 2019, 8.4 percent of the global population was undernourished, and a year later, this number almost reached 10 percent. The United Nations assumes that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to these grim statistics.
However, the situation may turn even more ruinous. Several months ago, Russia started a full-scale war against Ukraine. Hostilities and occupation have spread to the southern regions, rich in agricultural fields. Ukraine is among the top 5 crop producers, and its share of global export constitutes 9% of wheat, 11% of barley, and 13% of maize. Today, tens of millions of people from Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world are expected to experience famine due to the devastating war in Ukraine.
Technologies are not only about personal comfort. In this respect, they can also contribute to global wellbeing, and even save thousands of lives. We are here to reveal how we can solve world hunger using technological advancements in agriculture.
Major challenges today
Armed conflicts cause death and disaster. They ruin people’s lives, culture, economy, and nearly any other aspect of human existence. A food crisis appears when conflicts force people to abandon their fields, which leads to crop failure. That’s what happened in South Sudan, where a civil war made it impossible both to harvest and buy imported products, leaving millions of people starving.
However, brutal wars and food crisis is not only about Africa. Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe by territory, as well as crop export. Today, because of hostilities, financial and fuel issues, and the Russian army blocking Ukrainian ports, the country is being prevented from exporting tens of millions of tons of wheat, soybean, maize, and other products that are essential for survival in many regions.
Despite advancements in engineering, the agricultural sector relies heavily on manual labor nowadays. With that said, any significant cut in the workforce can have dramatic effects on food security at every stage, from production to trade and final prices.
There are numerous possible reasons for the labor shortage. Currently, the most relevant one is the COVID-19 pandemic. It caused a drastic increase in unemployment and shortened working hours. At the same time, the more production efficiency a country has, the fewer negative effects its food system will face. In this respect, automation in agriculture plays a pivotal role.
While the consequences of armed conflicts or social challenges on food security are almost instantly noticeable, climate change is far more intricate. Several years or even decades may pass before people see irreversible changes in ecosystems that are used to help them put bread on the table.
The nature of changes in the agriculture sector is as complex as the effects of climate change in general. People can’t harvest or graze animals if there are too many or too few rainfalls, the lands get destroyed by crop diseases and pests, farmers face water supply issues, and some crops even change their nutrient content. Again, low-income countries suffer the impact of climate change far more than wealthy nations, even though they barely contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Tech solutions to end global hunger
Solving world hunger with technology may sound challenging or even unrealistic. However, the primary goal is quite simple: we should make growing crops more efficient and reliable. Engineers and developers have already worked out smart machinery and programs that can translate these aspirations into action.
Let’s take a look at how to solve world hunger with the use of technology in agriculture.
Since crops experience effects caused by climate change, farmers strive to monitor their lifecycle to prevent or timely detect any unwanted harm. When it comes to crop monitoring, we can experience the benefits of using artificial intelligence in tackling global hunger, as we make use of farm technology that involves algorithms for smart data gathering and analysis.
Farmers can use a crop monitoring drone or even satellite imagery to get comprehensive information about the conditions of the land, see any abnormalities, and conduct highly efficient yield planning. On top of that, smart farming technology helps farmers choose the best moment for harvest to provide consumers with the most quality and nutrient-rich products.
Today, drones are quite widespread in nearly any aspect of our lives, from private entertainment to filmmaking and complex military operations. For the last couple of decades, people have also been using drones in agriculture. More specifically, drones can help farmers with the following:
- monitor and analyze the field, assess the condition of the soil and help improve its quality with the right application of fertilizers,
- analyze crop health based on a range of factors like growth rates and plant color,
- be AI-driven, which makes monitoring and predicting crop growth even more accurate, and
- plant, seed, spray, and irrigate fields, thus automating monotonous yet essential procedures.
Drone technology in agriculture helps farmers obtain valuable real-time insights into the conditions of their fields. Needless to say, it’s a major step forward on the way to fruitful farming and minimized losses.
Building and equipment management
Experienced farmers also choose to use technology in agriculture for managing their warehouses and machinery as they are an equally important part of farming as crop monitoring. You may want to keep track of all your equipment for machine farming, monitor its efficiency, track safety and the need for maintenance, as well as optimize storage conditions.
Investing in automated farming systems also means saving costs for repairs later. Technological machinery control allows prolonging the service life of your equipment. Moreover, smart building management cuts energy consumption.
Autonomous farming machines
Autonomous agricultural vehicles can literally save the industry, especially when it comes to a human labor shortage. Autonomous farm equipment can work without human assistance and in many cases is more effective than manual procedures.
Moreover, at all times, new farming equipment such as multipurpose drones, autonomous tractors, and specific robots used in agriculture step up the process of planting and harvesting crops. Autonomous farming is time- and energy-efficient for humans, as well as resource-friendly for nature. Besides that, it allows professional farmers to focus on more complex tasks by delegating routine work to self-driving and self-repairing machinery.
Whether global hunger is still a problem, isn’t the right question. The better one would be: how can we fight it and maintain global prosperity and ensure everyone on the planet will have a nourishing meal today?
Of course, agricultural technology will not end wars, solve social issues, or allocate resources fairly. But it can and will assist us in making production procedures more efficient and safe. Drones, smart machinery, hard- and software for crop monitoring, robotics in agriculture, and other farm technologies ensure that consumers around the world can get their products regularly, in the right amounts, and with the best quality possible.