(Expansion) – According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), international food prices reached an all-time high in February 2022, but the number of people facing food insecurity around the world increased by approximately 32% .
For its part, the World Bank estimates that by 2050, feeding a planet of more than 9 billion people will require an estimated 50% increase in agricultural production, which will intersect with climate change and become an important thesis. investment of venture capital funds in the coming years.
The situation is not simple. Food systems are struggling to cope with unfavorable commodity prices and war; As a result, food prices are high and food availability is declining, leading to a transformation of investment in agriculture, with most investment now going to agtech, food science and food science start-ups. and vertical agriculture, that is, towards agrotechnology (AgTech).
Agrotechnology becomes a fundamental tool to contribute to the achievement of the second of the Millennium Development Goals established by the UN: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.” According to data from organizations that group business information on private and public companies, last year 5,000 million dollars were invested in agrotechnology in 440 financing agreements for start-ups, backed by venture capital companies.
AgTech seeks to improve efficiency, profitability and sustainability while maintaining the highest levels of global food safety. It is a tool that is driving the agricultural industry in the 21st century, whose basic components are hardware and software and new technologies. It is the technology applied to agriculture that includes artificial intelligence and robotics.
Digital technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) is key to meeting growing demand for food sustainably, as IoT-based agriculture collects and analyzes data to help maximize operational efficiency, improve productivity , reduce waste, reduce environmental impact and optimize cost management.
The IoT in agriculture is integrated by remote sensors, robots, drones or computer images, which, combined with other tools, allow data to be collected and transformed into information to be shared through networks. Its power of data analysis enables more informed and timely decisions to boost agricultural productivity.
AgTech uses strategically placed remote sensors to measure and detect changes in soil moisture and nutrient levels, helping farmers make data-driven decisions that improve crop yields and reduce water waste and fertilizers.
It uses robots that help reduce traditional agricultural inputs and speed up food production; and relies on geographic information systems to analyze real-time data for mapping analysis to determine what crops should be planted and where, and how to provide the best possible nutrition to get the most out of each harvest.
It also uses data analysis of past and current events to gain insights to help predict possible outcomes based on well-informed decisions made today, and goes as far as employing modified indoor environments by considering factors such as climate change, land degradation, and water scarcity. .
Also, through the use of satellite images, sensor monitoring, and/or geographic information system (GIS) software, data on factors such as crop health, soil properties, and nutrient levels are obtained to determine how many resources are needed for a given segment of the crop field.
Food security requires a multidimensional approach: from social protection to ensure safe and nutritious food, especially for children, to transforming food systems for a more inclusive and sustainable world. Investments will have to be made in rural and urban areas and in social protection so that the poor have access to food and can improve their livelihoods.
The new frontiers of AgTech are still being drawn in the digital world, where data, tools and real-time decision-making come together to help agriculture meet growing consumer demands. But this requires investments that are essential to reduce hunger and poverty, improve food security, create jobs and increase resilience to disasters and crises.
Finally, an invitation to reflect on whether the problems related to food access and distribution are temporary or if they have deeper roots and are actually structural problems of an economic model, or an unsuccessful form of management with serious problems of equity.
Editor’s note: Pedro López Sela is Team Principal of ExO Builder, the most diverse global ecosystem of technological entrepreneurship in the world. He has co-founded 10+ companies and trained 5,000+ people in almost all sectors in Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. He is a globally recognized innovation, business, and entrepreneurship author. As an international speaker, he has shared stages with Peter Diamandis, Bob Dorf, Salim Ismail, Jeff Hoffman, to name a few. Follow him on and on . The opinions in this column belong exclusively to the author.