Driving food security with digitalization
The world is only seven years from the target to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 (UN SDG 2) of ending hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity in all its forms by 2030. However, the distance between the result and the target grows wider each succeeding year. The major drivers behind growing food insecurity – such as war, economic shocks, and extreme climate – have intensified and are creating a context where meeting the goals is becoming more challenging and uncertain.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that nearly 670 million people (8% of the world’s population) will still be facing hunger in 2030, even if a global economic recovery is considered. Increasing agricultural productivity sustainably is the only way the world can meet the global challenges facing agriculture and food systems, for which digital transformation of agriculture will be an enabler. It can boost rural economies, increase food security, reduce poverty, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and decrease biodiversity loss.
However, the path to increasing agricultural production is laden with multiple challenges described below.
Roadblocks to improved food security and how Agriculture 4.0 can help overcome them
Loss of fertile land
Arable land is the key to increased food production. However, fertile land is shrinking daily, with millions of acres being lost to urbanization and development. This leaves us with the only option of increasing agricultural productivity by leveraging innovative technologies.
With the United Nations estimating the world's population to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, production must increase proportionately to meet demand. Agriculture should adopt digital transformation enabled by connectivity to cater to increasing demand. Deploying technology will aid decision-making, improve risk and variability management, and maximize per-acre yields.
Volatile weather, increasing extreme events like droughts and floods, limited availability of water, soil erosion, declining biodiversity, impaired pollination, resistant pests, and weeds, and varying growing seasons are affecting agricultural productivity. An intelligent purpose-built cloud platform for agriculture - Cropin Cloud enables contextualized data to be leveraged by machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), and predictive analytics software to transform into valuable insights and best practices that farmers can use for efficient management, to analyze risks and maximize profits. It can help farming communities and businesses in precision agriculture and determine the best input combination and proper application to optimize yields sustainably.
Rising consumer expectations
With increased awareness, consumers today demand higher nutritional content and food that is free from chemical residues, along with reduced impact on the environment during cultivation, which directly controls the cultivation method and crops to grow. Digitalization enables monitoring of climate smart agriculture and ensures end-to-end food traceability for consumers. Cropin Cloud aggregates incoming data from various pipelines to record end-to-end traceability and visibility across the value chain. Monitoring also accelerates R&D efforts to develop ideal cultivars that produce crops with higher nutritional adequacy.
Lack of access to quality inputs
Most farmers do not have access to high-quality seeds, inputs, advice, markets, or competitive prices; consequently, the quality and quantity of produce are reduced. The efficiently integrated Cropin Cloud platform improves visibility of farmers to various players in the Agri-ecosystem, which offers immense benefits to both the farmer and the industry. It facilitates farmer enablement by providing market insights, access to quality inputs, and financing.
Lack of adequate awareness about modern technologies
Although farmers are eager to adopt innovative technologies/tools that can give them an edge, they are also concerned about food affordability and viability. They lack adequate awareness to leverage technology to its fullest potential, its adoptability, and its usability. An intelligent platform helps farmers leverage technology with simplified customizable interfaces in multiple languages. An agile platform like Cropin Cloud enables farmer engagement by extending digitalized Package of Practices (PoP) to be followed with timelines and alerts, intelligent data-driven advisories, pest and disease alerts, and weather updates, along with automation.
Antiquated practicesMost traditional agricultural practices are generalized and not precise. This leads to wastage, loss of inputs, pollution of the environment, and reduced fertility of the land. Implementation of modern farming practices optimizes production efficiency, protects the environment, and helps meet the increasing food demands of growing populations through efficient farm management.
Sub-optimal data collectionAge-old farming practices limit data collection, sharing, and analysis to arrive at data-driven insights that can optimize efficiency, increase yields, and ensure a sustainable tomorrow. To add to that, these data collection methods are not verifiable. Digitalization optimizes data collection and ensures that the data is safe, secure, and easily accessible.
Lack of data on farms and farmersThere is a dearth of data on farms and farmers that can provide actionable information. Further, the diversity and nuances of the farms inhibit customization and penetration of effective tailored products/solutions. Cropin uses tracking devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, agricultural drones, remote sensors, and satellite monitoring of crops to record and share accurate real-time data from various data pipelines. Cropin Cloud aggregates these incoming data with historical and geographical data and creates visibility of farmers to various stakeholders in the Agri-ecosystem.
Supply chain lossesInefficient inventory management, storage, product processing and packing, order tracking, and quality control also lead to pre- and post-harvest losses, making real-time data-driven intelligence crucial to every stage of the supply chain.
To sum up, digitalization of agriculture using platforms like Cropin Cloud solve the above highlighted issues through:
- Optimized data collection and efficient farm management
- Farmer engagement/enablement
- End-to-end monitoring
- Data-driven Agri-intelligence advisories
Cropin has developed Cropin Cloud – an intelligent agriculture cloud that provides revolutionary powers to every stakeholder in the Agri-ecosystem. Cropin combines its expertise in use of multiple modern technologies such as earth observation sciences, data sciences, machine learning, cloud/weather data and intelligence, agronomical sciences, IoT, and precision agriculture to improve food safety.
Cropin Cloud's comprehensive agile, secure, scalable data collection and management platform helps food producers engage with farmers and drives sustainable farming as well as increased productivity. It enables smallholder farmers with knowledge sharing and monitors implementation of the best package of practices to maximize per-acre yield with optimum use of agrochemicals. Cropin Cloud connects multiple stakeholders of the Agri-ecosystem on a single platform to enable accelerated digital transformation and improve food security.
Intelligent agriculture cloud leveraged to drive farmer enablement
Cropin partnered with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and the Government of Karnataka on a project spanning 112 villages in Karnataka to enhance financial inclusion. Digitalization connected farmers to Agri-input companies that provide fair prices for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and agricultural loans, and enabled farmers to access market linkages. AI-driven agriculture insights and advisories provided by Cropin improved yield significantly. The project positively impacted 1200 farmers.