Deploy technology to fight food insecurity

Extreme poverty and hunger continue to fuel the increase in food theft and other petty crimes. If this deplorable development is not addressed, the situation could become volatile, causing an uprising against the rulers. For experts in history, you may recall that a similar situation occurred in France in the 18th century.

While I am not advocating a life of crime or rebellion, the truth is that hunger is powerful enough to distort a person’s sense of right and wrong. Over 155 million people suffer from acute food insecurity during the crisis.

Imagine that every minute up to 11 people die of hunger and malnutrition, which is more than the current global death rate from COVID-19 (seven people per minute). This shows how dire the whole situation is.

Around the world, many countries face increasing levels of acute food insecurity. This has succeeded in reversing decades of development progress. Even though we may dream of achieving zero hunger by 2030, recent forecasts show that countries will fail to achieve even lower levels of hunger in the next nine years, not thanks to the Covid-pandemic. 19.

If rich and developed countries could voice their concern over food insecurity and hunger, then Africa must be in crisis mode, exploring sustainable ways to deal with the growing threats of food insecurity and hunger. . One of the solutions that comes to mind is technology. As with various aspects of human activities, technological innovations have shaped and will continue to shape agriculture.

Despite the African continent holding the largest number of arable men in the world and the agricultural sector employing more than half of the population, Africa is still grappling with the twin problems of food production and food insecurity.

According to reports, Africa occupies a place of continent with the highest percentage of hungry people despite having the most arable arable land in the world. True, we have an abundance of natural resources, but a large part of our economy has always relied primarily on agriculture and subsistence farming.

Covid-19 is an event everyone likes to blame. While it can be attributed to most of the world’s ailments, it may not necessarily be the only factor causing hunger and undernourishment. The current climate crisis has been a driver of food insecurity, but beyond that, conflict continues to be the main driver of hunger, especially among the most vulnerable populations.

Conflicts ravage food systems, accelerate rates of undernourishment and child mortality, destabilize agricultural production, block economic development and forcibly displace communities including children, women, the elderly and / or the disabled. In one of my previous articles on ICT Clinic, I examined the link between low food production and domestic insecurity in the Nigerian context, as well as how technology can be fully harnessed to address these interrelated issues.

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. This has proven to be true in many ways. Coming back to the Covid-19 pandemic, as it has exacerbated the challenges for Africa’s food and agriculture sector and its millions of small farmers, the pandemic has accelerated innovative efforts to develop and unleash power. transformation of digital technology. To what end? In this case, digital tools are being deployed to address agricultural problems in ways that are nothing like past practices and traditional solutions. Consider some of them.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can provide farmers and members of the agricultural value chain with access to real-time data and computing power. which allows for more efficient selection and timing of marketing decisions. .

In case of low yield due to poor soil, farmers can adopt precision agriculture that allows them to optimize and increase soil quality and crop productivity using control systems, robotics, drones, GPS guidance and automated vehicles.

Through wireless remote monitoring and control systems, farmers can gain better control and visibility over the operations of their irrigation systems and make informed decisions on water use, produce chemicals and energy.

Africa’s development path must accelerate at a rate faster than the rate at which its people produce offspring. The continent’s population is expected to double from around 1.3 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050. For Africa to develop, its output growth must exceed this demographic growth. It goes without saying that our current food insecurity and the weakness of our farming systems must be addressed long before. But there is good news.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has said that the agricultural market in sub-Saharan Africa alone will grow from $ 200 billion in 2015 to $ 1 billion by 2030. This equates to five-fold growth. Understanding the numbers and the opportunities that accompany them, savvy entrepreneurs in Africa are developing solutions that allow farmers to increase their yields and improve their storage systems. Others empower small farmers by giving them access to the market and providing them with financial services.

If you were to ask children in their early years what they would like to be when they grow up, you would hear them mention their dreams of being lawyers, doctors, pilots, etc. Hardly will you hear someone tell you confidently that they want to be a farmer. Even as young as children, they understand that certain professions come naturally with glamor.

Before I walk away, a new report concludes that engaging young people in agriculture will be key to Africa’s recovery from the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite their skepticism, many young people see it as a productive livelihood necessary for the growth of a nation.

Interestingly, the survey found that young people are interested in getting into farming, but are reluctant to venture into the field due to a lack of access to farming technology, finance and training to create sustainable businesses and successful careers.

African governments and stakeholders have a responsibility to encourage young people to participate in agriculture by giving them the right support. Technology is an essential tool to drive this transformation.

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