Sustainability In The Food Industry – Four Agricultural Innovations The Game

Sustainability In The Food Industry: By 2050, the global population will reach 9.7 billion. As the population grows, so too, will the demand for food. The sustainability of food production is at stake with climate change being a weighing challenge for global agriculture.

words Ernest Biogore

As the effects of climate change are becoming more and more remarkable, some areas of the globe are already facing rainfall decrease and drought. And most of them are not prepared for the challenge.

From September 18-19, at the Forbes 2019 AgTech Summit, leaders of the agricultural sector reflected on agricultural innovations (being) triggered to face the major issues of the industry. Here are some innovations and agricultural behaviors experts think will change the game on sustainability in the food industry.

Regenerative agriculture

Reportedly, agriculture contributes 14 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions. Literally, farming has been a leading part of the climate change problem. However, this trend could be reversed with the widespread introduction of new farming methods, using more organic fertilizers than devastating synthetic fertilizers. Further improvements to the current state of climate change can also come from rotating crops, planting grasses and reintroducing livestock into crop production systems.

As a result of these, a decrease of about 9bn tons of gases is expected by 2030. This will also lead to a new generation of healthier soil being able to sequester carbon. On these practices, Jay Watson – Sustainability Engagement Manager at General Mills – says they make agriculture greener and protective. “They naturally enhance resources,” he said.

Tech innovations shaping the future of livestock

The global production of meat is higher than 320 million tons per year, while each person in the world consumes an average of 43 kilograms. The industry is constantly challenged with livestock disease, which makes it hard to meet demand. To face the massive death of animals recorded each year and the decrease of production yields, a crowd of startups is coming up with solutions. In Europe, one of them is testing VR glasses on cows to reduce their anxiety and make them produce more milk.

Some, including Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD), focus on preventive aspects, like a technology that allows farmers to detect disease in animals with just a few drops of blood.  AAD CEO Joy Drach said their “focus is on providing the early warning that the livestock industry needs.” Unarguably, farmers can save money if they can detect infectious diseases and prevent other animals from falling sick.

Dairy cattle, a prime issue in Sustainability In The Food Industry

Replacing meat with plants

Love the taste of sausages and hamburgers? Well, the United Nations says that eating less meat can help avoid climate change. A better alternative to traditional meat-based foods is plant-based foods. Companies such as Impossible Foods, Smithfield Foods, and Beyond Meat focus on providing plant-based foods as tasty as meat-based ones. They all have lines of products ranging from plant-based burgers to plant-based sausage and meatballs. Eating more of those will certainly reduce the expanding effects of climate change and at the same time play a nutritious role.

Amid concerns about taste, these companies developed solutions that allow having a charred crust characteristic on their plant-based products, almost as if it was grilled beef. And, these plant-based foods even look and bleed like beef.

Empowering the next generation of farmers

The agricultural workforce is getting older. The average age of a farmer in Africa is 60 and 58 in the United States. There is, therefore, an emerging need for training the younger generation to constitute a dynamic workforce for agriculture. According to experts, one way to engage the younger generation is to focus on urbanization and tech.

More and more industry experts think agricultural programs need to go to cities. Jennifer Sirangelo – CEO of the National 4-H Council – said at the AgTech Summit that we should bring agriculture to the places where people are. Moreover, integrating technology into the game will appeal to more tech skills. Agriculture jobs will then include software development, marketing, engineering, and many more. These positions will be filled with a dynamic and energetic youth that will trigger the new face of agriculture.

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