Agriculture in the Technology Age

Food insecurity is a global problem. Data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that 820 million people are now undernourished. Although the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in lower-and-middle-income countries, about 11 million reside in developing countries. In Canada, about 1 in 8 households — more than 4 million people — struggle to get enough to eat each day.

For decades, the number of hungry people in the world had been declining, but the trend has reversed in recent years. The causes are many and complex — ranging from poverty and war, to government policy and climate change. Technology cannot address every one of these factors, but it can make agriculture more efficient, less wasteful, and better able to adapt to climate change. Technology offers new ways to make every level of our food systems more sustainable.

Here in Alberta, this is already happening. We’re seeing advancements in genomics and real time sensor data, combined with the far-reaching zero waste movement, driving a wholesale redesign of food production and processing systems. This is turning labour intensive farm-to-fork supply chains into high-tech agricultural production hubs designed to feed more people using a smaller footprint.

This research has wide-reaching implications for the economy, food security, and environment here in Alberta. But food security is a global problem and the work done here has the potential to help other regions in the world make similar changes.

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