Technology can help solve global challenges such as food security
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Opinion: Technology can help address challenges impacting food security

Opinion: Technology can help address challenges impacting food security

The development and adoption of advanced technology is critical to averting negative impacts on our food systems

Tech ology can help address food security challenges by Dr Ray O Johnson

Global calls for action to secure the future of food are rising, and the reasons why are clear. Climate-related events, like destructive floods in Pakistan and extreme drought in the Horn of Africa, have devastated essential crops and agricultural land.

Strains in food supply chains continue to be exacerbated by Covid-19 and conflict. The United Nations estimates that in 2021, 11.7 per cent of the global population – over 923 million people – faced severe food insecurity.

The impacts are staggering. Deciding how to effectively respond can prove just as overwhelming.

These challenges cross international borders and affect individuals, communities, and countries alike. Collaboration must therefore be central to any response. That is why it is now more crucial than ever that stakeholders at all levels, from governments and investors to the research community and private sector, are engaged in finding innovative solutions to tackle global problems.

Technology can offer a solution

With so many challenges, where do we start? I strongly believe that one core area on which we can focus our collective efforts, particularly when it comes to strengthening food security, is technology.

Why do I believe this? Our experience has shown that the development and adoption of advanced technology is critical to averting negative impacts on our food systems as a direct consequence of the climate crisis. In recent years, we have witnessed the development of remarkable innovations that are redefining how we produce food.

Advancements in hydroponics and vertical farming enable fresh vegetables to be grown with less water in some of the world’s most arid climates. AI and robotic solutions help detect inefficiencies and improve agricultural output. Cutting-edge research in plant biology can increase crop resilience.

It is these types of innovations that will fundamentally reshape the world’s agricultural systems. From my vantage point, the possibilities in tech are extraordinary. Proprietary and collaborative research on advanced materials, autonomous robotics, quantum computing, renewable energy, and more can lead to new solutions that push the boundaries of what has been possible up to now.

Leveraging public-private partnerships and innovation

We see the future of technology as an opportunity to help address global challenges. Public-private partnerships focused on catalysing new and improved solutions, across country borders and various sectors, need to continue to be a priority. That is precisely why ASPIRE is the lead partner for the global FoodTech Challenge, organised by the UAE’s Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Tamkeen, which helps startups take their promising food innovations from lab-to-market.

Abu Dhabi is deeply invested in bringing together stakeholders across research, technology, and innovation to find solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, including reimagining our food system.

Institutions that foster collaboration will continue to be at the center of efforts to accelerate promising new ideas through cross-border and cross-sector collaboration.

Dr Ray O Johnson is the CEO, Technology Innovation Institute and ASPIRE.

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