GLOBAL - Agriculture must become 'smarter' by taking advantage of modern technology and data in order to feed the world, according to a report presented by Rabobank at Expo Milano 2015.
"A smarter food system is more productive, less wasteful, and more profitable," explained Fred van Heyningen, Global Head Food and Agri Banking at Rabobank.
"It combines technology and data to change the way, as well as the speed, at which decisions are made and to optimise the use of resources to produce and deliver the food consumers need and where they need it."
By 2025, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation anticipates a 30 per cent increase in global daily food demand, requiring a more efficient, resilient and profitable food system.
The research, entitled 'Building a Smarter Food System', makes clear this is not achievable through a 'business as usual' approach.
Instead, the combination of technology, big data, and more advanced algorithms represents a powerful opportunity to improve outcomes. Rabobank believes a smarter food system could offer productivity gains of at least 5 per cent across a number of sub-sectors, supply chain stages and regions.
"Technology automates the way things happen, big data tells us what is happening, algorithms translate that data into decisions, adding speed and accuracy to food production, processing and distribution," explains Justin Sherrard, Global Strategist at Rabobank.
"Success will depend on disruptive ideas that investors are willing to back. The good news is that the move to a smarter system is already beginning to take shape."
The research identifies technology use in farming, processing, and logistics, where tangible steps are already being made towards creating the industry of the future. Examples include:
- Drones: Increasingly used to monitor and boost livestock and crops, and measure pasture and grass growth.
- Big Data: Using data to track purchases, and monitor the quality of perishable goods, enabling them to meet consumer demand more effectively. Weather, soil and other data can help farmers improve yields.
- Poultry production: Processors can monitor the performance of poultry farmers, and greater control over poultry hatching, production and processing can boost productivity and profitability up to 5 per cent.
However, Rabobank said that the smart transition is not inevitable, and identified three keys to meeting demand:
- Strengthening supply chains through greater connectivity between buyers and suppliers, sharing data and making joint decisions in real time.
- Enabling investment through support from both investors and regulators.
- Achieving societal acceptance and public support by addressing issues such as genetic modification and cloning, and data privacy, food waste and nutrition.