According to IBM researchers, technology will play a much bigger role in improving the food chain in the next five years as part of its 5 in 5 campaign. This role will kick-start as the world’s population gets ready to cross 8 billion, and scientists struggle to curb “the epidemic of waste” that damages 45 percent of the current food supply.
Here are three ways technology might be able to help:
- The Digital Twin – IBM says that within five years, artificial intelligence will be able to accurately predict crop yields for farmers. This data will also make its way over to banks and other financial institutions so that they’re able to distribute credit to farmers to expand future growing endeavors. This is especially helpful for farmers who maybe have trouble getting to a bank, or who can’t leave their land.
- Blockchain – IBM anticipates that blockchain, along with an IoT devices and artificial intelligence algorithms, will help diminish food loss. These technologies, especially when placed in a food supply chain, will help cut out “costly unknowns,” and will help farmers and grocery suppliers alike determine how much food to plant, order, and ship. That way, more fresh food will end up in consumers’ carts, rather than in a landfill.
- Artificial Intelligence – IBM predicts that artificial intelligence sensors – whether they’re placed in an end user’s countertops or smart device – will help detect dangerous contaminants present in purchased food. IBM says that they are actually working on this technology now: they’re “creating powerful, portable AI sensors that can detect foodborne pathogens anywhere and everywhere they might turn up.” Working as mobile bacteria sensors, the technology could “dramatically increase the speed of a pathogen test from days to seconds,” informing consumers, food companies, and others of the existence of E. coli or Salmonella “before it becomes an outbreak.”
IBM also says that it’s working on other technology to help consumers get access to healthier foods, including microbes to ward off bad bacteria on food, and a new chemical process that will make products like milk cartons and other plastics easier to recycle and reuse to make more products. As the world expands, the common denominator to increasing access to safe, healthy food is found in technology.
“When the eight billionth person is born on Earth, she will enter a world more connected, more interdependent and more responsive to change than the one her parents ever imagined,” IBM says. “This is the future that awaits us all.”