Implementing and maintaining sustainability in food production, processing and distribution remain a challenge even in the modern day. Technical innovations in the agri-food sector have resulted in the agricultural model based on mass supply rationale, aiming to ensure food security despite the constant growth of the world population. However, this model has led to natural resources depletion, massive rural exodus, and overall impoverishment of farming.
Evidently, there is a need for alternative agricultural models that will allow for feeding billions of people sustainably. And at the core of these models should be local production (shorter supply chains, fair trade, organic farming). For a long time, these principles were neglected due to the lack of threat to underproduce food to “feed the world”. Now, this threat is an acute global issue, since food production will have to increase by 70% to feed the Earth population in the upcoming decades, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports.
So, how does the agri-food industry need to change to tackle this problem while also preserving natural resources? The answer is the engagement of farming with science and technology – precision agriculture. It’s based on the use of satellites, ground sensors, and other tech to monitor and act upon any changes on the farmland, including plant health, soil moisture, weather, and more. Usually, it is based on the analysis of vegetation indices like the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Such a data-driven approach allows for making accurate decisions on the precise amount of products used throughout the growing season, which helps reduce the volume of agrochemicals and mitigate their impact on the environment.
Combining precision farming innovations with the model of local production might be the right way to renovate the agri-food sector to ensure its sustainable development. Let’s get into more detail on “going local” with the help of modern technology.
Returning to Local Production
Going back to local production is becoming a new trend in the agri-food system. And here are the main reasons why:
- Assurance of greater sustainability
- Supply of high-quality products
- Maintenance of local farming
Localized production can also be divided into two patterns based on how it goes. The first one covers local production and trade systems and implies the adoption of different initiatives to support traditional agriculture through the improvement of short supply chains.
And the other pattern concerns marketing of terroir products through different chains and lengths. Almost every region of the world has its specific hallmark in terms of agricultural practices and natural land or climate characteristics. Often, the local farming techniques have resulted in the development of local production with a unique territorial feature. And although local production sustainability is based on many factors, the center element that distinguishes this type of production is the specific value and unparalleled identity of goods.
Now let’s move on to a couple of specific agri-food innovations that can help local growers to ensure sustainable production while not sacrificing the revenue.
Biotechnology in agriculture is a part of organic farming and implies the industrial use of biological processes and agents for the production of highly effective forms of microorganisms, crops, plant tissues, and animals with desired traits. Cultivated crops are subject to the adverse influence of a number of factors like weeds, pests, diseases, and weather conditions, which can significantly reduce the yield and hence the potential profit. Modern ag biotechnology aims to solve these issues by offering the following opportunities:
- Breeding of crop varieties that are resistant to pests and unfavorable environmental factors
- Development of biological means of pest control, the use of their natural enemies and parasites, as well as toxic products formed by living organisms
- Increase in both crop productivity and nutritional value
Modern pace of life leaves people no choice but to seek new ways of saving time on routine, repetitive activities. And one of such is grocery shopping. That is where eGrocery comes into the picture. Not only it allows for saving time on choosing and purchasing food but also provides customers the opportunity to see where their food came from. eGrocery is implemented via online stores and marketplaces which sell and deliver food and beverages.
It could be an online store of third-party-branded food, a farm-to-consumer marketplace, or an online farmers market. Through these platforms, buyers can easily and quickly access all the necessary information on the food they purchase to make fast purchases, considerably saving time on grocery shopping.