World Economic Forum Emerging Technologies: Precision Farming
Each year, the World Economic Forum publishes a diverse range of breakthrough technologies, chosen for their potential to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet. These technologies were also chosen for their level of maturity that would enable widespread take-up in the coming 3-5 years. The technologies were selected by the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network and Global Future Councils in collaboration with Scientific American and its Board of Advisors’ (from World Economic Forum, weforum.org, June 26, 2017).
Number 6 on the list is precision farming – using technology innovation to boost crop yield and quality while reducing water and chemical use. Agriculture and food systems have been slow to embrace technology innovations, and yet global food systems will have to sustainably and nutritiously support more than 9 billion people by 2050.
A paper published by the World Economic Forum in January 2018 cites 12 transformative technology applications that could deliver significant impact to food systems by 2030. Some of these applications could be alternative proteins, precision agriculture, biologicals and micronutrients, and off-grid renewable electricity.
However, lower levels of investment and few technology start-ups exist in the food and agro sectors (WEF found that there were $14 billion in investments in 1,000 food systems-focused start-ups since 2010, while healthcare attracted $145 billion in investment in 18,000 start-ups during the same period).
WEF believes that scaling emerging technologies could have a major impact on food systems, and its initiative on Shaping the Future of Food Security and Agriculture explores the potential to apply opportunities and actions found in this paper.
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