Challenges facing farming and food security
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing agriculture today, impacting yields at the farm level, altering centuries old farming practices and changing pest and disease patterns,” says Kunal Prasad, Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer at CropIn Technology Solutions. This has also resulted in increasing the levels of financing and insurance required, he adds.
Waste is another huge issue, comments Kunal. In most developing parts of the world, it is estimated that between 30 to 40 per cent of food produced is lost before it reaches the market due to inefficiencies in the supply chain, he says. At the consumer level, the challenge is producing sustainable, healthy, and traceable food, adding another challenge for farming, he comments.
“Food security and nutritional security are also among the biggest challenges, and have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and price increases and logistical problems caused by the war in Ukraine”, adds Professor James Lowenberg-DeBoer, Elizabeth Creak Chair in Agri-Tech Applied Economics, Harper Adams University. In addition, in many places in the world, adds James, changes in foreign policy have created uncertainty for farmers. For example, following Brexit in the UK, there has been a move from subsidy-based agriculture to public money for public goods.
“If food production and sustainability issues can be solved in countries with harsh climates such as the UAE, we are answering the food security questions for the future for most of the parts of the world,” believes Dr Shamal Mohammed, AgriTech Director at Silal. He adds that the cost of production and margins are another major difficulty facing farmers and their survival, particularly when markets are volatile.
Ewan McFarlane, Director at Acuman Limited, sees hybrid seeds as an answer to food security in developing regions, providing greater yields, as well as better tolerance to climate and pests. This frees-up land to grow high-value vegetables, helping farmers move from subsistence to surplus, he says. One challenge, however, is financing hybrid seeds, which are nearly always more expensive than non-hybrid varieties, he adds.