By the looks of it, the global food-supply chain hinges on just one country. Like other outdated systems of production currently breaking down as a result of years of pandemic and geopolitical recalibration, the way we produce and distribute food needs radical change. Ukraine, Russia and Belarus are major food producers that are facing a deep crisis as a result of the conflict in the region. The International Monetary Fund said last week that this food crisis will have a dramatic effect on the global economy.
In February, a global initiative called the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate led by the United States and the United Arab Emirates kicked off an US$8 billion effort to make farming cleaner and more efficient. The initiative will focus investments in agricultural technology (agtech) areas such as nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, robotics and artificial intelligence.
This initiative is key, but rich countries throwing money at the problem and reinforcing the existing supply chain alone is not going to solve the situation in the long term. At best, it will be a temporary measure to stop immediate suffering, but a solution is going to require much deeper thinking.
Production levels and prices will eventually stabilize, but this moment of crisis is the perfect catalyst for a revolution in how food is produced and distributed. Just like electric vehicles are a sustainable alternative to oil shocks and climate crises, agtech holds the answer to solving the problem of food shortage. The challenge is that many of the startups driving the sector forward still lack the critical investment and mainstream acceptance needed to transform food production.
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