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The role of digitalization in combatting hunger and malnutrition
Published on August 30, 2022 20 min
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EcoSteer 17 min
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Hello everyone. My name is Maral Mahdad and I am an Assistant Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. Today I'm going to talk about the role of digitalization in combating hunger and malnutrition.
Lets start with realizing a bit more of Sustainable Development Goals Number 2 Zero Hunger by 2030. Starting from 2015, the number of human beings suffering from hunger started to increase again, currently around 619 million. Around 9 percent of the whole world population are hungry. If this trend continues, we are far from achieving zero hunger by 2030. 135 million people suffer from acute hunger due to man-made conflicts, climate change, and economic downturns. Therefore, the need for radical change of the global food and agriculture system is undeniable to fight the current hunger crisis and feed their additional 2 billion people the world will have by 2050. One big onus is therefore an agri-food to become more sustainable and productive in its practices to help mitigate hunger and all forms of malnutrition crisis.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations also agrees with this trend. In this vein, FAO recognized digital technologies, information communication technology, and investment on innovative technologies in the agri-food system have positive impacts on rural development and poverty reduction in line with the SDGs. For example, FAO is creating digital innovation ecosystem to gather together UN experts, entrepreneurs, public actors, researchers, and citizen to find innovative solutions for the global agri-food system current challenges. In addition, FAO acknowledges the need to transform current agri-food system toward a holistic food system such as climate-smart agriculture and conservation agriculture. Climate smart agriculture addresses, on the one hand, the reduction of the environmental and climate impact of agricultural activity. On the other hand, the developmental food production methods and crops that are well adopted to changing weather conditions. Conservation agriculture is a farming system that encourages minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of a permanent soil cover, and diversification of plant species. These examples of transformation have direct effect on SDGs. For instance, research by Arouna and colleagues showed adoption of improved rice varieties through adoption of new technologies, increase the income on average around four US dollar per capita and reduce poverty between been 18, 24 percent of small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.