The Internet of Food for the common good


The Internet of Food is for the common good. Digital technologies in agriculture will secure productivity, better crops, better global sales’ synergies and standards to the moaning industry. You see, the world’s population is growing at a shocking rate, with an expected 1.2 billion more mouths to feed by 2030, according to the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the amount of arable land is decreasing, and farmers face mounting challenges. There are ways out…

The Internet of Food for the common good. Are you crazy? Internet of Food?

Do you remember the TV show Star Trek: Next Generation, where they used a replicator to make something out of thin air? One can say that we’re close to this now with 3D printing. Don’t imagine; it is a reality that a German retailer offers Berliners 3D fruit gum sweets and restaurateurs already ask for laser-engraved sushi!

But before we taste “pilot” dishes of 3D pasta, 3D Nutella, and 3D cookies, let me ask you: is 3D printing just a cool fad or is it a strategic instrument to tackle the increasing global food scarcity?

Is it “nice-to-have” thing or is it connected with the #2030NOW #SDG Goal-2 that aims for “Zero hunger” initiatives?

German retailer to offer Berliners 3D fruit sweets. Is this something important?

I do have an answer. It’s not enough on its own. But the real issue is larger: over the last decade world grain reserves have fallen by one-third, and world food prices have more than doubled, triggering a worldwide land rush and ushering in a new geopolitics of food.

By 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion; with an estimated requirement to increase food production by 70% globally to feed an additional 2.3 billion people (explore this subject in the ICT and the Future of Food and Agriculture study produced by Ericsson and Imperial College London).

Internet of Food & Internet society organizations partner

Mankind seems to have exhausted our resources. Intensified cultivation for growth brings biodiversity unbalance. Organizing larger farm sizes for cost synergies leads to quicker land degradation.

Increased food demand means higher energy use and water consumption, plus more waste and more pollution. It seems we need to discuss how to transform the entire food industry and not just what we think about 3D printing!

With this in mind, I find it extremely important that the Internet of signed in 2015 (and now they work on it) the charter letter provided by the Internet (the world’s independent source of leadership for Internet policy, technology standards, and future development). The first Special Interest Group for the Internet of Food!

This affiliation marks the beginning of the important work and cross-industry dialogue we need to have about future infrastructure, distribution, co-creation, safety policies and even food texture and consistency, as well as overall standards for the digital world of food. The group has even started with some interesting ideas, such as 3D printers for food in kitchens!

I see it as an important step for food companies; countries in debt; over-populated cities; families with reduced disposable income; new startups and the whole ICT industry. There’s always hope when people set co-creation platforms for the common good.

Something is wrong with the old Agricultural ways

But when you discuss the technical infrastructure related to food, you can easily realize that Agriculture, the pillar of all, has stayed behind in terms of transformation.

So, before reaching the issue of a global granular ID for food objects, technology is calling for farmers to Change and transform their operations. For three main reasons:

  1. save on land resources and sustainable issues
  2. synergize and produce efficiently without raising their cost-base, and
  3. inducing Change needed to connect them to smart grids and IoT (which is going to be for sure the end-game).

Stimuli to discuss and share

By 2050, the world will need to feed 9.7 billion people. See in this 2016 video Ranveer Chandra, Principal Researcher at Microsoft, as he explains how low-cost technology can make small-scale farming more productive to help meet the challenge of feeding a growing world.

(source: Microsoft research)

Agriculture is not a way of life… Agriculture is a business. So you should hack the farm, to become ‘digital agriculture’ and grow more crops; hack it, as many people currently hack all business models

IoT transforms everything

Agriculture is commonly cited as an industry that has much to gain by harnessing the Internet of Things advantages, with some even saying that it could be the first big industrial IoT market.

Advancements in technology mean that farm equipment, soil, waterways, and even livestock can now be instrumented. This gives farmers the ability to automatically collect objective information about the status of their soil, water, crops, and animals. But the potential of IoT to transform agricultural efficiency, improve financial performance, and boost yield is best achieved when it’s combined with data analytics and machine learning.

Internet of Food and Farms 2020

‘Internet of Food and Farm 2020’ is finally the answer, happening in Europe. It is a large-scale project funded with €30 million from Horizon 2020  to foster a large-scale take-up of IoT technologies in the European farming and food value chain until 2021. It will consolidate Europe’s symbiotic ecosystem of farmers, food industry, technology providers and research institutes. Let’s hope it will!

It is the first lean multi-actor approach focusing on user acceptability, stakeholder engagement, and sustainable business models. Open architecture, reusable for all, and component standards in all, with a security and privacy framework.

Which state has an Agro-change plan in place?

Agriculture will use digital technologies to improve production and sustainability. It will then, grow as an integral part of the smart grids. That said, will alter the depth and the quality of training for future farmers.

In my country, Greece, no official public agenda has been raised for it, proving my alarming thought that programs, opportunities, collaborations, and ecosystems exist to benefit the many, but they’re far out from of the old-logic world.

You know how it goes. Governments prefer to focus on pension systems, the fear of austerity, and the public safety risks from immigration and they neglect that their main responsibility is to drive society in progress and prosperity.

In the coming 10 years whoever decides to stay out of the Transformation wave, will not be able to exist in the new world that sets up currently… Unfortunately!

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