When it comes to food, tech isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind. However, technology has changed how we produce and find our food through applications, robotics, data, and processing techniques over the years.
Technology today is allowing us to track, analyze, and understand the way our food system works to help reduce the amount of food waste and carbon emissions, and ultimately, feed the millions of people who don’t currently have enough to eat.
Such advances within agriculture have made a tremendous contribution to the lives of every human being in the world today, both economically and socially. It is not just an industry; it is the foundation of our civilization.
Currently, Kenya ranks amongst top Africa countries in terms of digital readiness in the agriculture sector. The term technology is broad and is defined as the collection of techniques, skills, methods, and processes in the production of goods. The technology required to be food secure is country-specific. It depends on the physical environment, infrastructure, climate, culture, literacy, economic conditions, and governance.
COVID19 has caused tremendous disruption in the agriculture sector from planting to distribution, calling for new ways in which agricultural operations can overcome such in the future. Here are some of the critical subjects in which FoodTech can support jobs and productions in the country if fully adopted.
Technology can provide a distribution system. The introduction of lockdown and curfews in the country has seen people think of ways to do their shopping without being on the wrong side of the law—many opting for e-commerce.
Online shopping has gained a significant boost from the ongoing measures to curb the spread, with some shops like Gobeba recording a 200 percent increase in grocery sales.
Eateries have resulted in partnering with e-commerce service providers in a bid to reach their customers. For instance, Java House partnered with Uber Eats, Jumia Food, and Glovo to deliver ready meals to customers. The increase in demand for deliveries has directly called for increased employment slots in the logistics companies.
FoodTech can play a role in trade promotion. In a country that imports almost 90 percent of its rice, 75 percent of its wheat, and 10 percent of maize, trade facilitation is crucial. Technology will be of great help in cargo tracking, health checkups of staff, and screening. The use of applications can facilitate this.
FoodTech can help the country improve the yields, employ more farmers, and attract more revenues. The availability of data commons able to share daily reports of production, logistics information, and early warning weather systems will enable the sector to make necessary preparations to counter the prediction and evade socio-economic loss. More people will be trained to secure such jobs.
Leveraging and scaling up FoodTech can create win-win situations, by not only helping address food insecurity but also tackling growing unemployment rates in the country. These new technologies can thus support a resilient food value chain in a post-Covid world.
Notably, technologies used in achieving food security should ensure high-quality food products. Low food quality exposes the population to poor nutrition and food safety issues, which, in turn, creates a burden on society and affects overall socio-economic well-being.
Issue of quality should be taken into account when making choices about types of staple crops, post-harvest practices, and processing and packaging of finished products that are safe for consumption.
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