At this point, we are 7.6 billion people on Earth and it is estimated that within five years we will cross the barrier of 8 billion inhabitants. The figure is a record and our food chain will have to change radically if we want to sustain this growth (as resources are limited, we will need to find solutions to make the whole food chain more efficient).
Scientists, engineers, scholars, researchers, etc. is working hard to find such alternatives, and IBM already has five such technologies that over a few years should be widely used:
Digital technologies in agriculture will contribute to feeding a growing population, using fewer resources;
How do you give him credit access to a farmer who has never set foot in a bank? By digitizing and capturing all aspects of agriculture, from soil quality to the skills of the tractor driver to the price of melons sold on the market. This is known as Digital Twin, and over the next five years, with AI, we can all use this data to accurately forecast crop yields, providing banks and financial institutions with the data they need to provide credit that to help farmers expand.
Blockchain technology will prevent food waste;
In five years, we will eliminate a large part of the unknowns of the food supply chain. From farmers to food suppliers, each participant in the supply chain will know exactly how much to plant, order and dispatch. Food waste will be greatly reduced, and products that go into consumer trolleys will be fresher – when blockchain technology, IoT devices, and AI algorithms will unite their forces.
Mapping the microbe will protect us from bad bacteria;
Within five years, food safety inspectors around the world will get a new superpower: the ability to use millions of microbes to protect what we eat. These microbes – some suitable for human consumption, others not – are regularly introduced into food on farms, factories and food stores. Thanks to a new technique that allows us to analyze cost-effectively their genetic composition, microbes will tell us a lot about the safety of the food we eat.
AI sensors will detect home-grown pathogens;
Within five years, farmers, food processors and savants around the world, along with billions of people who cook at home, will be able to effortlessly detect harmful contaminants in food. They only need a cell phone or AI sensor worktop. Researchers create powerful, mobile AI sensors that can detect food pathogens wherever they may occur. These mobile bacteria sensors could dramatically increase the rate of a pathogen test from a few days to a few seconds, allowing people across the food chain to detect the presence of E. coli or Salmonella pests before an outbreak occurs.
A new and radical recycling process will give a new life to the old plastic.
In five years, waste disposal and the creation of new plastics will be completely transformed. All items, from milk boxes to crackers, food bags and cheese packs, will be recyclable, and polyester production companies will be able to take over the waste and turn it into something useful. This transition will be supported by innovations such as VolCat, a chemical catalytic process that digests certain plastics (called polyesters) into a substance that can be fed directly into plastic machines to create new products.