According to the UN study, the 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects, an additional two billion people will be added to the global population by the year 2050, increasing the total from 7.7 billion to approximately 9.7 billion. Future food systems will have to deal with feeding this growing population while using the same resources that are available today, with the additional stress caused by climate change and environmental degradation. Furthermore, the impact of the Covid-19 situation causes many countries to use measures to limit agricultural and food exports in order to maintain sufficient stock for domestic consumption. In some areas, measures to control goods transportation and the cessation of airline and port services will also be available. It has contributed to global increases in transportation costs as well as agricultural and food product prices. That’s why there is a need for a major transformation of the food system on a global scale.
The study Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems, published in January 2019 in The Lancet, presented the term “A Great Food Transformation” to refer to the significant dietary shifts and sustainable food production systems. This study recommended several strategies for achieving them, including generating support from foreign and national governments for an overhaul to a more plant-based diet, especially for young people, and encouraging the use of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. In addition, the calories must be sustainable over the long term so that a growing population will not experience food shortages. Also, solid and coordinated governance, as well as international and local commitment are required to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals of halving food losses and waste.
One of the practical tools to transform our food systems is agricultural technology or “agritech.” The portmanteau term that refers to a collection of agricultural technologies refers to a variety of tools that aid in accelerating yield, production, and consumption. Agritech encompasses a wide range of applied-based concepts, ranging from agricultural technology like hydroponic growth, seed preservation, and advanced weather forecasting to applied businesses like drone fertilization and propagation.
Agricultural technology is critical when discussing the topics of food security in the Middle East. Food availability by itself does not generate economic activity, but other conditions such as affordability and marketability of produce must be in place to help create growth. To summarize, agritech investment is expected to reduce foreign food imports while increasing food exports and promoting Gulf food security through commercial enterprise.
For example, in Bahrain, the Ministry of Agriculture announced a major initiative to invest in aquaculture, which would improve the archipelago’s unparalleled fishing opportunities heavily. The Southern Governorate uses private fish farmers to assist with the regularization, regulation, and promotion of local produce. Meanwhile, in the UAE, the “Agriculture and Food Tech Team” was created to harness new technology in the agricultural sector. Food security and commercial viability are the main drivers behind this. Thus far, the team has served as a meeting ground for aquaculture, poultry production, and fruit and nut producers to discuss the future rice cultivation in Sharjah, with staple food being given a focus.
For those interested in agritech, food transformation tools, or looking for business opportunities in the future food industry, don’t forget to visit Asia’s key F&B trade fair, THAIFEX-ANUGA ASIA 2021 “The Hybrid Edition,” a combination of the online show called “THAIFEX Virtual Trade Show (VTS)” and physical event in response to the demands of the Thai food industry in establishing valuable relationships in the new normal era. The transformation process of the food industry is particularly reflected in the food trends and focus themes of the trade fair this year. This event will demonstrate that the food and beverage industry is encountering the challenges of transformation with new approaches and innovative products. The megatrends include the themes of sustainability, health, and digitalization. The trade fair aims to establish an international business network and provide a platform for international communication, assisting the food and beverage industries in their mission to sustain and grow successfully.
THAIFEX-ANUGA ASIA 2021 “The Hybrid Edition” is scheduled for 29 September – 3 October 2021.
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