World Food Day on October 16th is focused on raising awareness about hunger, malnutrition, sustainability and food production. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has chosen the theme of “Celebrating Food Heroes” for 2021 in which all of us can be #FoodHeroes by the actions we take on a daily basis. Some sobering statistics that offer ‘food for thought’:
- Almost 40% of the world’s population cannot afford a healthy diet.
- The world’s food systems are responsible for more than 33% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- 14% of the world’s food is lost due to inadequate harvesting, handling, storage, and transit, and 17% is wasted at a consumer level.
- The world’s agri-food systems is the largest employer with over 1 billion people depending on agri-food systems for their livelihood.
Our daily food choices impact on the demand for food production and how it is produced, our own nutrition for better health, our environment on where, how and when our food is grown and our own lives now and into the future given the impact agriculture has on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon capture in the soil.
2021 has proven to be a particularly challenging year with COVID-19 impacting on food production, access to farm labor and markets, and value chain logistics that have made stocking shelves a challenge. In addition to this, climate change has resulted in increased weather variability that has made farming even more difficult than it has been in the past. This has resulted in reduced production of corn in Brazil resulting in lower yields for farmers and higher prices for consumers across our global economy.
To confront these challenges, we can leverage digital technologies to give us visibility to our food habits through a range of mobile apps, local weather trends and forecasts that can help farmers adapt to climate shifts and weather variability. Additionally, remote sensing can help us track the use of natural resources like water and soil management to incentivize sustainable crop production through market certification and government policies that enable sustainable, nutritious, and accessible food for all.
At aWhere, we focus on providing farmers with accurate observed and forecast weather to deliver timely and actionable recommendations to farms across the world. Localized weather empowers farmers to make better operational decisions to increase their crop production, reduce the risk of crop failure and ensure crops are planted and harvested at an optimal time to increase production and quality of produce for consumers. Our goal is to empower smallholder farmers in emerging economies be their local #FoodHeroes for their communities.
We have also had fun this year growing our own vegetables on a 1-hectare farm in Colorado, USA. We grew six different varieties of tomatoes, four varieties of potatoes as well as ancient corn varieties, peppers, carrots, squash, pumpkins, cabbage, watermelon and four varieties of sunflowers. While we enjoyed fresh vegetables, we also shared our bounty with a local food back.
COVID and climate change pose a significant challenge to our food system but by doing our part as #FoodHeroes in our community we can contribute towards a sustainable food future.