End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Our changing world is bringing new challenges that must be overcome if we are to live in a world without hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in any of its forms. Can we achieve Zero Hunger by 2030? It seems like a big goal, especially as experts estimate that food production must grow by 70% to feed 2.2 billion more mouths by 2050. There is no easy way to provide food security, but with careful management across the entire supply chain and with the help of digital technologies, we can ensure enough food for everyone today and in the future.
This year, the UN “The State of Food Security and Nutrition” report shows that the global level of the prevalence of undernourishment has stabilized; however, the absolute number of undernourished people continues to increase, albeit slowly. Consequently, intensified efforts are needed to implement and scale up interventions to improve access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food for all. 2 billion people, or 26.4 per cent of the world population, are experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity. Currently, progress on malnutrition is much too slow to achieve the 2025 and 2030 global nutrition targets. Even though 2.2 billion is a large number, if the world – you and I and every other person on this planet – adopts more sustainable practices, we may be able to ultimately end hunger.
This won’t be easy, especially with the strains that climate change will bring. Half of the extra 2 billion inhabitants are expected to live in sub-Saharan Africa, where harsh climatic conditions retard food production. Famines have become a part of 20th-century history – is there a risk they will return with a vengeance by 2050?
As the planet’s temperature rises, weather patterns change and once rich farmlands with ideal temperatures and abundant rain can dry up and wither. California, a major supplier of food in the United States, has suffered from five years of drought between 2011 and 2017, draining crucial water tables and making the country’s breadbasket unsustainable as food prices rise. What will happen if this drought surges again in the near future?
Some may hope for a technological cure-all, but ending hunger and counteracting disasters, such as droughts, are too complex for easy answers.
Achieving food security depends on a multipronged approach. To start, we need to better utilize the food we produce. It is estimated that upwards of 30% of food is wasted. With limited time to consume perishable foods, better forecasting of demand through the use of Big Data can help deliver products to the right markets. Another option to counter food waste is to provide surplus to those who are hungry. Goodr is an American start-up, using blockchain technology to collect and distribute food surplus in a fresh and safe manner to nonprofit organizations. On average, it delivers available food within 12 minutes, faster than most pizza deliveries. Goodr customers can leverage tax incentives for their donation and save disposal cost while doing good. Based on its pick-up volumes and products, Goodr can also provide valuable data feeds into the demand planning of canteens and retailers.
In addition to reducing food waste, the market’s consumption patterns also need to change. As much as many of us love a medium-rare steak, its production is resource-intensive and not within reach for everyone on the entire planet. Countries that are larger consumers of beef can change their habits to help the world. Doing so will improve our health, save significant amounts of water, and free up land for crops at the same time.
Improving land utilization and agricultural output is critical to success. We have done it before; we can do it again. The move to a three-crop rotation dramatically increased agricultural yields in northern Europe in the 17th century. In essence, in any given year, farmers planted grain in one field, legumes in another, and left the third fallow. The addition of legumes into the mix ensured that nitrogen levels were naturally restored after growing grain, avoiding the mounting concerns about increasing nitrate pollution in groundwaters. Output jumped as a result of this new knowledge.
Mechanization in the 18th and 19th centuries further improved output by increasing the amount of cultivated land. Before, dependence on manual labor greatly limited the size of farms and farmable land. However, mechanization had little impact on yield per acre, which did not improve until after World War II.
Explosive growth in crop yields, as illustrated by corn, began in the 1950s. A large part of this improvement resulted from the introduction of new plant varieties developed through careful breeding. The creation of new varieties is crucial to meeting future food demand, especially ones resistant to changing weather patterns caused by climate change. Many scientists believe that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the only way to adapt fast enough, though concerns persist about potential health and environmental consequences.
With arable land shrinking and without widespread adoption of GMOs, our only hope is to better manage crops using precision farming. Crop yields can be maximized by combining weather forecasts with data from sensors, aerial photos, and soil properties. At the same time, precision farming helps to minimize the application of fertilizer, pesticides, water, and other costly resources and their environmental impact. With the help of real-time sensor data, farmers apply the right amount of fertilizer to grow as much food as possible. Optical sensors on tractors can identify weeds and precisely apply herbicides. By better forecasting weather and local market demand, farmers can optimize harvest times, reduce food waste, minimize environmental costs, and improve their bottom line.
An example of precision farming is provided by a solution SAP developed for Stara S/A, a Brazilian agricultural company that is active in all regions of Brazil and exports to more than 35 countries. Internet of Things revolutionized Stara’s business of manufacturing agricultural equipment. SAP S/4HANA helps farmers use real-time data to apply the exact amount of fertilizer required for each individual plant and then analyze results for increased productivity and minimal fertilizer waste.
New techniques in growing food are showing a lot of promise by helping us rethink the concept of farming. With 70% of the global population expected to live in urban areas by 2050, growing produce in vertical farms is an innovative and weather-independent way to meet local demand. Furthermore, hydroponic gardens are environmentally friendly, cutting greenhouse gas emissions without having to transport foods across a global supply chain and effectively reusing grey and rain water. Recent projects prove these gardens can cost-effectively supplement local diets with selected fruits and vegetables.
The food supply chain will face significant pressure over the coming decades, as the world’s growing middle class makes impossible demands for more meat and dairy. Unfortunately, when demand cannot meet supply, the risk of fraud and other unethical business behaviors increases. On top of that, consumers increasingly expect fresh, safe, and ethically as well as legally sourced food products. To provide consumers with the information they are asking for, Naturipe Farms LLC has partnered with SAP to lead retailers and consumer products companies to improve food safety and reduce waste. The higher level of trust and transparency required between companies is delivered by blockchain technology, which provides an unchangeable and certified data record from farm to fork. Aiming to tightly control the safety of its food supply chain, the French retailer Carrefour S.A. runs a similar approach in cooperation with IBM. The advances in available technology, namely blockchain, allow farmers, consumer product companies, and retailers to proactively provide seamless transparency and visibility of the entire supply chain. The safety as well as the social and environmental footprint of produce is apt to meet consumer expectations.
There is no easy way to provide food security, but with careful management across the entire supply chain and the help of digital technologies, we can ensure a sustainable future of food and enough food for everyone by 2050. As part of our vision and purpose, SAP is proud to be partnering with food manufacturers and farmers such as Stara and Naturipe Farms, so that everyone can eat and live better.
Babi International Corp, a fast-growing breakfast bun company in China, innovated with SAP to tackle one of the food industry’s biggest global challenges: food waste. With SAP S/4HANA, Babi can monitor every stage of the production and delivery process, from the receipt of raw materials to the loading of delivery trucks to the preparation of the final dish. Matching daily inventory with customer demand, Babi delivers exactly the right orders to each of its more than 2,700 stores while avoiding food waste and spoilage.
Waterwatch Cooperative U.A. is on a mission to provide smallholder farmers around the world with essential information about weather, water supply, and crop conditions, so they can make better decisions and support the goal of global food security. Using SAP Cloud Platform and the SAP HANA business data platform, Waterwatch Cooperative worked with SAP to develop the Crop Disease Alert app. For a nominal cost of US$1 per field per year, the app brings together near-real-time actionable information from a variety of sources – satellites, drones, sensors, and farmers – and provides agricultural best practices to users. The data alerts farmers from their smartphones if a given field is in danger – allowing them to act quickly to avert potential disaster. The Crop Disease Alert app is expected to support over one million smallholder farmers by 2019. It is already helping to reduce yield loss due to crop diseases by 40% and cut the use of pesticides by 20%.
Edesia Inc. is harnessing the power of peanuts to feed children and end malnourishment. Since 2010, Edesia has nourished nearly 10 million children in over 50 countries. SAP funded a project to deploy the SAP Business One solution to incorporate all of Edesia’s business operations and data under one main umbrella. As a result, the entire production process became more efficient and effective, enabling Edesia to reach more malnourished people than ever before.
The SAP Rural Sourcing Management mobile app runs on SAP Cloud Platform. It combines mobile and desktop access to track products from farm to factory. The introduction of mobile business apps provides farming organizations with access to important data immediately, in order to simplify and digitalize business processes. The solution covers farmer registration, e-procurement, transportation, geoinformation, traceability, and analytics. Central collection and monitoring of data, such as payments or cashless transactions, open the door to financial services for smallholder farmers. Most Ugandans farm small plots, barely making a living, but the Kalangala Palm Oil Growers Trust is changing that. By supporting local farmers, subsistence farmers are becoming successful entrepreneurs. KOPGT is growing and using SAP software to expand their organizations, improve efficiency, and keep all major players connected digitally.
Welthungerhilfe aims to eradicate hunger and malnutrition worldwide by 2030. With just about 2,500 employees, the German NGO helps millions of people in need by organizing long-term development cooperation projects and delivering rapid disaster relief. To optimize the deployment of emergency first response teams to the poorest regions in the world, Welthungerhilfe has overhauled its employee processes with SAP SuccessFactors solutions.
In the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is crucial for the NGO to identify the people with the right skills, personality, and experience for the job and fly them out within 24 hours as the first immediate disaster responders to save people’s lives and alleviate suffering.
Argentina also gets smarter about sustainable agriculture. Argentina as a country has a longstanding tradition as one of the world’s top suppliers of soy, but it also exports large amounts of wheat, corn, fruits and other crops. This makes Argentina the perfect testing ground for organizations like the Asociacion de Cooperativas Argentinas (ACA), to transform its agricultural sector using innovative new technologies. The new system combines machine learning, geospatial data analysis, and cloud computing to provide farmers with real-time advice and recommendations. As the data platform matures, it will help ACA to better understand the optimal conditions for cultivation on a crop-by-crop basis. The overall objective is to create a modern, digital agricultural system, so farmers can produce more with few resources while being sustainable.
Syngenta, a leading agricultural company, uses SAP Integrated Business Planning to ensure the right amount of product gets to where their customers need it. If they have stockouts, farmers will buy other products. With SAP solutions, the company improved demand planning, forecasting future demand, and producing the right amount of product.
SAP is committed to helping our customers, who produce 78% of the world’s food, innovate and accelerate solutions to address the SDGs 2 and 12. However, no single organization can do this alone. Within the SAP Next-Gen program, SAP continually aims to bring together global leaders from business, technology, civil society and politics. Together, we are to collaborate on addressing food systems and supply chain challenges to ensure a sustainable and healthy food system for all.
To increase awareness and inspire continuous change, SAP is harnessing the power of Big Data. Utilizing technology such as SAP HANA, the Data for Good Initiative is a series of data visualization articles focused on the United Nations’ SDGs. Starting with Goal 2, which is to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture,” these interactive data visualizations are created by analyzing hundreds of complex data sets gathered from government agencies and social organizations. They help to facilitate a data-driven discussion of the SDGs as well as viable solutions, while encouraging readers to interact with the data.