Information technology multinational IBM predicts that technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and cloud, will help to transform the global food chain over the next five years, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software senior VP Arvind Krishna says.
Within the next five years, the worldwide population will surpass eight-billion for the first time. IBM researchers worldwide have developed five solutions to improve the food chain and food security. These solutions were unveiled at the IBM Think 2019 conference, held in San Francisco, US, in February.
The first solution focuses on seeds and agricultural digital twins – virtual representations of farms populated with operational data – that will provide the data with which AI systems can accurately forecast crop yields.
“Digitalising and capturing all aspects of agriculture – from the quality of the soil and skills of the tractor driver to the price of the melons sold at the market – will provide data points that lenders can use to extend credit to farmers and will help feed growing populations using fewer resources,” says Krishna.
Blockchain will prevent more food from going to waste, he adds, noting that, within five years, it will be possible to eliminate many of the unknowns in the food supply chain.
Using blockchain, IoT and AI will enable each participant in the supply chain to know exactly how much to plant, order and ship. Food loss will diminish and the produce that ends up in consumers’ carts will be fresher, notes Krishna.
Further, genetic analysis of microbes found on food – some safe for consumption, others not – using cost-effective techniques will ensure food safety. These microbes are regularly introduced into foods at farms, factories and grocery stores.
“Analysing microbiomes will tell us a lot about the safety of what we consume and help to protect us from bad bacteria,” he explains.