Technology seen as panacea to address food insecurity

March 10, 2017 4:18 pm8 comments

SAP headquarters

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – AN industry executive has urged governments and stakeholder in the continent to embrace technology to address severe threats threatening food security in the continent.
African food security is under threat from a confluence of climate change, severe drought, water scarcity and lately, a destructive fall armyworm invasion.
Millions are already beset by hunger while millions more are on the verge amid inclement weather in many parts of the continent.
Lawrence Kandaswami, Managing Director of SAP South Africa, says there are technology tools at hand to help solve these problems.
“Smart Farming solutions will become the cornerstone of global food production over the next decade,” says Kandaswami.
He says by using cloud-based computing, big data, analytics, and internet of things (IoT) devices, and bringing together key industry players, they are able to deliver new innovations across the entire agricultural ecosystem to boost food production in a sustainable manner.
In 1950 Africa’s population of 229 million people accounted for just 9 percent of the world’s population.
In 2015, less than 3 generations later, Africa’s 1,16 billion people account for 16 percent of the globe’s 7,3 billion people.
By 2050, Africa’s population will have more than doubled to 2.4 billion people. In addition, two-thirds of Africa is arid or semi-arid, and 38 percent of people in sub-Saharan Africa live in a water-scarce environment.
A Kandaswami point out this creates enormous challenges in terms of food security.
“In fact, the Africa Union Commission recently highlighted the fact that, at current growth rates, by 2050 Africa will only be able to feed 13 percent of its population with its own resources. There is an urgent need for a radical overhaul of agriculture and food production on the continent.”
African farmers are currently battling a plague of fall armyworms, a type of caterpillar that eats crops before turning into a moth.
Southern Africa, which has suffered the most of the outbreak, has also recorded two years of record drought that has already affected more than 40 million people and reduced food supply by 15 percent.
“The sheer speed and scale of the infestation is likely unprecedented,”says Kandaswami.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, it took only eight weeks for the pest to spread to six African countries where there are suspected infestations, namely South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique.
“And since it targets maize – a primary food staple in many of the affected areas – the region’s food security has been put at tremendous risk.”
SAP’s Smart Farming solutions are built on a number of key technologies, including the S/4HANA Cloud Platform, big data analytics, IoT (especially mobility and telematics) and applications that provide the capabilities required to drive more efficient and effective agriculture.
CAJ News


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