Posted on 7/02/2019 by Fay May Su
When you pick up a spoonful of coconut-infused rice with sweet spicy sambal and a chunk of crispy fried chicken melting in your mouth, think of IoT. What has food and the Internet of Things has got in common? The short answer is 'a lot'. From population sustainability and production efficiency trickled down to digital transformation and data distribution, one of the oldest trades has more links to the hot tech than most of us realise.
What’s up with agriculture you’re thinking? Based on IoT Analytics’ report on IoT projects by industries last year, agriculture saw the biggest chunk in the APAC region standing at 31%, overtaking the next prominent IoT activity which is connected industry at 20%. This points to the potential the region has to offer based on the abundance of natural resources. New tech is not solely for the purpose for cultivation, but focuses on improving the industry as a whole, and ensuring it is being sustainably utilised. It is also not about the probability of adopting IoT into agriculture but when it can and will be assimilated. This will be the only way where our need for food supply would be able to keep up to sufficient levels for a global population of 9.6 billion as it's projected to reach in 2050.
Agriculture takes up 70% of the world’s fresh water and IoT can potentially save up to half of this amount. At present, Schneider Electric has teamed up with SCADAfarm, an irrigation and water management company to reduce cost and increase productivity in New Zealand. Information and control is now on the palms than driving around on the fields of Canterbury Plains thanks to IoT. Tech brings stability into a volatile and seasonal market. Though it is not just the efficiency of things such as monitored water but the health of livestock. Water efficiency leading to timely crops equate to happy cows, which provides better breed. Sensors capturing the cows’ activities and behaviours ensure that their health and comfort is optimised so that we can benefit from its produce. These evidently shows that smart farming provides us with better food while simultaneously tackling rapid climate change from over-production.
Now this win-win situation isn’t centred in the manufacturer's world, it spans further in making today's consumer a more informed buyer in the data with less interference and intermediaries, which can be shared by the producer of where and how the food source came about. Consumers are able to make better decisions in sustainable buying which has seen a rising demand for it, at the same time bringing value in purchases on top of driving prices down as a result from efficient farming. Information is beginning to be so important that retail giants like Carrefour have incorporated Blockchain into its food products, inadvertently determining the movements of the agricultural industry from the choices we make.
How about livelihoods of those within the industry and its effects on these occupations? When production goes up, does demand for talent go down? Definitely not as experts often say to that never-ending question. It does not merely give rise to more skilled jobs but aids the shortage of farmers globally. In fact, startups come into play with the opportunities technology can create, even tapping into the issue of limited land in many countries. The misconception is that advancements eliminate mundane roles, when in reality these innovations are supposed to help us do our jobs more effectively, empowering us with information to have more control.
Our experiences and knowledge don't go to waste as they set the foundation for us to adapt quicker into new inventions. When change is constant even for younger industries and newer companies, our role should be to get excited with what has yet to be discovered. So the next time you take a bite on something, give the food a thought.
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