As the climate changes & COVID exposes the fragility of food systems…what is the role of TECH and AI and can TECH help save food systems?
What the Fork is a webinar series that will explore some of the key movements in the rapidly changing food systems landscape. This first series is running in the lead up to the Build Back Better Hackathon organized by Impact Hub Kings Cross London in the UK. What The Fork webinar series is an initiative of FeedingCities.
COVID-19 has laid bare the pre-existing inequalities and fragilities in our food systems. The food impact of the pandemic has disproportionately affected the already marginalised, particularly along the lines of gender, race and class. Many jobs have been lost, food prices seem set to increase and industrial agriculture is being questioned amid accusations that it helps create conditions for zoonotic diseases to spread.
Beyond the pandemic, we face worsening climate and biodiversity emergencies and an obesity crisis. Yet there are reasons to be hopeful. Responses to COVID-19 have reinforced the power of building community resilience and the critical value of ‘key workers’ producing, preparing and delivering our food. There is a growing appetite to transform and reimagine our food systems.
About this Session
- Nicole Thorpe is a founding Director of Cultinova / Experior Micro Technologies. Her mission is to leverage ICT and Internet of Things technology to contribute to improving the way we produce and consume our food, design our cities and look after our health and the environment around us. Her core interests surround sustainability and well-being in urban areas, with healthy food systems, green infrastructure and citizen engagement being her prime drivers. She is a steering and advisory board member of several industry associations, including the vertical farm institute (Vienna) as well as The Farm Tech Society (Brussels), member of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities, a founding and advisory board member of the UK Urban Agtech collective UKUAT and SMART urban agtech in Singapore. Nicole is currently the UK lead of CRUNCH, an EU-funded sustainable cities project involving 16 partners from 9 countries.
- Mateja Kramar works as a senior advisor on Sustainability in Agriculture & Food Industries at Microsoft and is also a serial entrepreneur.In her role at Microsoft she has the aim to help farmers achieve more and become more sustainable with the help of technology. Key to this is their Swiss Smart Farming initiative, a cooperation between Microsoft, Verein Agricultura Regeneratio, Farm21 and many more.
With over 80% of all food globally coming from small family farms there is a need to help them produce more with less, rise the quality of soil, become climate friendly and make their life and work easier. Microsoft seek to achieve this with online education about regenerative farming practices, helping them digitalize and use sensors & applications. In parallel they are collecting satellite data, data collected by drones, AI and augmented reality to create even better predictions. By collecting data, analyzing it, translating it and turning it into useful parameters, farmers will be able to predict better, integrate alerts, grow healthier crops, use less resources, waste less food and improve their sustainability.
It is their belief that the pioneering farmers who are implementing technology supported regenerative farming are the best influencers to encourage other farmers to follow, learn and implement technology and regeneration of the soil as soon as possible. The more data they collect – the faster it may be possible to develop machine learning and smart solutions for easier, better and more sustainable agriculture.