Analysis: Could AI Ease Food Security Fears?
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), by 2050 the projected world population is expected to be 9.1 billion; to meet this demand, global food production must increase by 70 percent.1 However, crop diseases are a major threat to food production and global food security, carrying the potential to destroy whole crops if left untreated. It is estimated that almost 40 percent of worldwide crops are lost to diseases.2
Furthermore, climate change is having a significant impact on plants, making them more susceptible to infectious diseases. It also increases the risk of spread and propagation of diseases, which could potentially lead to reductions in yield and unfavourable consequences for the environment and public health.
Crop losses tend to be the greatest in tropical countries where the environmental conditions are conducive to crop diseases. Those in less-developed countries are at greatest risk of large-scale crop losses due to lack of knowledge and inadequate technical support in effective crop disease diagnosis and control measures. Farmers use excessive amounts of chemical substances such as pesticides in an effort to protect crops from diseases; however, because they are not aware of precisely where or when to spray, this causes long‑term damage to environments and human health. In addition, disease losses can also mean more imported – and often processed – foods are eaten, replacing a balanced diet, which can create further health problems.