As a complex web of production, processing, transport, and consumption of food, the global food system stands at a critical juncture. Modern agricultural techniques can achieve unprecedented levels of food production. But the fresh produce industry is marred by inequities affecting millions of small-scale farmers and consumers worldwide.
“These disparities manifest in various forms, including market access limitations, unfair trade practices, and an alarming rate of food wastage. Inequities like these have lasted longer than any of us had hoped. But modernization holds the key to a more efficient, transparent and equitable food system that benefits everyone,” says Elad Mardix, CEO and Co-founder at Clarifruit.
Clarifruit offers an AI-powered quality control software for growers, exporters, marketers and distributors across the fresh produce supply chain. Through their latest technology, Clarifruit empowers leading industry players with more accurate, efficient and scalable quality assessment tools, by automating and streamlining quality control workflows.
The plight of farmers: navigating a challenging landscape
While the demand for nutritious food continues to grow, farmers are often at the mercy of a system that undervalues their labour and produce. Limited access to markets, reliance on traditional and often subjective methods of quality assessment, and lack of bargaining power lead to systemic imbalances.
These challenges are compounded by economic, social and environmental factors like climate change and geopolitical shocks. The sharp increase in input costs through 2022 had devastating consequences that agriculture is only now beginning to recover from.
The role of technology in addressing inequities
“Innovation and technology have the potential to address many of the systemic issues plaguing the global food system. By leveraging advancements in data analysis, artificial intelligence, and supply chain management, we can create a more equitable and sustainable agricultural landscape,” states Mardix.
Standardizing quality assessment
One of the critical areas where technology can make a difference is in the standardization of quality assessment. Implementing objective, data-driven systems for evaluating agricultural produce which can ensure fair pricing and reduce the subjectivity that often disadvantages smaller farmers.
Tackling waste and improving efficiency
“Food waste is a monumental challenge, with significant portions of agricultural produce never reaching consumers. Technological solutions can help in better managing inventory, optimizing supply chains, and reducing wastage. These improvements translate into improved financial returns for farmers and a more socially sustainable industry,” explains Mardix.
Empowering farmers with data
Access to data can transform the way farmers make decisions. By providing insights into market trends, weather patterns, and crop health, technology can equip farmers to optimize their yields, improve quality, and gain better market positioning.
Enhancing transparency and fair trade
Transparency is vital for a fair and efficient food system. “AI and Big Data technologies hold the promise to make the entire fresh produce supply chain more transparent, by ensuring that all stakeholders have access to the same information at all times. This leads to more equitable negotiations and fairer trade practices,” states Mardix
These solutions also have a leveling effect, empowering smaller producers to access larger markets. Reliable assessment of the quality of food produced also gives smaller farmers a way to negotiate better terms with accuracy and confidence.
Broader implications: Towards a more equitable food system
“The impact of AI can extend far beyond the immediate agricultural sector. By creating a more equitable food system, we can address broader issues of poverty, hunger, and environmental sustainability. Fair compensation for farmers can lead to improved livelihoods and community development, while reducing food waste helps to lessen the environmental impact of food and agriculture.”
“The challenges facing the global food system are complex and multifaceted, but they are not insurmountable. Through the thoughtful application of technology and innovation, we can transform the way we produce, distribute, and consume food. This transformation requires the collaboration of all stakeholders – from farmers and technology providers to governments and consumers. By working together, we can build a food system that is fair, efficient, and sustainable, ensuring food security for generations to come,” concludes Mardix.