Feeding the future of agriculture with vertical farming

Average global food prices have gone up by 2.6 percent annually in the past two decades. If that trend continues, not only does it threaten a baseline quality of life as more disposable income goes toward food, it also threatens our overall food security.

Hunger and malnutrition issues persist, especially in developing countries. Food scarcity problems have also been linked to political unrest and violence. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, record-high food prices in 2008 prompted riots in 48 countries, including fragile states like Somalia and Yemen.

Rising food costs reflect underlying trends leading to failures with traditional agriculture. Vertical farming, a technology-driven model of agriculture, may offer a means to address farm output and food security in the years to come, even if it may not impact food prices in the many months ahead.

Why is conventional farming frustrating us?
Field farming requires labor, amenable weather conditions, adequate sunshine for photosynthesis, irrigation, and often pesticides to protect crops. That hasn’t changed, but we can detect reasons why conventional farming is no longer working as well as it used to by using a framework we developed. While it may appear that the world’s economies are significantly affected by unforeseeable events, the DRIVE framework is based on the notion that certain interrelated large-scale processes, which drive the behavior of businesses, governments, and societies, also influence the future. By analyzing demographic and social changes, resource scarcity, inequalities, and volatility, scale, and complexity, we can forecast how the future may unfold. Analyzed together, these megatrends can reveal the root causes behind the shifts in conventional agriculture.

Read more at Stanford Social Innovation Review (Mark Esposito, Terence Tse, Khaled Soufani, & Lisa Xiong)

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