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How AI Can Help Alleviate the Global Food Security Crisis, Part 1

September 20, 2022

supplu-chain

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Agro&Food Security Forum in Warsaw, Poland. The event gathered government representatives of Ukraine and Poland, leading Ukrainian experts and market operators, as well as the international agricultural community. This is a new and very important platform for the global dialogue in the search for effective solutions to ensure global food security.

 

Recent reports from the UN state that the world is not on track to reach its goal of zero hunger by 2030. As many as 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021, including 46 million people more than a year earlier and 150 million more than 2019. If recent years have shown us anything, it is how fragile the world’s food and agriculture systems are. Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing supply chain disruptions and geopolitical events, like the war in Ukraine, the future of global food security is at risk.

 

Experts from all over the world gathered to discuss factors shaping the agricultural market of Ukraine and the world in 2023-25, including production and export of commodities, formation of new logistics corridors and new ways of cooperation to prevent the food crisis. I had the opportunity to share how Enterra is uniquely positioned to help solve the food security problem through autonomous and intelligent enterprise-grade AI.

 

Here are a few of my biggest takeaways from the event:

 

Companies and Governments Need to be Systemically Competitive and Resilient

 

A major discussion item at the event was Ukraine’s wartime export logistics and trading regulations and challenges facing agricultural producers in the region. The war in Ukraine has essentially fueled a global food crisis. It has disrupted agriculture exports from Russia and Ukraine, two of the biggest producers of grain, accounting for 24% of global wheat exports by trade value, 57% of sunflower seed oil exports and 14% of corn from 2016 to 2020. However, it’s just one factor in a limitless number of variables impacting the food value chain — and “limitless” is not a hyperbole. These variables include human experience factors, socio-economic drivers, and potential actions from each market participant.

 

We see consumers change their preferences all the time through nutrition, wellness, and health trends that are constantly evolving. Socio-economic drivers also play a role in our society, like the COVID-19 pandemic, which impacted almost every aspect of our life, through product shortages, increased gas prices, and widespread supply chain disruptions. On top of all of this, there are actions each market participant takes because of the aforementioned factors that add another layer of complexity. These actions can include changing prices, updating assortments and more – all of which are outside an organization’s control.

 

In my session, I explained why companies and governments need to become systemically competitive and resilient to all of these variables. I also highlighted how advanced enterprise AI platforms like Enterra can help decode and navigate complexity in an increasingly uncertain and competitive business landscape.

 

Building Global Agriculture Value Chain and Food Security Capability

 

In furtherance of building a Global Agriculture Value Chain (GACV) and Food Security capability, that spans Farm-to-Fork and encompasses the consumer-packaged goods and retailer sectors, Enterra Solutions® recently hired Dr. Vladyslava Magaletska as a Senior Advisor for Food Security and Global Agricultural Value Chain. Based in Warsaw, Vlada will assist me in the development and implementation of specific GAVC optimization and decision-making capabilities in global food security and business resiliency applications for commercial sector entities and governmental agencies.

 

She has deep expertise in this area with over 15 years of extensive experience in agricultural policy and business. She has worked with global entities, including the World Bank, International Finance Corp., and the European Union. Prior to joining the Enterra® team, Vlada served as the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture of Ukraine and Head of the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection. She also served as the Vice Minister of European integration for the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine. Given my interests and Vlada’s background, the Forum provided an excellent opportunity to discuss how autonomous and intelligent enterprise-grade AI platforms can solve for some of the biggest challenges in agriculture. Because of ongoing consequences of the Ukraine war, the primary focus of the Forum was helping Ukraine remain a global breadbasket country.

 

Improving the Global Agriculture Value Chain

 

Since Enterra works primarily in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector, we understand the importance of global agriculture value chains for our clients and the retailers & customers they serve. We also believe that the effective use of AI solutions, like the Enterra Global Insights and Decision Superiority System™ (EGIDS™), can help organizations in global agriculture value chains plan and execute more effectively.

 

EGIDS is poised to transform the global agriculture and consumer goods value chain. It leverages advanced glass-box mathematical analysis, powerful non-linear optimization, and human-like reasoning that helps businesses make subtle, nuanced decisions and explain, in natural language, why those decisions were made. As I mentioned during my session, these capabilities are of utmost importance for the future of the agriculture industry and ensuring global food security.

 

In the agriculture space, if a supply or demand imbalance goes undetected, multiple unfortunate consequences can occur. For example, when raw ingredients experience shortages or sell out, businesses may need to pay more for the raw ingredient or find alternative sources or alternative ingredients to produce the end customer product – likely at a higher price and with a delay to consumers. In extreme scenarios, it could even lead to the business’ inability to produce and deliver its product to the end customer entirely.

 

EGIDS and Enterra’s industry-leading Autonomous Decision Science™ (ADS™) technology help businesses generate unparalleled insights and see beyond the horizon, proactively overcoming supply and demand imbalances. Enterra also provides products and analysis that help improve understanding of current vegetation health, underlying environmental conditions (i.e., soil moisture) and eventual impacts on yield. This means fewer surprises, better decisions and happier customers.

 

Concerns for GAVC and Food Security Caption the Attention of Global Organizations and Corporations

 

Unfortunately, record high prices are threatening to erase years of momentum in global food security. The war in Ukraine, and the continued economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are at the center of the problem. The good news is businesses can help change the tide by implementing autonomous and intelligent enterprise-grade AI platforms like Enterra that better navigate the multi-dimensional nature of the food value chain.

 

After leaving Warsaw, I am spending the next week in meetings across the Middle East and then in Europe for few more days, where I am meeting with sovereign wealth funds and global agriculture, food manufacturing, CPG manufacturers and retailers discussing the effect of uncertainty on the GAVC and Food Security and the competitiveness and resiliency of organizations in this sector. If the first two days of conversations hold for the balance of the trip, I would say that these issues are top of mind for these organizations and the systemic need to build resiliency and security in the backdrop of massive concerns for climate change management is absolutely critical. New technologies and management practices will be needed to build resiliency and reliability within a GAVC and Food Security ecosystem of nations, growers, manufacturers, retailers, logistics providers and consumers of all kinds.

 

We hope to play a small leadership role in this most critical truly digital transformation and I’m proud to be a part of the solution that’s empowering businesses and governments to help tackle this important issue. However, Enterra is just one piece of the puzzle. I was humbled to speak alongside so many experts that are working to ensure global food security and helping solve the biggest challenges for Ukrainian agricultural producers.

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