September 13, 2017 | By Andrew Mack

Guest Commentary - Strengthening Our World at the Roots: AgTech and Opportunity in a Time of Change

This piece was originally posted on Agri-Pulse

By Andrew Mack, Principle, AMGlobal Consulting

Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the US agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.

Our world is at a crossroads.  Three issues – Employment, Migration, and Health – are set to shape the next ten years of the global economy. These are not future themes or issues where inaction is even possible, but current crises affecting people around the world, especially in the global south. To address each one of them we will need new solutions, enabled by technology.  For each of these three meta-issues, agriculture is at the center.  And for US agriculture and agtech companies, there should be big benefits.

The need for jobs may be the single biggest issue we face around the world — “the climate change that can’t be denied”, according to Jonathan Zuck of the Innovators Network. It is a core issue for every country and immensely acute for fast growing developing nations.  Mechanization and machine learning are set to make old skills obsolete, while population is rising, with more people coming into – and staying in – the global workforce.  Between 10-12m people join the African labor force every year, but the continent only creates 3.7 million jobs according to the African Development Bank.  Improving the viability of small-scale agriculture, the world most popular job, is crucial to our global economic success.

Hunger is a primary cause of migration around the world, and though trends are improving in major countries like China and India, nearly 795 million people are still chronically undernourished globally according to the UN FAO.  Concerns about climate change and extreme weather add to long-term trends of migration from farms to cities, which have led to some real social instability.  There are over 244 million migrants worldwide, many of them fleeing hunger in countries from Somalia, to Yemen, to Nigeria, and Haiti

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The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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