Food security is when every person, continuously has social, physical, and economic access to nutritious, safe and sufficient food. The food must meet their dietary needs and food preferences required for a healthy and active life. Some examples of food security include feeding schemes; soup kitchens; lunch clubs; shelter feeding & lunch packs. Food security is often challenged by factors such as a lack of education; inadequate planning; lack of transparency and improper governance; financing; slow paces in technology development and other governance issues. Improving these factors should contribute to improved food intake and less hunger.
Technology can contribute to the achievement of global food security. There are numerous places where digital technologies have been used to promote food security. Digital technology enables farmers and other people to connect with institutions and information that eventually help in decreasing risk and uncertainty. With access to markets, data, and financial services with the help of specific digital technologies, the efficiency of fertilizing, planting, harvesting, and selling products increases. At present, most of the hunger-alleviation strategies do not prominently feature such types of technologies.
However, due to increased smartphone usage and access to bandwidth, tech is slowing enabling food security.
Farmers Assistant: Cut off from their customers during the lockdown, small-holder farmers were struggling. Restaurants and food vendors were not allowed to operate under the hard lockdown, and these farmers lost their usual customers. That’s when tech entrepreneur Linah Maphanga stepped in. Maphanga is the founder of Farmers Assistant, a technology company that helps small-holder farmers connect to the whole agricultural value chain. During the lockdown, they were able to help farmers on their database find new customers.
The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has developed the first-ever Maize Information Guide app to contribute to food security in the Southern African Development Community region. Commercial and smallholder farmers can download the app from Google Play Store to easily access scientifically proven data on maize production; insect identification and disease management; and weed and nematodes control
A number of these tech services can also be seen in action in various Africa countries like Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia where their local service providers give vegetable farmers real time weather update via short message service (SMS). WeFarm is an organisation for small scale-farmers, and they have taken advantage of using technology to improve how their farmers’ work. They use a SMS system that is supported by artificial intelligence and machine learning to allow farmers solve daily challenges via the SMS based platform. This service helps them find instant solutions to crop diseases, pests and other agriculturally based problems without even being connected to the internet.
TechSoup in Southern Africa has many resources available to assist nonprofit organisations that work in Food Security.
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SharePoint: Microsoft SharePoint is a cloud-resource that allows employees to create platforms wherein they can store, organize, share and access critical organizational information from any device accessible to the relevant parties at all times.
Teams: Microsoft Teams is your hub for teamwork in Office 365. All your team conversations, files, meetings, and apps live together in a single shared workspace, and you can take it with you on your favorite mobile device. Whether you’re sprinting towards a deadline or sharing your next big idea, Teams can help you achieve more.
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These are just a few of the resources that Phambano Technology Development Centre NPC has to offer through our TechSoup in Southern Africa Programme. We believe that successful nonprofits who work in Food Security need more than donations. They need technological solutions to move their mission forward! Contact our team today to find out more.