Infertile land

What does ‘food security’ mean?

Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.

Today’s reality

There are many reasons why we are currently falling short of meeting what the UN determines to be a good and sustainable level of food security. The key things to consider are:

  • world hunger within a growing and ageing population
  • effectiveness and efficiency of agricultural processes
  • finiteness of the planet’s fertile land.

Little African girl from Maasai tribe, Kenya, Africa
Over 820 million people are hungry today – that’s one in nine people. Today’s global population is 7.7 billion and is expected to surpass 8 billion in 2023, 9 billion in 2037 and 10 billion in 2055.
Aerial view of Tea fields in China
Agriculture is the single largest employer and provides a livelihood for 40% of the global population. Over 1 billion people who work in the industry produce $1 trillion of food every year.
Farmer walking on infertile soil
One third of the planet’s land is severely degraded and cannot support agriculture. Fertile land is being lost at the rate of 24 billion tonnes a year (that’s over 65 million tonnes a day).

If we can’t manage now, how will we be supported when there are more mouths to feed?

It isn’t an over-exaggeration to say that we live in a time of crisis right now – and things will only continue to get worse unless we’re able to adapt. Something has to give.

While it might be hard to buck population trends or bridge the political and socio-economic factors that influence the world we live in, we can certainly strive for improvement in global agricultural industries, starting with developing our understanding through research.

Robot arm picking cauliflowers

Can technology be the answer to agricultural inefficiency?

Agri-Tech Cornwall projects are a giant leap towards achieving the UN’s targets to:

  • double agricultural productivity
  • double the incomes of small-scale food producers
  • ensure food production systems are sustainable by implementing resilient agricultural practices by 2030.

Agri-Tech Cornwall Automated Brassica Harvesting in Cornwall (ABC) project
Can autonomous robots increase harvesting productivity and still be economically viable? Automated Brassica harvesting in Cornwall (ABC)
FABSoil plant at Eden Project
Are fabricated soils, made from waste and recycled materials, a way to combat increasing natural topsoil infertility? FABSOIL
A plant in the Plant Factory
Can hydroponic systems benefit from high-energy LED technology and a multi-tier ‘vertical farming’ approach? Plant Factory
Speciality Crops project - harvesting seaweed
Can harnessing the UVB protection properties of coastal Cornish crops be a way of combatting skin cancer? Speciality Crops
FIND equipment 
Can we diagnose plant disease early to better sustain crop health? Fluorescence Imaging for Nutrition and Disease (FIND)