Innovative strategies and technologies not only tackle the issues but also open the door for a more inclusive farming community
The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (the Partnership) is a Georgia, USA-based public-private partnership with a mission of supporting innovation, opportunity, and shared economic success in the state and beyond. Public-private partnerships are often catalysts for change, boosting innovation that serves a broad spectrum of stakeholders – they coordinate with entities such as private corporations, universities, civic organizations, and government institutions to improve access and opportunity with the common goal of developing an innovation ecosystem for growth.
In the case of the Partnership, the organization has recently been focused on supporting applications in the AgTech space, buoying farmers and the broader agricultural community through a number of different projects. The Partnership and others’ efforts help overcome obstacles and pioneer the future of farming. Here are some innovative and inclusive solutions that are impacting each stage of the farming life cycle.
Improving Outcomes in Subsistence Farming
Naturally, the “farm-to-fork” cycle begins with the farmers that are working day-in and day-out to grow produce and raise livestock. The Partnership, in parallel with the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) and the University of Georgia are working to support farmers and their families by investing in digital literacy programs that develop and demonstrate technologies for small and mid-sized farmers. The Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has also developed a robot that can support human-centered tasks such as thinning and pruning fruit trees.
Access to Farmland
The Partnership and the Georgia Working Farm Fund also leverage conservation easements for similar farm preservation. This financing solution developed by the Conservation Fund focuses on ameliorating the rapid loss of critical farmlands in the region by acquiring farmland and placing conservation easements on the land to permanently protect it from development and environmentally harmful practices.
Food to Fork, Faster
After food is processed into consumable products, the chain of logistics required to successfully transport the processed foods can be maddeningly complex. Fortunately, more informed and efficient decision-making is now possible through smart systems such as “robotics, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, analytics, and cognitive technologies.”
Another innovation in farming logistics is adding smart sensors and devices into cold chain transport containers. These help monitor key elements like location and temperature and prevent excess spoilage contributing to industrial food waste. These sensors also allow supply chain managers to monitor their goods while in transport.
The Future of Smart Food
Looking at the agricultural landscape we see a growing number of challenges that make it increasingly difficult to go from “farm-to-fork,” but the Partnership and other organizations are advancing efforts that develop smart solutions in novel ways for shared economic success.
Innovative strategies and technologies not only tackle the issues but also open the door for a more inclusive farming community. Most importantly, when technological innovation is applied at every stage of the food cycle, the entire community reaps the benefits.
For more information on the work that the Partnership advances, please visit here: https://pingeorgia.org/.
Debra Lam, Founding Executive Director, Partnership for Inclusive Innovation
Debra Lam is the Founding Executive Director of Partnership for Inclusive Innovation. This is a statewide public-private partnership committed to investing in innovative pilot projects. She also continues to lead smart communities and urban innovation work at Georgia Tech. She founded the Georgia Smart Community Challenge, the first state-wide effort in the nation that empowers communities of all sizes to become smarter.
Prior to this, she served as Pittsburgh’s first-ever Chief of Innovation & Performance where she oversaw all technology, sustainability, performance, and innovation functions of city government. She crafted the city’s first strategic plan for innovation, Inclusive Innovation Roadmap.
Prior to that, she was a management consultant at a global engineering and design firm, Arup. She has been the recipient of various awards, including one of the top 100 most influential people in digital government by Apolitical.
She has worked and lived in the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of California, Berkeley, and serves on the boards of the MetroLab Network and Neighborhood Nexus.