Can testbeds offer a solution in the agri-food crisis?
The agri-food systems face several crises ranging from socio-economic challenges to climate crisis and the most recent COVID-19 crisis.
But how do these crises affect the food supply?
Disruption to the food supply due to COVID-19 pandemic and due to trade war create an instability regarding food economy and supply. The increase of the global population, a 2.3 billion increase which is estimated at a global stage, combined with the aforementioned factors lead in the enhanced need for development in food production. All these aspects are taking a toll in the agri-food system.
How will testbeds help?
The food security is firmly associated with the sustainable management of healthy ecosystems. Testbeds will allow for the exploitation of novel technologies such as urban agriculture, aquaculture and alternative protein source as potential agri-food tech alternatives. These technologies would allow the growth of greens indoors while utilizing less water and providing more yields on the same footprint of land as the traditional approaches. Testbeds will also allow for the exploration of innovative operations such as high-tech farming to test new approaches and examine the impact they might have on chain synergies.
The development of these alternative methods on a granter, safer scale creates a significant opportunity to resolve the issues that arise as mentioned above.
The extraction and processing of protein isolated from plant sources, the production of protein from cell cultures or the development of microbial proteins from dried cells of micro-organisms, as well as other methods, are approaches in need for further examination. Testbeds enable the relevant stakeholders to innovate, test and establish services and products as solutions in the agri-food business.
Additional benefits of testbeds include reduced time to market and aiding the interested stakeholders who do not have research and development (R&D) recourses to invest in new products. R&D programs can result in reduced cost and enhanced yield. Such initiatives are the Sustainable Hybrid Lighting Project that aims to achieve energy savings of up to 80% by maximizing use of natural sunlight and LED photon emission while simultaneously minimizing heating by the use of a lighting panel and cooling system. Thus, developing a hybrid lighting system that saves energy and is also optimal for crops. Another such approach is the high performance precision agriculture using a rapid, high-throughput and comprehensive plants to agronomic screening platform in order to achieve crop production maximization.
Other promising opportunities as a result of testbeds are the protein quality and sustainability, the decreased food waste and the increase of food safety.
These benefits arise from the innovative food structure and applications offered!