Famine and hunger have plagued the mankind and safety throughout the history and remain critical problems. Food security has now attained the burning issue status in today’s world. ICT on the other hand is emerging and its use is being recognized and application of decision making tools has been anticipated to be the last jigsaw for the puzzle.
Food security is defined as the availability of food and one's access to it. . The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing "when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life". Stages of food insecurity range from food secure situations to full-scale famine.
FAO reported that almost 870 million people were chronically undernourished in the years 2010-2012. Asia has the largest number of hungry people (over 500 million) but Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence (24.8 percent of population) and the vast majority of hungry people (827 million) live in developing countries, where 14.3 percent of the population is undernourished [FAO, 2013]. This suggests the need of sustainable measures that can address the problems and barriers and at the same time provide us the way to approach the global plague due to famine and hunger. The role of ICT seems imminent and inevitable in today’s world. The right approach hasn’t been determined but the best possible solution that could address the problems in short time and in a global way seems to be the use of ICT and decision making tools in today’s world.
A systematic monitoring of world food supplies is a necessary step to address food security. This includes mapping agricultural production and food shortages and establishing comprehensive databases. Monitoring can be greatly facilitated by ICT and decision making tools, through remote sensing of agricultural and water resources, use of computers and software to collect, analyze and share information that is relevant to food security. Geographic information systems also provide powerful tools for analyzing statistics.
Food security is the major problem of developing countries and role of ICT and decision making tool starts from such countries and regions. One example is DreamWork Solution that is providing database cloud based software for making precise decision making tool for food security and nutrition status in Nepal. The decision making tool has the objectives set to prepare database of collected household information, generate reports showing the deficit quantity of nutrition in specified location and compare the food availability status of different wards under VDC or municipality. The DreamWork Solution will develop cloud based software as its major framework.
The working methodology of the decision making tool will involve the profile collected by VDC/Municipality having basic information of agriculture like major crops, area of cultivation, annual production, major livestock and productions that will further be made available for data entry. The daily requirement of calories for residing population will be calculated by using the software. The total availability of calories from the agriculture production of that area will be calculated and balance will be checked. Among the different components of food security only food availability component will be analyzed. Moreover, protein, carbohydrate, fats, etc will also be analyzed and the wards deficit in particular components will also be studied and finally a decision making tool will be developed. A final decision can be made like which crop or program is to be developed in order to address the problem.
The decision making tool will allow to generate comparative reports showing which ward is suffice or the one which is deficit, showing reports of nutrition status, component deficit and which disease may prevail thereby and ultimately a precise and decision making ability incorporated within the report which addresses the deficit food component via program, crop or a commodity .This is not merely a concept but has been started in Sunkoshi VDC of Sindhuli district in Nepal and the software based solution is also being planned to be implemented in each and every VDCs of Nepal so that overall food security and nutrition status can be studied with precise reporting.
The reduction of extreme poverty and hunger is the first of the eight United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG). As the lead UN agency for ICTs, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is playing a key role in promoting the use of ICTs to address emergency situations and food security, increased access to and use of ICTs can be beneficial to farmers and the agricultural industry. Nonetheless, efforts to date to employ these tools have not been uniform or sufficiently widespread. There are many factors (policy, legal framework, technology, knowledge, markets, research, etc.) to be considered when addressing food security, but in all of them information and communication technologies (ICTs) can act as catalysts. This report presents examples and initiatives, which make use of ICTs to improve food security, and describes how such decision making tools can help to address the problem. Starting from the decision making tools like DreamWork solution mentioned above the achievement of zero hunger and sustainable development goals seems plausible within the estimated time.
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