Can Big Data combat world hunger or is it just ‘food for thought?’
In 2015, the UN adopted seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aiming at an inclusive and participatory development. SDG 2 refers specifically to the elimination of world hunger, taking into account that about 10% of the world population is undernourished, with 33% of the produced food for human consumption wasted (primarily postharvest losses) every year  . However, Big Data dares to promise a better future on that, focusing mainly on farming with the hope to be able to feed the expected by 2050, 10 billion people of this planet.
Big Data and Advanced Analytics (BDAA), could indeed, organise all this ‘data chaos’ through a systematic approach that would make data constructively usable. Practical examples of such solutions include the redistribution of food surplus, the fund reallocation, and the rural development (FAO and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have launched a half-billion-dollar effort towards this direction) . By collecting, analysing and combining accurate information about agricultural conditions (e.g., seeds varieties and availability, crop stress, etc), food market, and weather data (e.g., rainfall levels or excessive heat), governments could redesign their development practices and policies, and help poor rural areas, where the economy heavily depends on farming, and the community-driven action is minimum  .
Governments today, harness Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deal with such large-scale issues, so that Big Data, can become ‘meaningful data’ to the hands of a farmer. That way, they can promote more effective and efficient decision-making (e.g., to identify the local soil type and apply the ideal farming technique), and therefore increasing crop yields. In more specialised cases, Big Data are used to create hydrological models, food-economics forecasts, ‘cloud farming’ portals, and Augmented Reality (AR) simulations, allowing all implicated stakeholders to investigate connections and explore patterns in massive amounts of information, with the aim to optimize farming operation, minimize waste, and reduce environmental impact   .
However, special attention is required as to who has access to such insurmountable farming data, as they can prove a dangerous weapon to the wrong hands (e.g., unethical agribusiness companies). Undoubtedly, Big Data can revolutionize the way world famine is fought, but issues of transparency and data ethics should always be included in strategies design and policy-making  .
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