Food security issues more evident during Covid-19

Malaysians need to react quickly to ensure that there is enough food for the nation


THE global Covid-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of food security that is expected to be more crucial as borders remain closed with nations having to find ways to fend for themselves in the longer run.

Xperanti Solutions (M) Sdn Bhd CEO Vicks Kanasingam said Malaysians need to react quickly to the issue and ensure that there is enough food for the nation.

He said technology also needs to be applied in many areas that would be able to monitor and provide relevant data on food security that could assist the government and enterprises in finding the best solution for the country.

“Data on how much food we have, where the food is, is especially important from the livestock perspective.

“For instance, you will know exactly on the dashboard that there are, for example, 2,000 cows here or 5,000 cows there. Food security here is not very well-structured, so we are bringing this together to ensure that it is structured,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday after announcing its collaboration with the Archipelago group to provide end-to-end technology solutions for agriculture projects in Asia.

Xperanti is Malaysia’s first and largest dedicated Internet of Things (IoT) network, operating nationwide with global coverage based on Sigfox SA’s technology while Archipelago is a Labuan general and life insurance group.

The joint initiative entails the utilisation of Archipelago’s digital insurance platform, FLOURISH, with Xperanti’s Sigfox IoT technology, to provide nationwide agriculture commodity supply-chain management solutions that will boost national food security.

It will also support regional efforts to address the need for reliable and sustainable sources of quality food as well as support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), specifically SDG2 that recognises the inter-linkages between achieving food security, supporting sustainable agriculture and empowering small farmers.

According to Kanagasingam, Malaysia’s food import bill had ballooned from RM10.5 billion in 1998 to RM51.28 billion in 2017.

He said with Malaysia’s current population of 32.66 million as of last year, there is an increasing concern for the agriculture sector to produce enough food for the nation.

“IoT brings possibilities for local farmers to not only address challenges in food supply chains such as crop and livestock traceability, but it also helps them optimise their supply-chain through realtime monitoring and data-driven decision making.

“One of the agricultural commodities is livestock. Livestock traceability is important for the insurer to monitor the assets that they are insuring, thus, reducing the risk,” he added.

For instance, Xperanti’s Sigfox-based IoT devices can track livestock, specifically cattle, from their farms to the feedlot and then to the slaughterhouse.

“We can even track them cross-border, for example, from Thailand to Malaysia and any countries within Sigfox network without additional roaming charges,” he added.

Smart Agriculture solutions include livestock tracking and monitoring would assist farmers in collecting data on stock health, wellbeing and physical location.

By integrating a livestock monitoring system, farmers are notified when their cattle’s behaviour appears to be changing and provide key insights to help them make better decisions that unlock supply chain efficiencies and reap greater productivity.

The Archipelago-Xperanti collaboration also signifies Xperanti’s full commitment in leading the nation’s drive towards IoT adoption, further supporting the nation’s preparation towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Backed by Archipelago’s extensive experience in the insurance industry combined with Xperanti’s expertise in IoT technology, Kanagasingam said the company could address food security issues for the community and nation.

Sigfox transmits low bandwidth data and small payloads of information and the technology is adept at tracking and monitoring, particularly non-powered assets such as trailers, containers, livestock or the environment, at a lower cost and energy.

The Sigfox low-power wide-area network technology is also designed to complement existing high bandwidth protocols, such as 4G and 5G, for innovative and powerful IoT solutions especially in the areas of smart cities, agriculture and transportation.

Meanwhile, Archipelago Associates Ltd CEO, the Insurtech arm of the Archipelago group, Vincent Kwo said the company has also developed FLOURISH — a mobile digital Agri App and back-end solution that is offered to agriculture insurers and their policyholders for Asean region.

“The bespoke Agri App provides the digital engagement for policy management, claims management, traceability and our vision on the use of big data for predictive models of new products and traceability from farm-to-fork on food security,” he added.