Forum tackles how AI can help deal with global food security

With the world’s population predicted to hover around 9.8 billion by 2050, artificial intelligence could help feed people across the globe now and in the future. That makes artificial intelligence (AI) an ideal topic for the third annual Future of Food Forum on March 20 at the University of Florida.

You can register now for the forum, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Grand Ballroom of the Reitz Union at UF.

The UF/IFAS Global Food Systems Institute (GFSI), hosts the forum, during which scientists will attempt to start answering several key questions, said Gbola Adesogan, associate vice president and director of the GFSI.

Adegbola Adesogan, associate vice president and director of the UF/IFAS Global Food Systems Institute, stands next to beef cattle at the UF Beef Teaching Unit. UF/IFAS photography.

“How can AI help us develop more resilient or crisis-proof food systems, given the disruptions to our food supply chains caused by COVID and the Ukraine war?” Adesogan said.

Other questions the forum will try to answer:

  • How can AI transform our food systems to be more efficient, climate-smart, sustainable, safe and less wasteful?
  • How will AI help small farmers in developing countries increase their yields?

“AI is going to transform the way we produce, store, distribute and market food in ways that will improve food safety, efficiency, resilience and sustainability,” Adesogan said. “It will help us to tackle crop, livestock and seafood pests and diseases earlier and more successfully, better predict when to harvest and how best to reduce losses, wastes and more.”

Adesogan will speak at the beginning of the forum, and he’ll be followed by Scott Angle, UF’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resource and leader of UF/IFAS.

“This forum brings together three drivers of the emergence of UF/IFAS as a worldwide leader in improving food systems,” said Angle. “It showcases our efforts to harness the potential of AI for farms large and small, our recently reorganized international efforts under Dr. Adesogan, and our close partnerships with the foundations and international research organizations on the leading edge of efforts to feed the world.”

HiPerGator, UF’s AI supercomputer. UF/IFAS photography.

Charlie Li, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering, who’s also speaking at the forum, provides several practical ways AI can help farmers:

  • Analyze large amounts of data to develop more resilient crop varieties.
  • Sensors, robots and drones collect data on crops and soil conditions, and AI algorithms analyze the data to provide actionable insights for farmers such as when to plant, spray and harvest.
  • Detect diseases and pests early through image-recognition algorithms, helping farmers take preventive measures before the pathogens cause significant damage.

The forum’s agenda includes sessions on how AI will revolutionize the future of agriculture and how it can help create crisis-proof, climate-friendly food systems.

Here are some examples, as provided by Li:

  • Predict and manage climate risks to prevent food supply chain disruptions.
  • Help optimize use of resources in food production. For example, reduce nutrient and water use, which leads to less environmental impact.
  • Reduce food waste by optimizing supply chain management and predicting demand to prevent overproduction.

Stewart Collins, senior program leader for digital solutions at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the keynote speaker at 9:30 a.m.

In addition to Li, other UF/IFAS scientists speaking at the forum are Raquel Dias, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of microbiology and cell science and Karen Garrett, UF/IFAS plant pathology professor.

At 4 p.m., Jack Rechcigl, director of the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education center, will speak about the new Center for AI in Agriculture planned to be built at the facility in Hillsborough County.


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.  @UF_IFAS


About AI at UF

The University of Florida is making artificial intelligence the centerpiece of a major, long-term initiative that combines world-class research infrastructure, cutting-edge research and and a transformational approach to curriculum. UF is committed to building the nation’s first AI University by offering artificial intelligence courses to all students in its 16 colleges through our AI Across the Curriculum program. Our faculty and students can analyze vast amounts of data that can impact our country’s biggest challenges with HiPerGator, the most powerful, university-owned supercomputer in the nation.


Feeding a hungry world takes effort. Nearly everything we do comes back to food: from growing it and getting it to consumers, to conserving natural resources and supporting agricultural efforts. Explore all the reasons why at or follow #FoodIsOurMiddleName.



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Posted: March 13, 2023

Category: UF/IFAS
Tags: Adegbola Adesogan, Agricultultural And Biological Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Charlie Li, Crops, Diseases, Future Of Food Forum, Harvest, HiPerGator, J. Scott Angle, Karen Garrett, Microbiology And Cell Science, Microcell, Plant Pathology, Raquel Dias, Supply Chain

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