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ASCM Insights

Tech Tools Advance Agricultural Supply Chains Amid Staggering Food Insecurity


In a world that’s often marked by conspicuous consumption and abundance, it’s difficult to believe that regions, nations and people can still be devastated by food shortages and chronic hunger. And yet, more than 345 million people across the globe are experiencing acute levels of food insecurity.

According to the World Food Programme, this equals a truly shocking rise of 200 million more people than prepandemic levels. The cause is a familiar refrain: climate change, extreme weather, global conflict and instability, poverty and inequality, trade policies. And as these issues persist, so do their consequences.

Fertilizer, in particular, has skyrocketed in price, reports Peter S. Goodman for The New York Times. “Over the first two months of the pandemic, as commercial activity froze, shipping companies reduced their ports of call in sub-Saharan Africa by roughly one-fifth,” he explains. Then came the cargo backlog and the ship that jammed the Suez Canal. More recently, the jump in U.S. interest rates had the unfortunate effect of increasing the value of the dollar in nations that can scarcely afford it. Without enough fertilizer, farmers are forced to make impossible choices. “They lack adequate crops to feed their families. They have nothing to sell to raise cash. Yet they must buy food at wildly inflated prices,” Goodman writes.

To help farmers better manage amid intense market fluctuation, as well as numerous other challenges, there are some amazing innovations happening right now. For instance, agtech startup Helios is launching an AI-powered chatbot that is literally programmed to help prevent food shortages. The chatbot harnesses billions of climate, economic and political signals to forecast potential supply chain risk down to the farm level. This enables partners throughout the supply chain to understand and manage risk associated with each supplier and decide whether to stay the course or pivot.

This type of tech solution is especially welcome as climate change creates more volatile weather patterns and unexpected disasters and organizations shift to more sustainable business practices. Increasing sustainability happens to be a strength of generative AI, writes ASCM Editor-in-Chief Elizabeth Rennie in a recent blog post: “Generative AI could potentially be used to track supply chain greenhouse gas emissions and help with supply chain mapping to help companies see the impacts beyond tier-one suppliers. In the nearer future, generative AI can support sustainability monitoring by analyzing text data from various sources, such as government reports or social media posts, to quickly extract relevant information about emissions.”

Build resilience with tech innovation

Leveraging AI to increase sustainable practices and supply chain visibility is just one of the ways in which supply chains can use technology to innovate and advance. The ASCM Supply Chain Technology Certificate will teach you how to implement the latest solutions to optimize processes, prioritize agility and achieve a more dynamic supply chain. Whether you want to stand out in a competitive job market or use predictive analysis to forecast demand, understanding the latest supply chain tech is crucial for your career.

And coming in December, the ASCM Supply Chain Resilience Certificate will be essential to safeguarding your organization, its performance and its competitive advantage. You’ll learn how to expand your knowledge of risk management, data-driven decision-making, supplier collaboration and much more. No one can predict the future, but preparing for uncertainty will help you — and your supply chain — persevere.  

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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