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Sustainable food production is the direction we need to move. Sustainability above all. But where is agriculture going and how to make food production sustainable? That is not so easy to say, so I sought answers around the globe from experts in this sector.
I am of the opinion that we are not aware of the need for change, we are not aware of the technologies, knowledge, and skills that already exist today. In this article, I will try to bring you closer to how we can achieve that. So let’s begin.
What is Agriculture?
Agriculture is the systematic process of producing substances for human and animal consumption (we call them food), and other substances through the cultivation of plants and animals. Agriculture is an economic activity which, through cultivated plants and domestic animals, in addition to human labor, exploits natural resources (soil, water, climate) to obtain plant and animal products used in human and animal nutrition and as raw materials for further processing. It is divided into crop production (crop production, fruit growing, viticulture, horticulture, etc.) and livestock (cattle, pig, poultry, sheep, horse breeding, etc.).
History of Agriculture
Agriculture is one of the oldest human activities, and since it is older than any written document, it cannot be established when it originated. But according to the remains and archeological finds, agriculture originated somewhere in the period from 10,000 to 7,000 BC. when it came down to collecting fruit from shrubs and trees. Today, we divide agriculture into livestock and crop production. One of the oldest branches of agriculture is beekeeping. In recent times, agriculture has been divided into conventional and organic.
Food needs are increasing
Two big incentives for food production – population and earnings – are increasing. The world’s population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, while in 2016 it was ‘only’ 7.4 billion. Farmers around the world need to increase their food production by about 70%, compared to what was needed in 2007, to meet future needs, according to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Of course, in developed countries, there is a demand for healthier foods, organic foods, and protein-rich foods, which significantly raises the price of food and, of course, profits.
The growing world population, food shortages and changing weather are just some of the many dynamic factors that are increasingly affecting world agriculture. More and more people need to be fed, but the amount of arable land available per capita is decreasing worldwide.
This is all aided by problems such as soil erosion, water scarcity and extreme weather conditions that pose major challenges for farmers in many parts of the world.
High-tech solutions are evolving
With the increase in farms and production, more and more labor will be needed. This may mean additional labor imports, but also more likely the increasing use of robotic technology and artificial intelligence.
Many farms, such as dairy, already use robots to do a variety of jobs to replace human labor, reduce costs, and often speed up processes. In the future, it will certainly only go forward.
Perhaps the biggest problem right now is the legal and regulatory issues that will need to be addressed regarding the robots and the use of A.I.
Drone technology is expected to explode in the next 10 years, generating some 100,000 new jobs in the U.S. and add about $82 billion to economic activity, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research report. The potential use of dorn on farms by 2050 is enormous.
Gene editing growth
There is expected to be considerable genetic editing on the crops by 2050. This new technology will help scientists accurately edit genes in DNA in order to create better crop varieties. This will help farmers choose specific types of crops that will have capabilities such as being resistant to certain diseases, drought tolerance or more desirable oil content. Gene editing will provide a greater variety of crops that can be grown by editing out traits hampering widespread production.
Investments and agro Startups
Renee Vassilos is an agro-economist with over 15 years of work experience in large international corporations and diplomatic missions in the field of agricultural innovation. She began her career at John Deere Corporation’s Office of Development and Innovation in the People’s Republic of China. After a ten year career at John Deere, Renee has begun her new phase of work in USDA agro start-up programs. She is the founder of Banyan Innovation Group, which provides consulting services to global agribusiness through advice on business models, marketing and strategy development.
He adds that investments in the agricultural sector are not highly profitable in most cases. Often, decisions to invest in agriculture lie in philanthropy and view food production as a branch of the economy that will always exist. “With more affordable investments, many agro Start-ups have the potential for sustainable business. Renee talks about technology with particular enthusiasm. This is the future, the agro sector is constantly changing. Today, more than ever. Young people just entering the sector need to be open mind and understand the volatility and pace of development of the sector,” Renee says. Three things Renee emphasized that will innovate the agriculture aspect are Big Data collection and analysis, robotics and genetics development.
Farmers’ Virtual Network
Farmers Business Network FBN is a virtual company founded about four years ago and co-founded by Charles Baron with 16,000 registered holdings across the US continent. Businesses are assisting farmers in providing added value to their businesses. The end users are assisted through the collection of agronomic and market data, the sharing of business information, etc. Through the organization, members receive useful information to get the most out of their resources. profit directly from services.
“Our business network is a new form of cooperative, but it’s not a cooperative,” Charles states. It is an innovative model that, through IT technology, gives security to farmers in the production, organization, sale, and planning of their business. Farmers are still free to make decisions. Charles points out that farmers in America have realized that they cannot work alone. Therefore, business decisions are made on the basis of available analyzed data from the network. The founders’ initial idea was to save farmers from international corporations. The company was founded as a Start-up. After two years in business, the firm’s gross revenue was $ 200 million.
When asked about the future of agriculture, Charles replied: we are living in a golden age for technology development, especially in the IT field. The possibilities are immeasurable. Our business network is an example of the future. We are constantly working on the quality of services, of which farmers have many benefits in business. Let’s use technology to work for us, not against,” Charles concludes.
Meindert Don is a Swiss agro expert with over 35 years of experience in developing global food production strategies. After graduation, Meindert began his career at Agrifirm Corporation in the Netherlands. Agrifirm is a farmer-owned company mainly from the Netherlands and has operations from Asia to America. From the very beginning, Meindert worked closely with farmers in the Netherlands, Canada, and countries in East Asia. He spent the longest time working in Switzerland to develop agricultural movement strategies for different countries around the world. Today, he is the owner of several innovative horticultural companies and co-founder of the World Horti Center, a horticulture research center.
“Today, our world produces enough food for the planet’s total population, but not everyone has the same access to the nutrients they need. The yields of output produced vary, but still, a lack of knowledge, capital, and poor infrastructure leads to a larger gap in inadequate food distribution. Knowledge and technological innovation can provide sustainable food distribution channels for all the planet’s population,” Meindert said.
Let’s be like children – not childish but curious
Some of the applicable technologies in agriculture are sensor technology, artificial intelligence, blockchain, improved genetics, robotics, smart agriculture, vertical farms, conversational agrotechnical, food design, various IT platforms and infrastructure, circular economy, etc. Meindert has listed a dozen more. The takeaway message is to collect data using IT technologies, analyze data and make proper use of the information it receives. It is the sustainable agriculture of the future. Every farmer has the knowledge, but in order to secure his business in the long run, it is necessary to share that knowledge.
I once had the opportunity to hear a very interesting quote. “Young children are curious, active, harmless, quick to forgive, and most importantly, crave new knowledge – so let’s be like children, don’t act childish, but let’s be curious about what’s going on around us.”