Technology for sustainable agribusiness

June 12, 2020
5 min read
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Agriculture is a major source of income for most people living in developing countries. The agricultural sector provides food security and it can help preserve the environment. Our dependence on food supply emphasises the need for sustainable agriculture practices.

There is an ever-increasing global population which puts higher demands on the production of food. Over the last century, the global population has quadrupled. In 1915, there were 1.8 billion people in the world. Today, according to the most recent estimate by the UN, there are 7.8 billion people — and we may reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Food demand is expected to increase anywhere between 59% to 98% by 2050. This implies that farmers worldwide need to increase crop production by either producing on more lands or increasing the capacity of existing lands through the use of fertilisers. As it stands, the number of crops harvested per unit of land cultivated is growing too slowly to meet the forecasted demand for food.

This leaves an unleveling burden on the environment.

The effects of climate change are affecting crop yields. Agricultural regions close to the equator may face an 18% to 23% reduction in soy and corn output by 2050, due to climate change. Nonetheless, some regions like Russia and China will benefit from warmer growing seasons. It is therefore important to consider advanced logistics, transportation, storage, and processing to enhance food supply and security. This is where technology becomes useful.

Highlighting the sustainable development goals (SDGs), a part of achieving a sustainable future is creating resilient food systems. By so doing, we can increase the number of meals the poor have daily, reduce poverty, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems.  

Technology applications could help farmers to use proper data in decision-making, which leads to low-input agriculture. Modern farms utilise efficient and environmentally friendly devices like robots, moisture sensors, aerial images, and GPS technologies. The evidence of the use of these sophisticated technologies is increased crop productivity, increased worker safety, reduced impact on natural ecosystems, and decreased use of pesticides, water and fertilisers.

A simple mobile phone is changing the game among African smallholder farmers.

Smartphone applications link farmers to multimedia advisory content, farm inputs, and buyers. The use of drones and satellite systems are being used to inform farmers about what types of crops to plant and the amount of input to use. In Ghana, online platforms such as Esoko, Farmerline, and Trotro Tractor have provided farmers with accessible services. These help farmers to access markets and advice. Nonetheless, connectivity is limited in rural areas. This affects access to services and information to provide solutions.

Enhancing inclusion in digitisation can be helpful in achieving double food production by 2050. Smallholder farmers have to be involved in decision making to increase our chances of achieving sustainable agriculture by 2030.

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