The Future of Farming
A number of global trends are influencing food security, poverty, and the overall sustainability of food and agricultural systems. The two big drivers of food demand — population and income — are on the rise. The world’s population is expected to reach 9.1 billion people in 2050. Farmers globally must increase food production by 70% to meet the needs of the larger population. “As incomes rise, consumer preference moves from wheat and grains to legumes,” says David Widmar, Purdue University AG economist.
Traditional farming has also been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the FAO, border closures, quarantines and disruptions to supply chains are limiting some people’s access to food, especially in countries hit hard by the virus or already affected by high levels of food insecurity. India needs to shift from basic farming to more efficient, sustainable, and productive farming.
Unfortunately, today’s agriculture policies fail to recognize how crop choices, input costs, and the supply chain are intertwined, perpetuating marginal farming. Moreover, growing more food isn’t the solution to providing employment. Beyond liberalisation of pricing and supply-chain restrictions, India needs multi-fold Tech Solutions. Tech solutions not only help to improve the yield and quality of crops such as the use of the Internet of Things (IoT) software to help with remote monitoring, while a special water treatment system reduces bacteria growth and improves yield rate but address the perennial challenge of the knowledge gap, ineffective and age-old farming techniques and involvement of middlemen throughout the chain.
Adoption of best practices is critical and digital communication is necessary to bridge the technology gap. Agricultural extension plays a key role in technology dissemination and the private sector is increasingly active in this domain. In a study conducted, it was found at every step of involvement of intermediaries; there is a price addition of 2% to 7% and food waste of 9% — 15%. Future technology has to play a pivotal role to improve post-harvest supply chain and effectively reduce the food loss. Farmer-to-Business and Direct-to-Consumer can prove to a boon for the Agriculture Sector.
Electric cars and renewable power plants tend to get all the attention when it comes to cleantech. But you might also spare a thought for those working just as hard in the food tech the sector to build autonomous tractors, and weed-stomping robots designed to grow more food while using fewer resources.
By 2050, around 80% of the world population is expected to live in urban areas, and the growing population will lead to an increased demand for food. Growing more food to feed our ever-growing population has led to a decrease in Forest covers. According to FAO, the reduction in Forest land is almost equivalent to the increase in Agricultural land.
Technologies like Hydroponic Farming, Vertical Farming and Precision Farming can unlock the potential urban areas have to produce food without further reducing forest cover. Vertical farming is the practice of producing food on vertically inclined surfaces. Instead of farming vegetables and other foods on a single level, such as in a field or a greenhouse, this method produces foods in vertically stacked layers commonly integrated into other structures like a skyscraper, shipping container or repurposed warehouse. The efficient use of vertical farming may perhaps play a significant role in addressing future food challenges.
Future Technologies in Agriculture at a Glance
Produce Differently using new Technologies
· Algae feedstock
· Desert Agriculture
· Seawater farming
· Vertical/urban farming
Use new technologies to bring food production to consumer
· Genetic Modification
· 3D Printing
· Farm-to-Business Tech
· Direct-to-Consumer Tec
Incorporate cross-industry technologies and applications
· Drone Technology
· Data Analytics
· Internet of Things
· Precision Agriculture
· Nano Technology
· Artificial Intelligence