HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN INCREASE FOOD PRODUCTION

The  global  growing  population  is  driving  up  the  demand  for  food.

As  the  world’s  population increases,  food  security  seems  to  be  on  the  decrease  as  one  in  nine  person suffer  chronic hunger  and  12.9  percent  of  the  population  in  developing  countries  are  undernourished.

More devastating  is  the  vulnerability  of  agriculture  to  climate  change.  The  negative  effects  of  climate change  and  bad  weather  has  led  to  reduced  productivity,  thereby,  making  it  more  difficult  to achieve  food security,  nutrition  goals  and  reduce  poverty.

Even  agriculture  itself  is  a  major contributor  to  climate  change  as  it  emits  greenhouse  gasses  and therefore  threatens  food security. Farmers  are  greatly  affected  by  climate  change.  Despite  investing  so much  on  their  farms, during  harvest,  they  have  little  to  show for  it.

The  unpredictability of  the  climate situation  in  the world  means  that  farmers  can  no  longer  plant  crops with  peace  of  mind,  due  to  the  fear  of natural  disaster  caused  by  climate  change.  The  crops  are  not safe,  animals  are  not  safe,  the farm  is  not  safe,  and  neither  is  the  farmer  and  his  income,  yet  the demand  for  more  food  has  to be  met.

In  2009,  the  Food  and  Agriculture  Organization  of  the  United  Nations  published  a  report  stating that  by the  year  2050,  there  will  need  to  be  a  70%  increase  in  the  production  of  food  to accommodate  an increase  in  population  by  2.3  billion  people.

Considering  challenges  such  as extreme  weather  conditions and  rising  climate  change,  and  environmental impact  resulting from  intensive  farming  practices,  it  is  almost  impossible  to  achieve  food  security.

Between  cultivation  and  harvesting  is  a  lot  of  work.  Farmers  invest  lots  of  time,  energy  and money especially,  in  the  monitoring  of  crop  health.  The  traditional  way  of  employing  farm workers  to  monitor  the health  of  plants  and  animals  is  quite  expensive  and  not  very  reliable. Besides,  recruitment  of  incompetent workers  has  led  to  the  downfall  of  many organizations.

What  if  only  a  part  of  a  given  field  needs  more  fertilizer?  What  if  it’s  only  one  tenth  of  a  field that needs more  pesticide?  What  if  one  out  of  a  thousand  chicks  is  infected?  These  and  many other  conditions have spurred  the  need  for  improved  technologies  to  see  what’s going  on  in  the farms  due  to  the  limitations  of humans  in  spotting  these  little  but  serious  complications.

This  brings  me  to  what  is  called  “Smart  Agriculture”.  Smart  Agriculture  represents  the application  of Information  and  Communication  Technologies  (ICT)  into  agriculture.  The application  of  ICT  solutions  such as  precision  equipment,  the  Internet  of  Things  (IoT),  sensors, geo-positioning  systems,  Unmanned  Aerial Vehicles  (UAVs,  drones),  robotics,  etc,  is  creating  a revolutionary  change  in  agriculture,  helping  farmers improve  efficiency  and  increase  their  crop yields.

Here  are  some  ways  technology  is  already  changing  agriculture; 

Agricultural  Drones:

Drones  are  used  in  agriculture  to  enhance  various  agricultural  practices.  They  are  used  in  crop health assessment,  irrigation,  crop  monitoring,  crop  spraying,  planting,  and  soil  and  field analysis.  Drones  can  be used  in  the  fast  application  of  pesticides,  fertilizers  and  nutrients  to plants  instead  of  workers  on  foot  or tractors.

Drones  can  easily  detect  weeds,  count  number  of crops,  get  accurate  maps  of  individual  fields segment, etc.  The  farmers  enter  the  details  of  what field  to  survey  and  from  the  drone  data,  we  can  draw  insights regarding  plant  health,  plant counts,  height  and  yields,  and  so  on.  The  benefits  of  drones  includes  ease of  use,  time  saving, and the potential to increase yields.

Robotics

Robots  have  many  benefits  in  the  agricultural  industry,  especially  during  harvest.  The  use  of robots  in  the farm  will  greatly  reduce  the  cost  of  labors.  They  can  be  used  in  fruit  picking, spraying,  shearing,  among others,  thereby  reducing  farm  labor.  The  cost  of  hiring  workers  and the  stress  of  walking  through  the whole  farm  will  be  a  thing  of  the  past.

Infact,  a  report released  by  McKinsey  &  Company  indicates  that  by  2030,  as  many  as  800  million workers worldwide  could  be  replaced  at  work  by  robots.  This  is  terrific!  The  need  for  robots  in agriculture  is  so intense  as  many  farmers  have  run  out  of  business  employing  lazy  workers.  We are  talking  about  a “close-to-hundred-percent  efficiency”  in  harvesting  crops.

Logically,  that means  “No  Wastage”,  the  major  challenge  in  developing  countries.

As  smart  technologies make  headway  across  industries,  the  agriculture  sector,  which  is  the most important  of  all,  must  not  to be  left  behind.

A  smart  farm  is  obtainable,  high  productivity is  achievable, food  security  is  attainable.  We have  all  we need  to  revolutionize  agriculture,  and make this world a better place. Together, we can do it!

 

Iyanuoluwa Olamide Aliu

1 comment

  1. Boluwatife Sofodun 9 months ago January 7, 2019

    Quite an easy read, very insightful
    Thank you

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