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The Future of Farming and the role of ICTs

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Anyone interested in technology, particularly new ICTs, and agriculture would agree that the two are daily entangling very well. Despite advances in technology and farming practices, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) reported (that while there is more than enough food produced in the world, about 815 million people go hungry (approx. 1 in 9 persons).

The world still need to increase agricultural productivity, eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition. It is projected that the global population would rise to 10 billion by 2050, hence the imminent challenge will be how we’ll feed the exploding population in the future – in a cost effective, sustainable and friendly to the environment (ISO).

The question of the future of farming has thus become more topical. For example, the Forum for the Future of Agriculture and its partners is holding the regional forum in Bulgaria to discuss amongst many issues the future of farming in the region.

In the opening keynote address the Former UN Secretary General (now the chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation) Mr. Kofi Annan provided a beautiful review of the current issues affecting agriculture and challenges lying ahead.

Elsewhere, in London the Director General of FAO addressed a high-level event, “A sustainable Food Future" where he said, “The future of agriculture is not input-intensive, but knowledge-intensive. This is the new paradigm”.

The Future of Farming and ICTs

Any futuristic discussion on agriculture leads to the discussion on knowledge and also technology. The renowned Norman R. Scott Distinguished Seminar Series in Global Food Security has also discussed the role of ICTs in the future of farming debate. Internet of Things, location based monitoring (by machinery, satellites or drones), mobile and cloud computing will lead to a deluge of data writes Poppe, Krijin.

A recent report has suggested that IoT Technology will play a pivotal role in meeting food demands of a growing population. We have previously detailed on this platform some current use cases on how these emerging technologies are already being used in some situations.

However, all these technologies will work in cases where technologies, electricity, mobile telephony wireless and cloud computing are in the reach of many.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in its ICT Development Index 2017 (or alternatively found in the Measuring the Information Society Report 2017) notes that there is disparity in ICT development in the countries of the world – the gap between the have and have not is wide; although mobile telephone is swelling in most sub-Saharan Africa.

ICTs and the future

How will farming be like in 40 years from now? For certainty nobody knows, but linking so many technologies will reduce waste, allow localized monitoring of plants and animals, maximizing production and reducing the effect of environmental uncertainty – at least at a farm level.

The avalanche of various technologies to solve various farming problems – such as crop detection, crop monitoring, animal monitoring, weather forecasting at localized levels, and access to farm data is a proof of more possibilities in the horizon.

The notable part being that, Africa and Asia is not lagging behind. For example the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation, representing African, Caribbean and Pacific countries has been promoting innovative ICTs for agriculture through guides, and funding Agri-Hackathons in search of innovative solutions to solve the agricultural production and improve the value chains.




Dr Arvind's picture