THE global population is careening towards 11 billion by 2100, up 52.7 percent from the 7.2 billion recorded in 2014.
Looking at a more immediate date, and in our lifetime, the projected population is expected to climb to 9.1 billion by 2050.
In this light, pertinent questions arise, including whether the current global agricultural production is equipped to feed the masses, especially those in poorer, undeveloped regions, such as sub-Saharan nations, where Namibia resides.
No one has a definitive answer, and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) statement that it’s “cautiously optimistic” about the world’s potential to feed itself in 2050 is disturbingly tentative.
Based on sheer optimism, the FAO has tasked farmers to increase food production by 70 percent, in order to feed the world’s mushrooming population.
To meet the demand, farmers, including those in Namibia, must address water shortages, due to climate change and poor farming practices that have eroded overall farm productivity.
Big agriculture is responding to higher food demands by leaning on innovative thinking and new techniques, to push up their production capabilities. Technology innovations are flooding into the market and major players like Monsanto expect a boom in agricultural data science, as market value reaches US$20 billion by 2020.
Big agriculture doesn’t fear technology. The romantic view of men in overalls relying on the farmer’s almanac and the moon’s phases for planting, fertilising and watering crops is good for the movies, but far from reality.
Farming is big business, and has been for years. The industry adopted game-changing techniques and business models between 1960 and 1999, which reshaped industrial farming.
To manage the coming swell, more modernised technology that harvest crops and digital farming are joining the green revolution and time-held traditional farming techniques. Digital farming is garnering lots of interest, as it harvests the abundant details and layers of processes that make up the planting and harvesting cycles.
In digital farming, a farmer can plant, water, till, fertilise and harvest crops without leaving the office. Digital farming combines telematics, geospatial analysis, analytics and business networks collaboration, to give farmers a geo-based overview of their entire business.
When farmers log into their laptops, PCs, tablets or mobile phones, they see an aerial image of their farms. They can take a virtual walkthrough of any sector and understand exactly what is happening with their crop.
Big data, analytics, and the Internet of Things seem to be made for non-farmers who live in urban areas and have complicated lives. Not so, as these technologies cut to the heart of businesses that have layered processes and multiple people working together for the same outcome. They align perfectly in developed countries, where consumers purchase groceries from a mobile app and drones monitor grape crops; and they promise efficiencies and broader access to food supplies in economically disadvantaged regions, in which Namibia is based.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015