According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. To feed everyone, food production may need to grow by 70% by then; and this has to be achieved with limited resources especially, arable land.
The inventions and innovations in scientific and Information Technology are vital in addressing globally growing need for food and increase in productivity.
China has taken lead in experimenting with rice production in desert as well as land with high salinity. This can effectively address the challenges created by limited land availability for agriculture.
For example, around one million square kilometers land in China is unused due to high salinity. It is estimated that if there was a way to grow rice in one-tenth of these unused area, then China can produce up to 50 million tons of additional food that can feed 200 million people of the country. It will also boost county’s rice production by 20%.
Similarly, under another agritech innovation, China is developing paste from plant cell walls that when mixed with sand can infuse soil like quality in the sand to retain nutrients, water and air. This technology is expected to accelerate the rate of global food production as large parts of deserts can potentially become arable. That’s 14% additional landmass for the planet to grow food on.
Besides these, startups across the globe are providing modern technologies to farmers ensuring better productivity at low cost. The growth in adoption of agtech by farmers is transforming global agriculture practice—from traditional to modern. Startups in this regard are addressing the urgent need of technology in the sector. More than 1,800 startups are operating in agriculture market worldwide. In order to leverage the sector, startups are rapidly evolving in following five key areas:
Farm Management Information System (FMIS): FMIS keeps digital farm record which benefits farmers at the time of decision making. The software and application services provided by FIMS allow farmers to manage their resources, crop productions, etc. effectively and efficiently.
Agtech Sensors: The use of advance agtech sensors in agriculture is revolutionizing the sector. After analyzing soil and weather condition, agtech sensors create perfect match of crops depending on which the decision is implemented on site. Drones and robotics are some of the examples of agtech sensors which are expected to be future farm workers. They (drones and robotics) are helpful in collecting data and based on it (data) crop health, weather, soil quality, etc. can be monitored.
Precision Agriculture and Predictive Data Analytics: With the penetration of technology in agriculture, the sector is relying more on technologies generated data. Due to this precision agriculture is gaining traction. The use of big data analytics and predictive analytics to address farm related issues are beneficial in making right decision for farmers enhancing effectiveness and efficiency of agriculture sector. Adoption of precision farming is predicted to rise high in next five years. This is because tech savvy Gen Y (startups) are expected to provide technological assistance to millennial farmers.
Digital Market Place: These startups aim to create market place by directly connecting farmers with suppliers discarding middlemen. It benefits growers with high profit margins and wide market reach.
Animal Data: For the better understanding of livestock breeding pattern, animal data analytics solution is used. It provides animal management and dairy technology solutions and depending on it farmers make right decision.
Agtech is vital in enhancing the productivity of agriculture sector. And startups are playing crucial role in providing such technologies to farmers across the globe. Penetration of these technologies (agtech) in developing economies will help them in optimising their resources because in lack of technology their resources—especially land—are either unused or under used. Technology oriented farming in this regard will enhance the productivity of the sector globally as a result the growing need of food can be addressed.
Subarna Poudel is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at email@example.com | +603 6204 5830