Technological innovations have greatly shaped agriculture throughout time. From the creation of the plough to the global positioning system (GPS) driven precision farming equipment, humans have developed new ways to make farming more efficient and grow more food.
To make the food accessible to the populace, a dynamic digital online marketplace, Bellefu.com, was established in 2012.
It is dedicated to agriculture-related activities ensuring farmers, buyers and sellers of agricultural products have direct contact with other agro-allied providers and manufacturing industries around the world.
In this interview, Oluwaseun Olukumoro, spokesperson, for the organisation, talks about how technology has aided the growth of agriculture, how they have made searching for agro products available among other issues.
Here is an excerpt:
On the new emerging agriculture world
Agriculture was once defined as the planting of crops and rearing of animals for man’s use. This definition was true of the agriculture done in the olden days when agriculture/farming was done only at the subsistence level, just for the survival of the farmer and his household.
Going by what agriculture has become in the present world, the above definition is found to be deficient of the numerous activities that agriculture embraces.
To this end, agriculture can be defined as the planting of crops, rearing of animals, processing of farm produce and marketing of the products.
In other words, agriculture does not only involve the planting of crops and rearing of animals alone, in this modern age, it now involves processing and marketing.
This new definition suggests that agriculture has gone beyond the use of crude implements/equipment, use of human and animal power, producing at subsistence level with little or nothing available for sale due to poor or lack of storage facilities, waiting for the ‘right’ weather (season) before planting, loss of crops and animals to various pests and diseases, among others, all of which characterized the agriculture practised in the olden days.
The global population continues to grow, so too does the demand for food production. By 2050, it is projected that the world’s population will reach 9 billion people requiring agriculture production to double.
To adequately respond to this ever-increasing demand, the agricultural industry has developed techniques that achieve higher yields.
Modern farming techniques produce the massive amounts of food needed to feed the growing global community efficiently and cost-effectively.
Today, modern farming/agriculture has many faces. It can be described as a coat of many colours.’ You ask why? This is it. As Cindy Hall put it, “agriculture is everything involved with growing plants and animals to be used for something else.
Nearly everything we eat and use comes from a plant or an animal raised on a farm.” Agriculture includes more than food. The clothes in your wardrobe wouldn’t exist without the cotton farmers. And corn is in everything from your toothpaste to your gasoline.
Modern farming is science. Modern farming is technology. Modern farming is engineering. Modern agriculture is business and farmers today, are entrepreneurs.
On modern farming as science
Modern agriculture has moved ahead from the era of depending solely on the soil for crop production. It has now engaged more widely, the science of plant and animal genetics to improve the quality of plants and animals produced by farmers.
So also, Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) in the forms of Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Aeroponics, greenhouse, vertical farms, among others have taken agriculture to a greater level in food production.
Aquaponics involves growing fishes and plants together within the same environment, which is considered to be a sustainable process.
It is a closed-loop system that relies on the symbiotic relationship between aquaculture (fish) and agriculture (plants) for fertilization. While fish waste accumulates in the water and provides the nutrients necessary for plant growth, the plants naturally clean the water. It provides a balanced, yet less regimented, environment.
On the other hand, hydroponics is a gardening method that allows for plants to be grown without the use of soil.
Aeroponics is technically a subset of hydroponics and works by suspending plant roots in the air and misting them with nutrient water. This method can provide a greater level of control over the amount of water that is used throughout the growing process.
Greenhouses grow crops indoors in a structure with walls and a roof made primarily of transparent material, like glass or polyethene, to make use of naturally occurring sunlight. They use glass to filter out the UV rays, reducing the heat build-up inside the growing environment. Often, they supplement this sunlight with artificial light to counteract the times when the sun’s energy is either less intense or hidden by clouds.
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.
Bellefu.com as agriculture – minded platform provides farmers and prospective farmers with several pieces of training and webinars on these agricultural innovations.
On modern farming as technology
Farmers nowadays use iPads, laptops, drones, robots and more. Farm automation, often associated with “smart farming”, is a technology that makes farms more efficient and automates the crop or livestock production cycle.
More companies are working on robotics innovation to develop drones, autonomous tractors, robotic harvesters, automatic watering, and seeding robots. New advancements in technologies ranging from robotics and drones to computer vision software have completely transformed modern agriculture.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in form of Remote sensors, satellites, and UAVs can gather information 24 hours per day over an entire field. These can monitor plant health, soil condition, temperature, humidity, etc.
So also, there is Blockchain which has the capability of tracking ownership records and tamper-resistance and can be used to solve urgent issues such as food fraud, safety recalls, supply chain inefficiency and food traceability in the current food system.
This list will not be complete without the mention of the Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) which allow exact locations of the land and nutrients to be pinpointed. Farmers use this information to decide where to add fertilizer, herbicides, and water. In this way, farmers reduce their costs by cutting down on unnecessary applications.
On farming as engineering
Agricultural engineering is the development, design, production and sales of everything farmers use – tractors, equipment and building.
In farming today, farmers make use of various machines to carry out a lot of operations ranging from land clearing, tillage, planting, tending (weeding and spraying), irrigation, drainage, harvesting and transportation, to cleaning, sorting, separation, cooling and drying, size reduction, pelleting, extruding, expelling among others.
Farmers are also proud owners of feed mills, rice mills, flour mills, vegetable oil processing, beverage manufacturing, and confectionaries machines for baking. Bellefu.com is the best avenue for the sales/purchase of agricultural tools/equipment and machinery.
On modern farming as a business
This is the financial and legal aspects of acquiring land and other assets needed to farm. It is the marketing, sales, and distribution of plants and animals. Marketing and developing a marketing strategy are becoming essential tools for farmers.
Marketing involves determining what products to grow and whom to sell them to. It also involves knowing how to price a product to cover costs and understanding strategies that minimize the risk of fluctuating prices. A marketing strategy helps farmers decide how to distribute their products. Small farmers may find that marketing directly to consumers, whether at farmers’ markets or over the Internet, is more profitable than selling to large businesses.
Others may contract their produce to area restaurants or grocery stores.
Some small farmers do limited processing of their products to make them more marketable and profitable.
There is no better platform the world over like bellefu.com, which provides an avenue for farmers to showcase their produce/products to the entire world. For a greater customer reach, more sales and added profit, BELLEFU.COM IS THE BEST BET for farmers.
On the relevance of the digital platform in modern agriculture
BELLEFU.COM was established in the year 2012 when the vision to birth a unique digital agricultural marketplace that connects farmers, buyers and sellers of agricultural produce/products with other agro-allied providers locally and internationally, was conceived.
Today, Bellefu.com is a dynamic digital online marketplace dedicated to agriculture-related activities ensuring farmers, buyers and sellers of agricultural products have direct contact with other agro-allied providers and manufacturing industries around the world. BELLEFU.COM now makes searching for agro products available at your fingertips.