Land reform must help emerging farmers to catch up with latest agri-trends

2018-07-04 11:10

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For centuries, technological advancement – or lack thereof – has been one of the factors that determined the progress or regress of nations. Those that have been astute enough to innovate have enjoyed the fruit of being the early beneficiaries of efficient and highly productive technologies.

Think computer inventions, aviation and car manufacturing, amongst others. Nations that haven’t been able to innovate but have been clever enough to adapt new technologies, have been able to catch up. We have reached a point where advanced technologies are available to those who need it – and of course, those who can afford them.

Granted, those who hold the patents make more money. But end-users who employ relevant technologies to modify and enhance productivity can offset the cost of the technology. This is more so in the field of agriculture, where demand for food means farmers have to adapt as quickly as possible to new farming techniques to meet the demand in a cost-effective and profitable manner.

From the advanced farming methods along Egypt’s Nile River centuries ago, to genetic modification pioneered by multinational companies in the 21st Century – so much has happened in agriculture. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be a big factor, not only in manufacturing plants, but also on farms. Precision farming, genetic editing and drone farming are some of the latest concepts in agriculture today. Those who are amenable to adapt to some of these technologies more quickly are likely to improve their competitiveness in production yields.

There is also a developmental aspect in technology deployment. Access to new technologies could assist emerging farmers to gain better yields. The ongoing debate about transformation in agriculture in South Africa is taking place at the right time. Land reform beneficiaries stand to benefit from modern farming technologies – but only if they are given title to the land and are able to raise capital to invest in new technologies. The sooner this happens, the better, so that emerging farmers are able to catch up with the latest trends.

Kobus Steenekamp of Monsanto, one of the biggest agri-technology suppliers in the country, shares his thoughts with Nation in Conversation.

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Nation In Conversation for News24.



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