Report Synopsis

Agriculture and Innovation: What farmers can do to be part of the digital revolution

Murilo Bettarello

Discussions with all kind of farmers and agriculture enterprises, from a 0,5 hectare coffee farm in Kenya, to a 30,000 soybean hectares farmer in Brazil, reveal that all of them are feeling the impact of the digital revolution. Disruption that has occurred in shopping (Amazon), movies (Netflix), media (Facebook) and research (Google), are evidence of the change that agriculture is going to face in the next 10-15 years. The question is, are farmers going to be part of this revolution, or they going to be passengers? How they can play a fundamental role in this change? How they can be prepared for this change and benefit from it?

This report points out the trends which are likely to occur in digital agriculture in the next few years, and also shows some start ups which are building innovative solutions for agriculture. Some of these are going to succeed, but a lot are going to fail. “Fail fast” is a desirable strategy in the start up world. That is one component of the culture of the start ups that which can be adopted by the traditional agricultural world, to more rapidly develop agriculture innovation and be prepared for the next big changes that are going to come.

This report also shows the importance of hubs of collaboration and how farmers unions, cooperatives and associations can join to create hubs promoting innovation and change to solve the complex problems that our nine billion person world population is creating. It is worth noting that 10 of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) that our society aims to achieve by 2030 are directly linked to agriculture. This report gives some idea of how the digital revolution is going to help solve these complex challenges. In 5-15 years, we are going to have drones, controlled by apps, drought and disease proofing our farms or robots harvesting our trees; some examples of these already exist. The challenge is to make all this technology available for the majority of farmers and to teach these farmers how to use these innovative tools to help them grow more, better and more sustainable food to feed our growing world.

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