Technology is an inevitable part of the agricultural sector, but farmers are warned to be careful. Not all tech is good tech, and the goal should not be to level up with every technical advancement available to them on the market.
This message kicked off day two of the 2023 Africa Agri Tech Conference on an exciting high. Delegates were challenged to think about how they utilise technology on their farms and in their agribusinesses.
“It is an inevitable reality to use robotic labour to increase production yield, however, there is a cost in replacing manpower. It is inevitable, and we need to remain competitive,” said Mark Hassenkamp, director of RedDun Hortitech.
He was delivering a speech on the future of food production, artificial intelligence, robotics, and new technology.
Hassenkamp explained how various tools are helping farmers curb losses and decreased production spending. Info-tech-producing farming data, he added, enables farmers to increase the quality and quantity of their production yields.
A step further would be biotech, and Hassenkamp believes it could potentially help farmers commercialise at a faster pace.
Data is king
During a high-value commodity panel discussion themed “From hero to zero and back”, Zander Ernst, director of Allesbeste Boerdery, shared his views on technology in agriculture.
According to Ernst, farmers should not be quick to want to implement every piece of technology available on the market. Instead, they should rather focus on implementing technology that works best for the specific commodities they produce.
“We need to look at how to raise effectiveness on the farms. I don’t think it’s only about technology, but about collecting more data,” he said.
Ernst added that data from info-tech devices offered farmers good forecasting, which enables the farmer to make calculated decisions.
Info-tech has helped Tiaan Snyman improve production at Firstfruits where he works as their technical lead.
Pests have been an ongoing challenge for citrus producers, however, by using info-tech, Snyman is now able to measure how many chemicals he needs to use to combat pests without impacting his product quality.
“It is important to make use of technology that complements each other when collecting data,” Snyman told delegates.
Day two of the 2023 Africa Agri Tech Conference focuses on biotechnology and scientific advances in agriculture. It will feature discussions on genetic engineering, cultivated meat, and precision fermentation, and much more.
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