If you work in the agri sector, you know that it is very technologically developed. Nico Groenewald, the head of agribusiness at Standard Bank, talks to us about how technology and agriculture have become more intertwined over the years, and the influence emerging technologies have had on the sector.
How has technology in agri changed over the years?
South Africans assume that technology has advanced, but agriculture has been left behind, still relying on old-fashioned tech to do the job. The agri sector, however, has continuously stayed up-to-date with the latest technological advancements. The clearest aspect of technology’s impact on agriculture in South Africa, according to Groenewald, is when we look at agriculture’s productivity. He gives us an interesting example of how things have changed from 1937 to today on this episode, so give it a watch!
What are some of the emerging technologies in agriculture today?
Technology plays a role in three distinct layers of agriculture: input, production, and sales.
- Input: In less than 100 years, South African farmers have been able to increase our yield output by more than 200% thanks to technology. When looking at biotechnology (such as seed cultivars), we have been able to produce stronger, more resistant seeds that make our planting seasons easier and increase our yields.
- Production: You only have to take a look at the quality of our tractors, harvesters and planting equipment to see the advancement of tech in agriculture. Now we are able to farm more accurately and more precisely than ever before, thanks to tech.
- Sales: Selling your product has never been easier, thanks to tech. From social media to online auctions and websites, technology has helped connect our farmers to their customers much easier than before.
How important is it to embrace new technology for sustainable farming?
South Africa, as a semi-arid country, must embrace sustainable farming practices, and new technologies will aid in this. We don’t have the land to increase our production volume, so we have to look at farming more efficiently and sustainably. Working towards renewable energy and newer forms of technology can ensure that our farmers keep improving on what we do with the land we already have.
How can farmers embrace newer and more readily available forms of technology?
Being a farmer, you’re probably already familiar with risk. When embracing technology, as with any other new venture, there will always be a risk attached, but it’s crucial that you don’t over or undercapitalise on newer tech (if you’re looking for a refresher on capitalisation, watch this episode of Food For Mzansi TV). When embracing new tech, make sure that it’s applicable to your business and actually optimises what you do. Investing in something just because it’s new and shiny can definitely lead to your downfall, so keep your mind on your business’ success.