“How do we build a fresh supply chain that is rooted in value for the farmer and benefits the consumer”? Shayna Harris, Chief Growth Officer, Farmer’s Fridge
The SAI Platform Annual Event 2019 brought together the agriculture industry from around the world to discuss how to collaborate and cooperate to deal with the major challenges ahead.
So, how do we see the future for next generation farming? What actions are required now to make agriculture more sustainable? How can we future-proof farming as a viable and attractive profession for the next generation?
Discussions to address these key challenges were honest and to the point. Sustainability for farmers means being able to stay in business in a time of severe financial and climatic challenges. Farmers take their duty as stewards of the land very seriously. A key role for the farmer is to pass on the land to the next generation in a better state to how they got it. However, they must also be able to make a living from it in their lifetime. This requires constant awareness of what they are doing to introduce better practices, make use of innovation, technology and ensure they are agile enough to adapt.
Digital literacy as well as the use and access of data remains a contentious issue for farmers. How can farmers be certain that their data will be used by buyers for mutually beneficial purposes? Here there is a need to generate trust and convince the farmer that the data will be used to their benefit. Already, there is a generational change taking place due to a willingness to use data and e-tools. As experienced by the Almond Board of California, young people are now returning to almond farms and making money.
For there to be a future for farming, radical change and immediate action are needed. However, this requires great courage, knowledge and innovation. Change on this global scale also requires the support of an entire industry and its supply chain. This includes aligned policy, financial endorsement and social awareness, all critical components for the next generation of farmers.
As Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow, Chicago Global Council on Global Affairs, said “when we think about the future, we have to think about all the plausible outcomes and what decisions can be made at farm level and how in turn they can be implemented”.