Blog: Farmers Have No Reason To Implement Innovations Unless Customers Expect Food Grown In Ways That Are Healthy For The World. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRT) has been focusing on improving agricultural production, reducing starvation and deterioration of the climate in the tropical drylands. ICRISAT Director General Jacqueline d'Arros Hughes shared her views on the same. Will Agriculture Change In In Post-Covid World? In addition to better farmer-consumer relations and more productive supply chains, Covid-19 has outlined prospects for enhanced agri-food systems: automated extension systems, expanded field mechanization, decentralized markets and strengthened farm gate procurement. Agriculture can proceed with less face-to-face interaction without defense against the virus. I hope that the agricultural improvements will concentrate on areas vulnerable to the pandemic, as they will also contribute to the long-term priorities of sustainable development. Can Farming Be Profitable? Agriculture is a dynamic and high-risk activity; the risk in smallholder rain-fed systems is greater. As farming is lucrative for a number of reasons and unprofitable for just as many reasons, there is no single solution. Better control of pests and pathogens, soil productivity and good agronomic practises, enhanced climate change resilience, the production of quality seeds of improved varieties, improved consumer access, mechanisation to fix labour shortages, improved post-harvest practises and processing choices, reinforced supply chains and a favourable policy environment will make farming profitable. Is There An Impact Of Digitalization On Agriculture? Digital technology has the power to make farming dramatically more efficient, eliminate drudgery, and make farming more lucrative. Due to digital lag, smallholder farmers in the drylands of Asia and Africa may not always have access to the new, most suitable and most effective technologies. That said, through the widespread availability of smartphones and internet access, there is a vast community of start-ups and entrepreneurs, including many partnering with us, working to make the advantages of digital technologies accessible to smallholder farmers. How Are Genetic Diversity Of The Seeds Maintained? Genetic variation minimises risk for farmers; one of the building blocks of new, adapted varieties is genetic diversity. Our Genebank, based in India and Africa, houses more than 1,53,000 dryland crop accessions that benefit breeding programmes around the world. Of the overall Genebank accessions, 1,13,653 were duplicated in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in order to ensure their preservation and accessibility for future generations. How ICRISAT Is Working To Combat The Issue Of Malnutrition In India? In the drylands of Asia and Africa where these crops are cultivated and eaten, the company is geared towards enhancing nutrition. The creation of the first naturally bred biofortified pearl millet from India at ICRISAT contributed to the specification of minimum iron levels for pearl millet breeding. Via our agri-business incubator, we help start-ups to grow value-added food items that blend nutritious, tasty and easy-to-eat dryland cereals and legumes. The Smart Food movement seeks to diversify eating into a strategy that is helpful to you, good for the environment and good for the farmer. Are There Any New Areas To Be Explored In The Coming Years? To minimise the risk to farmers, we will validate and use technologies such as AI and ML [machine learning], gene editing, seed science and remote sensing, as well as technologies yet to be imagined, and ensure that market demand is supported and championed for a readily available, sustainable and varied diet consisting of nutritious and climate-adapted foods in the semi-regions.
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