What does your preferred future of farming look like?

In short form, or as a short statement, we basically came up with the below to describe our preferred future state of farming.

What’s wrong with the statement, and how would you describe your preferred future of farming?

*Imagine a world in 2050 where farming systems are resilient, profitable for smallholder farmers, and provide affordable, nutritious, and healthy food for all and with minimum adverse environmental effects. *

The Goal 2 of Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) reiterates a renewed commitment to end hunger by 2030 and ensure that all people, in particular, the poor and people in vulnerable situations, have access to sufficient and safe nutritious food.

The edible plants serve as the largest supplier of human nutritive elements and minerals. There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world yet fewer than 20 species account for 90% of our food. However, there are hundreds of lesser-known edible plants all around the world which are both delicious and nutritious (NRC, 1989), and these plants show enormous varietal diversity (Genetic diversity). Genetic diversity serves as a way for plant populations to adapt to changing environments. With more genetic variation these nutrient-rich plants add additional nutrients, taste, flavour, and colour and improve the overall value of the food. The narrowing of diversity in crop species contributing to the world’s food supplies is a potential threat to food security (Khoury et al., 2015).

The commercial approach in agriculture promotes monoculture which reduces the on-farm diversity of the farm which has implications on nutrition dimension in the small holding farm families.

Therefore, in the backdrop of increasing food security concerns, it is important to integrate nutrition dimension in the Farming System and create awareness among farmers and nutrition literacy among consumers.

There is a gap in access to appropriate knowledge on nutritional aspects of different locally important crops and varieties and necessary planting materials for smallholders.
The need for nutrient-dense plots of biofortified crops can be an important intervention to strengthen the nutrition dimension in the farming system by addressing the gap. The nutri-dense and biofortified plants will provide food, nutrition and livelihood securities to local communities across the countries. The plots may be designed to provide planting materials of the required crops/varieties to smallholders the Crops they intend to introduce in their farming system to address specific micronutrient deficiencies.

@donseville, @halimi, @weih, what are your thoughts on our preferred future state, the one @SevagKechichian posted at the top? Do you think that’s what we should aim for? Would you change anything?

The preferred future state is our North Star in this project. Once we get to the stage of identifying breakthroughs, we’ll be asking ourselves: does this breakthrough make our preferred future state more likely or not? So it’s important that we get this right from the start.

The definition is rather broad and generic. As an ideal target, it’s fine for me, even if there may be differences in how each of us translates those elements (resilient, profitable,… ) in actual terms, or their real meaning. Just to make an example: what does “profitable” mean? Of course it should be at least above subsistance, but how much profitable? Enough to move to middle class money availability? No need for exact definitions now (it just gives direction, which is fine), but just some food for thought.

@HelgaDF and @michal, as two of our agro-tech innovators in the community, I wonder what you think the future of farming should look like?

Dear Nick. Thank you for asking.
In Atmonia we have been highly specialized within the field of nutrients in farming, aiming for a sustainable solution, for food production without compromise.

In a global context, all chemicals should be used to the extent necessary but not more, optimizing the use of those is one of the most important factors to prevent agricultural emissions and leaching of nutrients, as well as to reduce cost of raw materials and optimize yield. This can be done through AI to a certain extent, but only provided that the distribution technology is available and optimized methods are known, e.g. fertilization through irrigation (fertigation), drip irrigation etc.
Furthermore, the production of the raw material should be sustainable, and there should be a demand for a cradle-to-grave assessment of each product for emissions from production, humane working conditions and responsible use of resources.
The vision of a global obligated accreditation program (free of charge) for agriculture materials would provide such conformation.

For the profitability of Agriculture we need to shorten every value chain possible to lower raw material prices and increase margins and independence of the growers.

Within Atmonia we are developing one piece of the puzzle, a zero-carbon, on-farm N-fertilizer production process for precision farming. This is a small “domestic appliance” that operates on electricity and uses air and water as raw materials for the production of aqueous ammonium solution as N-fertilizer for direct distribution to field through fertigation/irrigation systems.

There are endless opportunities to such optimization but frequently these opportunities demand a long term development and extended Agronomy testing to reach market entry.

I like the short form statement but have concerns over the term “systems”. Not sure what that means, especially for poor countries and subsistence farmers.

I think we mean the combination of production and distribution. Is that right, @SevagKechichian?

The thrust is to democratize the future of farming for global food security, inclusive markets and for flourishing rural communities to encourage healthier ecosystems.

The need to empower smallholders to keep ecosystems and consumers healthy through sustainable farming, to leave poverty behind as thriving, independent agro-entrepreneurs and to feed soaring populations.

The regional (West/South Asia/China/UAE etc) demands are very different and dynamic in nature and it is very essential to distinguish between “change in demand” and “change in quantity demanded,” and to distinguish between “change in supply” and “change in quantity supplied” and as well as their relationships. Determinants of demand and supply are impacted by production, communication and transportation technologies.

Production technology - more output is produced, that is, the supply is increased and there is downward pressure on market price to escalate the market

Information technology - suppliers can learn about the demand of more consumers; consumers can learn about the availability of additional products.

Transportation technology - combining an awareness of potential buyers with the ability to deliver to them, producers begin to recognize an opportunity for additional demand. Thus information and transportation technologies have added consumers to the producer’s market. Consumers can use a similar combination of information and transportation to increase the number of suppliers they can access.

The trends in agriculture, to a large extent, are the result of advancing technologies, that may be best understood if addressed in terms of determinants of supply.

Irrespective of countries and regions, the landscape is changing rapidly in agricultural markets and trade, globally, around 24% of agriculture export value comes from imported inputs: industrial inputs (machinery and fertiliser) and services, as well agriculture and food.

Dear All,

Looking at the discussions I decide that my contribution will better fit in this section.
I believe the future of farming has a few main pillars: education, forest and land.

Education: we already lost for the majority of the western world the knowledge about farming. 50 years ago in Europe, there were still countries with a self-production systems. My grandmother was generating on 1000 sq. m the food for three families, a total of 10 persons. Today, mostly everywhere the backyards are green grass.
I dream to see this culture back.

Land: But, there is a problem about my dream. Today, there is no land for every family. But, we don’t needed. As I said, my grandmother had the land but generated the food for two more land-less families. Today, in Bulgaria, there are many families living in the city without land who are direct consumers to families farming in the villages.
The learning here is that the future needs to reborn the local connections between cities and their nearby villages. It is a challenge because of the global migration but maybe we can try to brainstorm solutions.

Forest: The biggest crisis to me is the killing of the forest. The forest is a machine for rain and water. We urgently need a large effort on a global scale to restore it. The problem here is the interests behind the modern ways to build a forest- mostly commercials. Then, the types of trees are limited number of variety which bring us to the green desert. First, we need to engage with those capitals in a positive way to show them their lost in profits. Once, the capital interests are convinced that variety in the forest means more profits the same as diversification of the investment, we can build a forest farming which shows to be much more sustainable and with higher production rates.

In my dream about the future, I see the rise of a new culture where local communities grow in a wonderful and rich forest and where the land multiplies over the earth in falling gardens.

@CREAIDEALAB, you may have seen this already, but sharing also for the sake of others: XPRIZE released its Future of Forests Impact Roadmap several weeks ago and we are currently gauging sponsor interest in funding forest-related prizes.

One of the things we discussed in the forest community was getting people to recognize the value of forests. I think that ties in with what you’re saying about a connection to the land. I wouldn’t argue it’s about land per se. We live in a second-floor apartment in a big city, but we grow tomatoes and cucumbers in a hydroponics garden. There are plenty of such urban farming initiatives, small-, medium- and large-scale. That seems worthwhile to me.

Water Stress is another important problem the world is facing today and in the next few decades, it will turn quite serious. The Capetown Water crisis incident has notably sifted concerns to every country of the earth.
Water quality is projected to be deteriorated in the coming decades as effluent from nutrients from wastewater, agriculture
With the change in climate and depleting resources, irrigation requirements and access to the water supply will suffer.

We see this happening today, particularly where municipal and industrial wastewater is partially treated and then used as irrigation water for agriculture.
Therefore, a key challenge for stands for water resources management agencies for the development of new advancements of supply.

The date is unnecessary and food, by definition, is or at least should be nutritious and healthy. Otherwise, it’s not food. “…and with minimum adverse environmental effects” can be shortened to “sustainable” which also covers resilient, profitable, and affordable.

How about:

“Imagine living on a civilized planet, where more than enough food is sustainably produced to satisfy everyone’s dietary needs.”

Civilized implies living harmoniously with one another and the natural systems. It also suggests hunger would come to an end, which would tend to increase harmony with one another and the natural systems. It may be idealistic and ultimately unattainable, but it’s a direction, a ‘North Star’ as Nick puts it.