Smallholders gain more attention in global ag space

Smallholders gain more attention in global ag space

Horticulture
BETTER: Digital technology is helping smallholder growers in developing nations to access agriculture information to improve their yields.

BETTER: Digital technology is helping smallholder growers in developing nations to access agriculture information to improve their yields.

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Smaller growers in developing nations are benefiting from digital agriculture.

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AG-VET chemical producer Bayer has sent out strong signals that it is putting considerable focus on smaller farmers and those in developing nations.

Referred to as "smallholders", smaller family farms and subsistence farmers stand to benefit from a determined approach by the chemical giant to improve life for those at the smaller end of town.

At this month's Bayer Future of Farming dialogue in Germany, it committed to the ambitious goal of improving the conditions for 100 million smallholder farmers around the world, with the aim of moving them from a world of poverty to one of dignity through access to sustainable agricultural solutions.

In speaking about sustainability, Bayer Ag's head of public affairs and sustainability, Matthias Berninger, said it was vital to consider the human factor when talking about improving farming around the world.

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"What excites me about Bayer is that we are a company that can help people reach that better life," he said.

The software platform, FarmRise was cited as an example of helping small farmers in India to access production information.

Developed in 2018 by The Climate Corporation, the program provides key agronomic information to farmers through their mobile devices to help improve their operations.

It currently serves about 100,000 monthly active users.

DIGITAL: The Climate Corporation chief science officer, Sam Eathington, says digital farming is enabling individual, personalised solutions, tailored to each farm's needs in developing countries.

DIGITAL: The Climate Corporation chief science officer, Sam Eathington, says digital farming is enabling individual, personalised solutions, tailored to each farm's needs in developing countries.

The Climate Corporation chief science officer, Sam Eathington, said digital farming was enabling individual, personalised solutions, tailored to each farm's needs.

One digital product discussed was FieldView, developed The Climate Corporation.

The device, which plugs into a piece of machinery's diagnostic outlet, provides growers with crop tracking in real time.

"In 2018, FieldView was on more than 60 million paid acres globally. This year, the company is currently on track to achieve its target of 90 million paid acres," he said.

"The platform enables farmers to easily collect and visualise field data, analyse and evaluate crop performance and manage their field variability through customised fertility and seeding plans, to optimise crop productivity.

"We see a one-billion-acre opportunity where our digital technologies can be used to positively and sustainably improve the world's food system."

But International Potato Centre Latin America and the Caribbean regional director, Ginya Truitt Nakata said helping smallholder producers meant more than showing them a new device.

"You can't throw more technology at this problem anymore," Ms Truitt said.

"Not all solutions work in all areas. The smallholder farmers are the ones protecting the biodiversity of our food system.

"You've got to start investing into those areas that you don't think work. Invest in areas that make us uncomfortable."

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