What agriculture can teach the world in 2017

Agriculture is one of the biggest industries in the world. It employs most of the continent of Africa and continues to be essential to every person on the planet. Given the state of the world as we enter 2017, it’s important for us to think about what happened in the agricultural world that could possibly aid other spheres. While the focus for much of agriculture mimics that of any other business, the world itself is still heavily dependent on its success. Unlike many other large scale businesses, agriculture is essential for everyone’s survival. To that end, it’s worth looking at what lessons agriculture can spread beyond its own fields.

Focus on green

Agriculture is often the focus for green initiatives. Indeed, there’s an entire focus on “green agriculture”. One report defined it as:

“Green agriculture should include diverse, locally adaptable techniques and practices that aim at increasing yields while simultaneously taking care of increasing return on labor, improving ecosystem services and reducing waste and inefficiency in food chains. Those techniques can be based on natural methods of pest and weed management and organic sources of fertilizer and seed. However, relevant are also technologically advanced solutions that involve highly efficient and precise use of inorganic fertilizers and pest controls.”

The point behind a green approach is, obviously, to help make the planet better. However, it should be noted, as with many green initiatives, the focus is on efficiency. And by being more efficient, agriculture can naturally save on expenses. This reaps more rewards for the industry, thus keeping it alive and able to continue employing people.

This idea finds itself at home in all business. For example, by focusing on those areas in your home or office that can be greener, you end up saving in the long run. As Entrepreneur notes:

“As more companies work toward being environmentally friendly, they are also learning that going green is saving them money. This leaves more money on the table to stash in the business savings account and invest back into the business. Going green comes with many advantages, including tax credits, less clutter around the office, and clarity of the mind to do the most important tasks.”

Thus by going green, as agriculture is doing, anyone can save money. This means businesses as a whole can, too.

Keeping up with tech

Agriculture is often the focus for technological progress. As ZDNet noted, for example, the Internet of Things and agriculture makes for a perfect combination.

“Prospera, a company founded about [two] years ago by a team of computer scientists and agronomists, has built some very interesting technology that centers around monitoring crop growth, in order to optimize it. While farmers have long had some data — like weather readings and low-resolution satellite images — available to them, it turns out not to be enough. And even if it were, weather data from a government weather station — which might be 30km away from the actual growing area — doesn’t deliver the ‘hyper-local’ climate data that is crucial.”

Naturally, tech is expensive which could mean that we’ll see more agricultural finance become central to many farms. After all, they need to find the money somewhere to acquire these latest gadgets and install relevant devices.

This applies to wider areas, too. The business world cannot afford to ignore tech progress. Any that do so are doomed to be left behind, as the world marches forward. Here we see a clear example of an industry embracing the Internet of Things. Corporations should begin thinking similarly: how can these new concepts benefit the work environment? With digital workforces becoming the norm, businesses must look wider and see what implementation is possible to help productivity – just as the agricultural sector is doing.

Indeed, it is even more important for the agricultural industry to develop further. Agriculture is necessary to feed the world. And as populations grow, as the economy enters volatile phases, now is the time to begin being proactive about what this means.

Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific gave a speech at the Fifth Global Forum of Leaders for Agricultural Science and Technology. This was hosted by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, co-organized by FAO (UN Food and Agriculture). Kadiresan noted: “The role of science and technology to reduce hunger and poverty is not only achieved by boosting agricultural productivity, but also delivering the innovation benefit to people who need support as well as conservation of what we should pass down to the next generation. We owe that to our children and their children.”

With this in mind, we can see how agriculture’s steps toward innovation is driven toward feeding the world but also how its moves resonate outside. Businesses would do wise to follow agriculture’s developments, as it not only affects them directly, but also demonstrates smart moves that help drive their particular industry forward.