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Home / The Farmers’ Kraal by Charles Tjatindi - Overcoming hurdles in agriculture

The Farmers’ Kraal by Charles Tjatindi - Overcoming hurdles in agriculture

2021-01-05  Charles Tjatindi

The Farmers’ Kraal by Charles Tjatindi - Overcoming hurdles in agriculture

Agriculture is a topic that concerns everybody. Today, agriculture faces some huge challenges. The world population has exploded in the past decades and it is still rising. At the same time, arable land tends to become smaller worldwide.  

In many parts of the world, including my region, people don’t suffer food scarcity anymore. This is due to an intensification and some improvements in agriculture – and thanks to imports from abroad. But this intensification of agriculture has caused great damage to our environment. Just today, this damage is becoming increasingly visible to us.  There are no simple answers to agriculture’s challenges. Could there still be hope? 

Farmers must meet the changing needs of our planet and the expectations of regulators, consumers, and food processors and retailers. 
There are increasing pressures from climate change, soil erosion and biodiversity loss – and from consumers’ changing tastes in food and concerns about how it is produced. And the natural world that farming works with, plants, pests and diseases continue to pose their own challenges.  While modern agriculture provides a large number of solutions, the outcome is not always the same because each farm is unique: different landscapes, soils, available technology and potential yields.  Farmers need to deal with many problems, including how to cope with climate change, soil erosion and biodiversity loss, satisfy consumers’ changing tastes and expectations,  as well as to meet rising demand for more food of higher quality 

It is, therefore, imperative that farmers adapt to climate change. The effects of climate change affect farmers’ ability to grow the food we all need.  Increasingly volatile weather and more extreme events like floods and droughts change growing seasons, limit the availability of water, allow weeds, pests and fungi to thrive, and can reduce crop productivity. Soil erosion is reducing the amount of land available for agriculture, and declining biodiversity affects the pollination of crops. At the same time, farmers are under pressure to conserve water and use fewer agricultural inputs. 

As they adapt to these changes, farmers also need to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions contributed by agriculture through adopting climate-smart practices – a new learning journey for many. 
The world’s farmland is shrinking, and so are the possibilities of some types of farming modes. Hence, choosing the best approach to your type of farming – be it livestock, horticulture or agronomy – is crucial. 

Consumer needs and expectations drive the food value chain – as such, farmers need to meet rising demand for more food of higher quality. In recent years, there has been a shift in focus from concern about ‘enough food’ to ‘good food’. Society has rising expectations of farmers to reduce their impact on the environment, to increase the nutritional content of crops and to further minimisse chemical residues in crops and the environment. 

While large-scale farmers may be able to afford to invest, smallholders don’t always have access to an affordable source of credit.  Farmers must then learn how to best use these technologies to improve their business. 
A farmer’s business decisions are complicated by global economic factors like fluctuating commodity prices and trade issues, and the fact that a harvest can be affected by weather, insects or disease. 

There’s also the question: who is going to farm in the future? As millions of people from rural areas migrate to cities each year, farmers need to inspire enough of them to remain and build a career in agriculture. 
The solutions are by no way some low-hanging fruits but worth the effort in the end. - tjatindi@gmail.com 


2021-01-05  Charles Tjatindi

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