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The next five years will see big changes in our food systems. One of the biggest challenges will be to educate the urban audience on the importance of agriculture. As the consumer discovers they have access to information to make smarter food decisions, globalisation effects will mean food production will continue to be shaped by consumer demands. There will need to be more transparency in the entire food chain, with intensive systems and a greater reliance on technology. But this will help deliver better sustainability efforts and improve education to deal with changing climate and protection of soils and other key resources.
This will bring opportunities for the innovative farmer and roles for the next generations in agriculture. Farmers will look different; there will be fewer traditional farmers as automation will help to deliver a wider choice of food, so its externalities of less transparency and longer chains will need to be balanced. As farming diverges, getting bigger and more corporate, a new smaller breed of niche farms will emerge; however increases in red tape and reliance on subsidies could potentially stifle production.
Sustainable production is crucial to meet demand efficiently. Consumers need to understand how their food is produced and have some insight into those who produce it. Such education will not only allow shared knowledge, shared experiences, and shared goals from farmer to consumer, but also between consumers. Globalisation can make people recognise and value what they have closer to home much more and if consumers care more about local food then they will worry less about the global aspects of long production chains and imports of foreign produce. Yet this requires a network of similarly committed farmers working together, and over a worldwide digital mainframe then not only can niche markets protect against global commodity prices but farmers and other rural SMEs will have more power and influence in the supply chain, thus increasing the perception of value of local food by consumers.
Weather will always be a an uncontrollable challenge; good management and forward planning offer the opportunity with technology to seek advice on problems and to improve communication and encourage collaboration. Farming is adopting social media as a tool for positive change, and these efforts to work together globally will intensify. The triumvirate of communication, collaboration and coordination will help drive economic change in the face of rising demand and consumption, and social media can pull down barriers of geography to address the pressures of food security and sustainable agriculture.
Q1 Please introduce yourself by saying who you are, where you’re from and what food you produce- & share any farm pictures! Tell us about agriculture in your country: what agriculture is your country famous for and what are you most proud of?