The Future Of The Farm
Finweek English|9 April 2021
Agricultural technology innovation is evolving at an unprecedented pace with SA farmers embracing the change.
Johan Fourie

Agriculture is not what it used to be. My grandfather was an ostrich farmer in the Klein-Karoo, with a small dairy on the side to make ends meet. He raised seven children and supported a handful of farm workers on a small plot of land that was more likely to deliver soil erosion than bumper crops. From what I remember he had a tractor and a combine harvester and a lot of grit. And that is still largely my mental picture of agriculture today: the lonely farmer toiling away on his tractor, praying for rain.

That view, though, is utterly outdated. Agriculture, as Forbes magazine noted in February, is one of the most innovative industries at present. Investment in artificial intelligence (AI) agricultural technology is skyrocketing. PwC predicts that Internet-of-Thingsenabled agriculture (or IoTAg) will be a $4.5bn industry by 2025. And this is not a rich country phenomenon only. Thabi Nkosi is managing partner at African Green Alpha, a food and agriculture private equity fund manager. She explains most farming in SA has already made the switch. “To increase competitiveness, the use of advanced irrigation methods, remote sensing and drone technology is commonplace. I’m excited about technologies focusing on water efficiency and crop protection.”

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