Web 2.0 and social media are the past, now the digitization of everything is the game and agriculture isn’t an exception.
By Muhammad Irfan Kasana
But before going into this allow me to make a revelation about the AgriTech ecosystem. In my humble opinion, we can segregate this into three facets i.e. SERVICES oriented solutions like agronomic advisories, Satellite imagery, weather forecasts, market rates, etc. through IVR or smartphones; INTEGRATION with financial and input suppliers like banks for loans, farm inputs suppliers, logistics providers, etc. on a unified digital platform and PREDICTABLE modeling based on historical data sets like exact sowing dates, soil analysis, fertilizer calculation, harvesting, etc.
As per the study, we need 50% more food to meet the global demand by 2050. On the other hand, agriculture alone is responsible for almost one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. And believe me, the changing weather patterns are directly correlated with this and its impact on production isn’t good. Food wastage is another challenging task. As per studies, the wastage of fruits and vegetables in a country like Pakistan is around 35-40% whereas for grain is 15-20%. The financial instability of small landowners also needs serious attention. Generally, it is considered that 80% of farmers are small landowners. This can not be over-emphasized, farmers are the key stakeholders of the agriculture ecosystem. So, AgriTech has to prioritize its needs in the areas mentioned above.
In Pakistan, there are dozens of Agritech players who are putting their efforts to uplift the Agriculture sector across all verticals. Their ultimate goal is to enhance quality production with the same set of available resources, promote climate-smart agriculture practices, and to create new opportunities for the youth to accomplish financial stability within the whole value chain. Though the majority of these are in the struggling phase but believe me the captains are young, energetic, and very clear in their vision and goal.
Now, the question arises, are these AgriTech startups capable to feed the ever-growing population and convert small landowner farming into climate-smart agriculture? To me, the answer is very simple i.e. YES! With the advancement in technologies, it is possible now to accomplish this with the combination of AI, Remote Sensing, and Digitization of all verticals. My humble advice is, they have to make the middlemen/vendors their partners.
Last but not the least, I am very much optimistic about the AgriTech industry and that day is not far away when all value chain actors become a part of these digital platforms to deliver the farm-fresh produce on multiple avenues as well as on consumers’ doorsteps with digital payment options just like pizza.