Technology has the potential to change the future landscape of the agriculture sector if used effectively and if participants are willing to “think bigger”, FutureWorld futurist and entrepreneur Craig Wing said on Tuesday.
With ever-changing technologies in the fourth industrial revolution, it is necessary to adjust to the new world and adopt a TechAgri approach as opposed to an AgriTech model, he noted.
“Cognitive computing in agriculture is going to be the most disruptive force in the industry, as big as the green economy,” he told delegates at the Agribusiness Africa conference, in Kempton Park.
However, it will depend on the sector’s willingness to rethink the way things are done.
Speaking to Engineering News Online on the sidelines of the conference, Wing pointed out that the agriculture sector currently focused on the process technologies that could deliver that extra 10% improvement.
He believes there should rather be a focus on “ten times”, which required a fundamental change in mindset and learning new approach models.
Advances in technology can go beyond the delivered efficiencies with enhanced monitoring, cost savings and environmental benefits, as well as autonomous vehicles, farm robots, drones and precision in planting, fertilisation and irrigation.
He cited the popular examples of how Uber, AirBnB and Alibaba had used technology to become the biggest players in their respective industries – without owning the assets themselves.
This could translate into South Africa’s agricultural industry, which already had the core components – water, soil and land – but still needed to leverage it in a whole new way.
“It’s a question of exposure, of learning the willingness to have the hard conversations that there are other options out there,” he told delegates.