Technology has played a key role in driving major agricultural advancements in the West and in Asia over the last century. The Netherlands, for example, ranks as the second biggest exporter of food in the world despite its relatively small land area. It leverages technology and sustainable agriculture with the goal of producing twice as much food using half as many resources. In Asia, China’s agriculture industry is modernizing at its fastest pace ever, using more technology to scale up, meet higher standards and ensure food security.
In Africa, agricultural technology is still at its infancy. Farming still mostly takes place on small-scale subsistence farms using rudimentary and archaic methods. Productivity levels are low, leading the continent to spend an estimated $68 billion annually on food imports. Key findings from the United Nations (UN)’s 2017 Population Prospects revealed that 54% of the 2.4 billion people to be added to the world’s population by 2050 will come from Africa. Technology is a critical enabler needed to transform Africa’s agricultural sector to provide abundant, quality, affordable, and nutritious food to its growing population, by enhancing farming systems, increasing crop efficiency and strengthening value chain integration while ensuring environmental sustainability.
According to Policy Horizons Canada, emerging technologies that could accelerate growth in the agriculture sector in the years up to 2025 include Sensors, Food and Engineering (Bioengineering), and Automated Technologies. Mobile technologies could also drive disruptive agricultural transformation in the coming years.