Advancing agriculture in Mzansi through the use of the latest technology was at the forefront on the first day of the fourth Annual AFASA Young Farmers Summit held in Centurion, Gauteng.
Influencers in the tech industry and farmers discussed high-tech farming methods and how it advances their operations during a panel conversation led by Food For Mzansi’s co-founder, Ivor Price.
Young farmer and entrepreneur Olebogeng Mabe shared his experience with technology in the farming sector as a member of the panel. Mabe currently runs a farm as well as a construction company, among other entrepreneurial ventures. He believes that making use of technology is important, because it reduces output costs and simplifies the methods of production.
“The importance of technology is that with it you are able to run projects smart, efficient and safe. You save a lot of costs and you communicate easily with your clients or the role players in the value chain,” Mabe said.
The pace at which technology is advancing cannot be tamed. Panellist and founder of Gordios Farms, Matthew Callcott-Stevens, advised that young agriculturists should begin to embrace technology by making use of the new advances in their various agricultural fields.
“They should use technology in conjunction with their knowledge in agriculture. So basically, it’s for technology to not replace what they are doing on a daily basis, but rather to assist them,” Callcott-Stevens said.
Gordios Farms is a business-to-business agricultural marketplace, directly connecting farmers and manufacturers. Their primary focus is agricultural news, analytics, and data through which they aim to address some of the challenges facing agriculture and society in the modern world.
Nolwazi Mkize said that to farm is a big responsibility and she would like to congratulate everyone who decided to take up farming. She is the product stewardship manager for Africa Middle East at Corteva Agriscience.
Mkize added that young farmers should make use of technology because they are the future of food production.
“They must use the new technologies, but most importantly understand how new technologies work. And they must look after the technologies and the technology will look after their produce and their business.”
Matthew Piper, founder of the farmer’s app Khula, said that when launching a business, it is important to do more with less and to scale your business at a lower cost. Tech allows you to do just that.
With the Khula app they aim to create more efficient supply chains and it is a convergence of food, logistics, fintech and big data.
“You have limited resources and need to find a way to make it work. In our case we connect you to people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. Where farms are often far from markets it is easy to be exploited by middlemen. We use tech to bring these buyers and sellers closer together,” said Piper.