ICYMI: Investing in tech key to agri development

Mzansi’s farmers may have many challenges keeping them up at night but investing in technology is the best survival tactic.

This is according to Professor Andre Jooste of the Stellenbosch University department of agricultural economics. He was speaking on day two of the 2023 Africa Agri Tech Conference.

“We need to have increased investment in information technology, and technologies, increased sustainability, and better flow of information.

“Investment into technical developments can ensure that farmers on the ground can receive profit,” Jooste told farmers and leaders in technology and agriculture.

The conference kicked off on Tuesday at the Menlyn Maine Hotel in Pretoria.

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Look to engineering and agri-science

Jooste’s speech on resilience during adversity was followed by a robust panel discussion featuring Dr Albert Strever, senior lecturer and coordinator of the Agri Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Stellenbosch University.

Strever impressed the importance of technical innovation in agriculture and explained that such innovation would be beneficial to transform the future of South African agriculture.

Looking into the state of South African agricultural technology in the next 20 years, Loffie Brandt, head of sales enablement at Absa Agribusiness suggested that the development of current and basic technology would lead to improvement.

“Digital acumen and leadership and management still needs to be implemented, but the answer also lies in engineering and agri-science,” he told attendees.

Brandt added that a possible investment venture could be synergistic technology. Among others, these improve the movement of farmers, especially when it comes to heavy loads and moving fragile crops like fruits.

Banks also moving with the times

He further explained why banks would be critical in investing in these technologies. Previously banks were mostly used for their primary role of providing typical banking functions, but now banks are more prone to providing farmers with funds to invest in technical developments in their farms, Brandt said.

“Technology puts us in a position to measure inputs and outputs. It all comes down to efficiency and farmers who don’t adapt technologically, will not exist in the future,” said Brandt.

The last day of the conference will focus on missed opportunities in agriculture and will feature presentations by Wandile Sihlobo, the chief economist of Agbiz, Professor Johann Kirsten, the director of the Bureau for Economic Research at Stellenbosch University, and many more.

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