What Is Innovation?
Innovation is an important factor when it comes to sustainability in agriculture. Responding to climate change, sustainability should be ensured to preserve water, land and biodiversity resources. To respond to opportunities and meet these challenges, it will be important to embrace innovative approaches to boost productivity. An agroecosystem needs production systems that can withstand natural stressors such as pests, diseases, and harsh climatic conditions, trade barriers, and economic cycles to be sustainable. The market for staple crops in various parts of the world is increasing rapidly which means that various ways have to be enforced to meet the rising demand and at the same time not replenishing the available resources. Innovation is hence required to enhance productivity growth and at the same time improving sustainability. To achieve sustainable use of resources, it is important to transform the existing patterns of production and consumption. Sustainable agriculture aims to meet the current food demand without replenishing the available resources.
Benefits of Innovation
Innovation starts with improving seeds and irrigation systems. Industries need to innovate new and better products both in the food sector and the chemical industry. Innovation has many benefits in the agriculture sector. For instance,
- It helps in solving problems and increasing the market share in the export market.
- It reduces farming costs and wastage of resources, leaving farmers in a better position to focus on their long-term goals.
- Innovation leads to increased turnover and improved profitability.
- It also boosts the market position of Kenyan products.
- Innovation in farming results in higher crop yields. Innovation facilitates the development of better crops that can thrive in harsh conditions, resistant to most pests and diseases and at the same time producing high-quality yields.
Innovations That promote sustainable agriculture
Technology: Artificial Intelligence and Io T
Precision agriculture is already gaining popularity and its widely used in various parts of the world to improve productivity. This ranges from big data to the use of drones, robots and the application of herbicides and fertilizers using aerial vehicles. These innovations can be used to automate farming practices, monitor crops and to optimize planting schedules. Since technology assists in conservation efforts, many countries are concentrating on agritech. Lately, there have been concerns arising over agricultural sustainability such as predicting water shortages soon. This means that farmers have to employ smart farming to ensure efficient water use. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) can be used to collect and analyze data from their farms and the surrounding environment to help farmers to implement appropriate farming practices. This can enable farming even in areas with limited water access and enhance sustainable agriculture. Based on information technology, an integrated farm management solution can be an effective way of modernizing the management of natural resources. Technological innovation in agriculture extends the farmer’s capacity by automating most tasks, enhancing farm management, agronomy, and crop management. For instance, the various software design enables farmers to apply precise fertilization strategies based on the crop conditions which helps farmers to boost yields and also reduce reliance on fertilizers.
Agroecology incorporates the farmer’s knowledge and experience with scientific insight and modern ecology. Based on the agroecological approach, everything produced on the farm is beneficial. For instance, debris and animal droppings can be used to make manure that improves soil quality. In return, the yields and nutritional values of the crops increases. Agricultural waste can also be used to feed animals.
The extensive use of chemicals and fertilizers has made the management of pests and diseases more complicated. Constant use of chemicals has resulted in the evolution of resistant breeds of pests. Chemicals and fertilizers have also resulted in water pollution, destroying the soil and the ecosystem. The European Union and China provide the largest market for Kenyan products. However, they have enforced strict measures to minimize the entry of pests into their territories. Recently, the new EU Plant Health Regulation (2016/2031) was enforced which illustrates that plants getting into the European Union should be pest-free. Previously, the EU had stopped importing Kenyan chili due to the presence of the Codling moth on chili. Although Kenya and Uganda have opted to sell chili in the middle-east where the demand is high, the prices are relatively low compared to Europe. The shift in markets has been facilitated by EU’s trade restrictions based on the presence of pests especially quarantine pests.
The phytosanitary requirements imposed by the international market poses challenges in the agriculture sector. For instance, the set MRL means that farmers have to apply pesticides at a controlled rate hence not fully eliminating the targeted pest or disease. Integrated Pest Management can be a good solution to these challenges. Bio-solutions and bio-fertilizers help in suppressing harmful pests while still improving the soil system.
The demand for food is constantly rising as the global population
increases. The increased urbanization also facilitates the high demand and
therefore smart techniques need to be employed to meet this demand. Since the
demand for food is putting pressure on the environment, there is a need for
sustainable farming to ensure that agriculture does not contribute to climate
change. The European Union and China are emphasizing on sustainability in
agriculture and its high time that farmers start employing smart farming