Precision agriculture and shared work: The great challenges

The executive of the main agricultural bank of the world states that the formula to face the growing need for food in some parts of the planet is for small farmers to work together and thus share the knowledge and technology that each one possesses.

The problem is known: by 2050 food production must double with the same or even fewer resources -water and land-. Faced with the challenge at Rabobank, the main agricultural bank in the world, they work with what they call "the agriculture of the future", which proposes formulas for farmers to optimize their results with the same resources. Bart IJntema, vice president of rural development banking at Rabobank, who participated in the recent Congress of the Future, presented some of the challenges for Revista del Campo.


Technology, innovation, shared knowledge and good practices. If you compare the different countries you can see that in some there is no climate or optimal soils, but results. For example, in Western Europe there are fields where up to 90% of its capacity is obtained, but in Africa, with better soils, climate and better water conditions, you find that they only reach 20% of their potential. It also goes to Latin America, which only produces the 50% or the 60% of what it can. If we could deliver all the same resources; that is, access to financing, knowledge, networks and markets would probably produce more.

On the other hand, a third of the food we produce is wasted. That's the same as 4.3 trillions of tons of food every year. That's the amount you need to feed 2 one billion people. So, what we have to do is a combination: we have to be smarter to produce in areas where we can produce more and make sure no waste is left.

How do you get involved with small farmers?

They have to work together. Because if you are small and you want access to technology, if you join with others, you can probably get the capital.

… I know farmers who have organic fields; but based on adequate skills they are able to have the same yields as their neighbors who use chemicals and fertilizers. I do not say that everyone has to be organic farmers. If not, it has to do with sharing knowledge and innovation of course. .

... My advice is: if you feel that on your own you can improve your position, then join a corporation to have better access and be sure that the product is sold at the right price.


If you really believe in the future of agriculture, in that you have to produce more food for the growing population of the planet, if you believe that Chile can play an important role in that being a net exporter, then as a government you have to take the responsibilities to make sure that the right regulations will work to get the union of farmers. If you do not do it, I do not think you take your responsibilities as a leader. So, if there is any doubt, I would like to invite those leaders to Holland or other countries where we will show them how well this system works, how it worked in the past and how it works now and how that can make farmers successful.


What do you mean by smart agriculture?

I understand how to apply all available technology to the field and use it to get the best out of it. It may sound easy, but first you have to look at whether it is appropriate for each farmer. Because if a farmer moves to precision agriculture, but does not like it, does not have the necessary knowledge or lacks the proper basic principles, then he will not use it correctly and it will not be precision agriculture, but in practice it will be Clutter agriculture.


Should banking and the financial system have a clear focus on agriculture?

Absolutely. Agriculture and food production are a complex system. If you do not understand that this is a long-term business, then it is better to stay outside.

How is it possible for entities in the financial system to feel that the business of agriculture is attractive?

It's very difficult to say. We are in this business because we believe in it; if others do not, I can not change it. You have to look at the numbers, but you also have to look through them. It is understandable that if you do not understand them, do not remain in the business. We have been in food and agriculture for more than 100 years, so it is not within my reach to say what else can be done. You believe in this or you do not believe.

Source: Field Magazine

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