Stories tagged: technology

JUN52018
Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum)

5 – 6 June, 2018

New York, US

As part of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism mandated by the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the annual collaborative Multi-stakeholder Forum on science, technology and innovation for the sustainable development Goals (STI Forum) is expected to “provide a venue for facilitating interaction, matchmaking and the establishment of networks between relevant stakeholders and multi-stakeholder partnerships in order to identify and examine technology needs and gaps, including with regard to scientific cooperation, innovation and capacity-building, and also in order to help facilitate development, transfer and dissemination of relevant technologies for the sustainable development goals.”

It will “discuss science, technology and innovation cooperation around thematic areas for the implementation of the sustainable development goals, congregating all relevant stakeholders to actively contribute in their area of expertise.”

The third annual Multi-stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum) will take place on 5-6 June 2018.

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Video: Feeding India with Finite Resources

“You can’t cook a cuisine with just one ingredient,” Indian farmer Balwinder Singh Kang tells Farming First TV. Farming, he explains is the same. “I don’t say you can only use one technology, I say use the best of everything.”

Mr. Kang has been farming for the past 30 years on a small farm at Hanumangarh in the state of Rajasthan. He grows GM cotton as well as conventional varieties of wheat, mustard, beans, and some vegetables. Not all technologies, however, are reaching him and his fellow farmers. Continue reading

Video: “Which Technologies Will Save Our Food Supply?” – Mark Rosegrant, IFPRI

Farming First TV interviewed Mark Rosegrant, Director of Environment and Production Technology at the International Food Policy Research Institute, to find out which agricultural technologies have the most promise for safeguarding the environment and boosting food security between now and 2050.

In reference to the report launched this year, “Food Security in a World of Growing Natural Resource Scarcity“, Rosegrant explained that climate change will hit agriculture hard, with as much as 20 to 30% of yields being lost. Continue reading

Mark Rosegrant: What is the Role of Agricultural Technologies for Global Food Security?

A wealth of technologies is now at our disposal for boosting yields of the world’s key staple crops, in order to face the large demands on our food supplies by 2050. But how can we measure which ones will be most effective, when, and where? Which combinations of technologies will have the largest impact? Until now, policymakers have struggled to make informed decisions on how to boost productivity in their regions in the most sustainable way.

The book “Food Security in A World of Natural Resource Scarcity: The Role of Agricultural Technologies” launched today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks to answer these questions. This ground breaking study divides the world’s arable land into a grid of 60 kilometre by 60 kilometre cells and shows how eleven different agricultural innovations might affect maize, wheat and rice yields by 2050 under climate change conditions. Through linking this yield assessment with a global economic model, the book also reports on technology impacts on food prices, trade and food security.

THE TECHNOLOGIES

The report reviews 11 agricultural technologies ranging from traditional low-tech practices to more advanced technologies:

1.         No-till – minimum or no soil disturbance, often in combination with retention of residues, crop rotation, and use of cover crops

2.         Integrated soil fertility management – a combination of chemical fertilizers, crop residues, and manure/compost

3.         Precision agriculture – GPS-assisted delivery of agricultural inputs, as well as low-tech management practices that aim to control all field parameters, from input delivery to plant spacing to water level

4.         Organic agriculture – cultivation with exclusion of or strict limits on the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and genetically modified organisms

5.         Water harvesting – water channelled toward crop fields from macro- or micro-catchment systems, or via earth dams, ridges, or graded contours

6.         Drip irrigation – water applied as a small discharge directly around each plant or to the root zone, often using microtubing

7.         Sprinkler irrigation – water distributed under pressure through a pipe network and delivered to the crop via overhead sprinkler nozzles

8.         Heat tolerance – improved varieties allowing the plant to maintain yields at higher temperatures

9.         Drought tolerance – improved varieties allowing better yields due to enhanced soil moisture uptake capabilities and reduced vulnerability to water deficiency

10.       Nitrogen-use efficiency – plants that respond better to fertilizers

11.       Crop protection – the practice of managing pests, plant diseases, weeds, and other pest organisms that damage agricultural crops

HUGE POTENTIAL FOR YIELD GROWTH AND HUNGER REDUCTION

The book finds that widespread adoption of these technologies can significantly reduce global hunger by 2050. The number of food-insecure people in developing countries in 2050 could be reduced by 12 percent if nitrogen use efficiency technologies were successfully developed and adopted, by 9 percent if no-till is adopted more aggressively and by 8 percent with widespread adoption of heat tolerance and precision agriculture.

The book also finds that the use of no-till on a global scale can increase biophysical maize and wheat yields by about 30 percent, with small variations depending on climate change scenario. On a regional scale, it could increase maize yields in Sub-Saharan Africa by more than 30 percent in rain-fed environments and more than 100 percent in irrigated environments.

On a global scale, biophysical yield impacts for crop protection products for disease, insects and weeds are close to 10 percent each across the three crops; and will constitute an important tool to address likely growing pest pressures under both intensification and climate change.

Irrigation water savings on fields under drip irrigation are 24 to 27 percent, depending on crop and climate change scenario, much higher than water savings for sprinkler irrigation systems calculated at 11 to 12 percent.

DIFFERENT REGIONS REQUIRE DIFFERENT TECHNOLOGIES

Agricultural technology impacts differ substantially by region and within regions by country. For example, when the impact of drought tolerance is tested globally, it seems to have a low impact, as drought only affects some regions in some seasons and years. Yet at the right time in the right region, impacts can be significant. Detailed drought yield assessment in the United States and China, two of the world’s largest maize producers shows yield benefits of up to 13 percent for this technology and crop.

Given that the study generated vast datasets on these technologies and crops for all countries in the world under varying climate change scenarios, an online tool has been developed to allow policymakers and researchers hands-on access to the results.

COMBINED TECHNOLOGIES FOR MAXIMUM IMPACT

Combining multiple technologies (or ‘stacking’ them) can have an even greater impact. Adopting the three types of crop protection (weed, disease and insects) together could reduce the number of food-insecure people by close to 9 percent.

Moreover, if all technologies with positive yield impacts were adopted together for these three crops, prices of maize, wheat and rice could be reduced by 49 percent, 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively. This is equivalent to reducing the number of people at risk of hunger by 40 percent.

This first of its kind study can truly equip decision makers to take action now to secure a sustainable food supply for a healthy planet in 2050.

Find out more by visiting www.ifpri.org/publication/food-security-world-natural-resource-scarcity

Food Security in a World of Growing Natural Resource Scarcity

Digital Green: Agricultural Extension Goes Viral in India

Agriculture accounts for between 50-60% of the workforce in India. India is also the country that dedicates the second largest workforce to agriculture extension, employing more than 100,000 people to share knowledge on best agricultural practice.

Yet several barriers have hindered adoption of best practice in India, from illiteracy levels in rural communities, to lack of access to cost-effective technology and the limited mobility of extension agents. In 2006, US born Rikin Gandhi set up an organisation that would significantly break down these barriers for the first time. Six years later, his platform Digital Green has reached nearly 118,000 Indian farmers.

“We like to say that Digital Green is essentially American Idol for Indian farmers”, Rikin smiles. This means that Indian farmers are coached to ‘star’ in their own videos that demonstrate an agricultural practice that is relevant to their local area, in their local language. These videos are then shared, by the numerous extension agencies that Digital Green partners with. The extension agents use a low-cost, battery operated pico projector, that is able to work in areas with limited electricity. Since the programme’s inception in 2006, over 2,000 videos have been produced.

“The aim is to improve the efficiency of the existing extension agencies that we partner with”, Rikin comments. Digital Green now works in six states in India, across 1200 villages, reaching well over 100,000 farmers. Video content produced varies greatly, given that the challenges that face farmers across India vary with each region. Rikin commented that the most popular video on Digital Green is one teaching farmers about the cultivation of Azolla. Azolla is an aquatic fern that when fed to cattle can boost their milk production by up to one litre. “This practice started off in one corner of a state we worked in about six years ago, and now we see it all across the six states we work in.”

This example video demonstrates the key aspects of all Digital Green videos. Videos are recorded in local languages and dialects, making them easy to understand, and local farmers are the ‘actors’, meaning they are by farmers, for farmers, of farmers. The reconnection with local communities is the defining feature of this extension model; as the farmers that watch the videos feel inspired by fellow farmers in similar circumstances. Statistics available on the Digital Green website are testament to the success of this model, showing that of the farmers adopting new agricultural practices, over half had seen a Digital Green video in the last 60 days.

The Digital Green revolution is growing, with an average of 80 videos shown to farmers daily. To find out more, visit www.digitalgreen.org, or follow @digitalgreenorg on Twitter.

Uganda Puts Technology To Work For Agriculture Sector

The Ugandan Government has launched a technology adaptation and transfer scheme where local welders are to be employed to make technology to be used in agriculture, says this recent article on AllAfrica.com. This scheme is said to have started attracting youths already.

This move, coupled with the recent independence for South Sudan and the increasingly unpredictable weather, is seen as an opportunity to guide the Government’s efforts to improve the countries agricultural sector.

The new technologies included fresh cassava shredders and maize cob sorters.

The Minister of State for Industry Dr. James Mutende said that he wants the youth to begin appreciating the role of agriculture in job creation – that technologies can be hired out commercially, and may improve agriculture and the quality of produce, meaning it can be sold for higher prices.

These technologies can also go to prevent post-harvest losses, which have traditionally been high in Uganda.