How global trends will affect local agriculture

Speaking at the recent Agbiz media day held in Pretoria, Agbiz CEO John Purchase, said the local agricultural sector was operating in a challenging and complex global economy.

How global trends will affect local agriculture
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The Fourth Industrial Revolution [the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies] was having a marked impact on precision farming practices, and would also affect the way in which transactions were conducted in the future, he said.

“Blockchain and Bitcoin are real, and while there’s debate about [the viability] of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies are real and will be used in the trade environment in future,” Purchase said.

This will mean that the sector will need individuals to be trained in using these new technologies, he added.

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“Trade wars will be the wars of the future. President Donald Trump came into power using the trade ticket by saying he will build a wall [between the US and Mexico] and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. What happens in multi-plural trade agreements and Africa being marginalised, are issues that agriculture will be faced with in the future.

Organised agriculture will have to get involved in [negotiations to open up] new markets. If we don’t have trained people in our economy, we won’t be able to compete in a global marketplace,” he said.

According to Purchase, the global balance of power had changed and was now not revolving solely around the economies of the US and the EU. The economies of China and India were now growing at more than 5%/year for sustained periods of time.

“Brexit can [also present] opportunities for South African agriculture. There is already talks about how trade between the UK and South Africa may look in future,” he said.

In addition, Africa’s population was expected to double from one billion to two billion people by 2050, which either posed a critical risk or a massive opportunity to local producers, Purchase said.

“In the areas where there’s population growth, there is weak food security that can’t support the growth. If these populations move either north or south it will put pressure on local resources,” he explained.

Infrastructure challenges such as water and power supply to rural areas would also negatively affect the local agricultural value chain in the future, Purchase said.

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Gerhard Uys grew up as a real city lad, but spends his free time hiking and visiting family farms. He learnt the journalism trade as a freelance writer and photographer in the lifestyle industry, but having decided that he will be a cattle farmer by the age of 45 he now indulges his passion for farming by writing about agriculture. He feels Farmer’s Weekly is a platform for both developed and emerging farmers to learn additional farming skills and therefore takes the job of relaying practical information seriously.