FAO Urges Sustainable, Equitable Mechanisation
Mechanisation possesses the potential to instigate profound transformations, provided it upholds environmental sustainability and ensures the inclusion of all, particularly women and smallholder farmers.
Qu Dongyu, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), made this declaration during a recent address.
Given the alarming levels of global hunger and food insecurity, with over 3 billion people still unable to access nutritious food, the urgency to revamp agrifood systems for enhanced efficiency, inclusivity, resilience, and sustainability has never been more pronounced.
Qu underscored the need for innovation and preparedness, emphasising that maintaining the status quo is no longer a viable option.
Groundbreaking technologies like satellite systems, GPS, robotics, artificial intelligence, and automated machinery are already shaping the future of agriculture. Autonomous drones are now responsible for monitoring crop health, while robots adeptly identify and remove weeds and perform intricate tasks like pruning and fruit picking.
Automated equipment exhibits remarkable precision in planting, fertilisation, and harvesting, while sensors and satellites have revolutionised agriculture by providing data-driven insights that enhance farmers' decision-making capabilities.
Further instances of sustainable agricultural mechanisation encompass direct planters, which reduce soil disturbance and diminish the need for extensive tillage, as well as tractors powered by methane derived from organic sources such as plants and manure.
The core principles guiding advanced and emerging technologies must remain sustainable and inclusive, ensuring that their benefits are accessible to all, particularly the farmers themselves. These technologies and equipment must be adaptable to local contexts, affordable, and accessible. Moreover, they must not inadvertently exacerbate the digital divide by overlooking women and youth, as emphasised by Qu.
The conference held from September 27 to 29, which adopted a hybrid format at FAO's headquarters in Rome, is of paramount significance as it centres discussions around the concept of the "Four Betters."
This event brought together over 8,000 participants from across the globe, encompassing FAO Members, universities, agricultural scientists, mechanisation service providers, development agencies, policymakers, extension specialists, civil society representatives, opinion leaders, and private sector stakeholders.
Its primary objectives include serving as a neutral platform for focused dialogue on sustainable agricultural mechanisation, raising awareness about its role in achieving FAO's strategic framework and Sustainable Development Goals, sharing knowledge on global mechanisation trends, and showcasing FAO's technical leadership and convening power.
Qu Dongyu encapsulated the essence of mechanisation and automation as catalysts for transformation while stressing the indispensable requirement for sustainability and economic viability.
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