Much has already been said about the way in which the shift from the hunter-gatherer way of life to a more agrarian approach provided the foundation for civilization and society. Unfortunately, it’s easy to overlook the fact that agriculture continues to help today’s nations thrive. While those who work in the agriculture and agrochemicals sector may be well aware of the impact that farms have on a country’s citizens, economy, and infrastructure, people outside the industry can easily overlook certain essential truths.
It’s important not to. Lawmakers - and the citizens who vote for them - must always remember the role that agriculture plays in a nation’s growth. Major points to consider include the following:
Agriculture and the Economy
Among developed nations, Russia has an unusually fast-growing agricultural sector. On the whole, this has had a positive effect on the country’s economy, largely due to the fact that an increased emphasis on farming boosts a nation’s exports. The more food a country can grow, the more food that country can sell to other nations. This general principle applies to any country where agriculture is prioritized.
Within a nation’s borders, farms also contribute to economic growth by providing citizens with employment opportunities. Although there are seemingly countless jobs within the agriculture and agrochemical industries, some of which can be outsourced, the actual work of farming can’t be outsourced to citizens of other countries. The people who manage or tend to a farm must be on the property.
Granted, it is true that technological innovations will almost certainly impact the role that human labor plays on farms. Some farmers already use aerial drones and unmanned agricultural equipment to monitor crops and perform basic tasks that once required a human being. However, that does not mean that farming is at any risk of becoming totally automated. It simply means that there will soon be a shift in the roles that humans play on a farm.
Many have already observed this shift, noting that more farmers are focusing on precision agriculture, a general term referring to the implementation of new techniques, technologies, and methods designed to maximize the growth potential of small sections of crops. Precision agriculture requires human workers to closely monitor crops. As automated equipment continues to take over certain basic tasks, the human labor of a farm won’t become redundant; people will merely take on a different set of responsibilities.
Additionally, people will still be involved in maintaining and repairing all this new equipment, ensuring that agriculture continues to offer jobs to citizens of a given nation.
Improving Infrastructure and Technology
There are several reasons why many farmers have been slow to adopt some of the innovations mentioned above. Poor infrastructure is a main one.
For example, unmanned aerial drones that relay information about the condition of a section of crops rely on mobile networks in order to send that information reliably. Many farms are located in rural areas, where data providers have yet to install sufficient antenna towers. Up until recently, this made sense; in regions with lower population levels, there’s been limited demand for that type of infrastructure.
As more farmers embrace the possibilities of these technological innovations, that will change. Data providers will take notice, installing more towers and boosting the country’s overall mobile telecommunications infrastructure as a result.
It’s also worth remembering that when a nation focuses on a goal requiring technological innovations, there’s often a positive ripple effect. When the United States committed itself to landing a human being on the moon that goal also provided American citizens with the motivation to pursue careers in STEM fields. The United States did eventually send astronauts to the moon, but the technologies developed to put them there had practical applications back on Earth as well.
Improving agricultural technology may not be the type of goal that inspires the same degree of awe and wonder that the space race did, but it does offer nations a way to encourage their brightest minds to develop useful solutions to a range of problems. Innovations developed to boost the efficiency of farms will likely benefit citizens of the country in other ways.
It’s no secret that agriculture is essential to a nation’s growth. If the citizens aren’t fed, the country can’t thrive. Those in power must keep this in mind, but they must also keep in mind that an emphasis on farming can lead to other opportunities for growth.