Aeroponics, hydroponics, mobile applications, aquaponics, vertical farming, bioenergy, food processing innovations and even the revalitilisation of ancient food production techniques are all now a regular occurence in the agricultural sphere. What are these technologies and methods? Are Caribbean food producers using these methods? The answer is as bright as day – YES!
As with many other industries, things change. The global food and agriculture sector is changing. Through the power of ICTs, mobile technology and social media tools, people of all walks of life are able to access information which empowers them, propelling them forward as they pursue agricultural interests. Today the demand for knowledge is greater than ever.
However this flow of information is problematic in our region. It underpines the structural issues found in our national sectors. While the general public, in particular our agriyouth seek out knowledge to facilitate future farming, our establish institutions and authorities seem to be behind the times.
The Institute of Caribbean Studies seeks to assist in resolving this issue through its IGNITE Caribbean event centred on the theme: Farm the Future. which will be held as part of the 2017 INVEST Caribbean Conference.
This situation is not the case for all our countries however. Recently the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) conducted training in drone technology for use in the agri sector of which the Rural Agricultural Development Authority of Jamaica (RADA) was a part.
Working together with private sector drone company Airnov the agency is now equipped to support its extension service. Extension services are typically understaffed and under resourced. However through this technology much more of Jamaica’s landscape and rural farmers can be serviced which supports a new culture of precision agriculture.
A marvelous leap forward, with the local authority taking the initiative. Regardless one may be hard pressed to find this specific type of technological development taking place elsewhere in the region. Thinking critically this technology suits the Jamaican landscape to a tee. Therefore it only makes sense that other methods be present in other islands.
Private enterprise, GreenFarmNation based in Trinidad and Tobago, seeks to solve our chronic issue of limited supply through the use of vertical farming. In doing so production is maxmized simply because the physical layout for growing food moves from the ground level, ‘UP’. By growing food in such a manner, the volume of food produced is increased, so to is the postential for growing specialty crops or even new varieties.
Given globalisation and the advent of food innovation vertical farming then opens up markets for food producers not only in our region but beyond it. Through this technology, the nagging problem that farmers face in finding as well as supplying market with quality produce at appropriate volume, is evaporated.
Whether the Caribbean is ready for it our not, the future of farming is here to stay and it will continue to evolve. It is then the duty of our institutions, governments, and others in authority to keep up, be dynamic, work to service and build our regional agri-sector.
Written by Keron Bascombe, Creator, Tech4agri.