Training on the use of sensors for nitrogen efficiency.
Photo: ©CIMMYT


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Digital solutions can help to support farmers in their decision-making processes in order to achieve optimal farming systems of improved productivity while simultaneously minimising the use of resources and the impact to the environment. The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has been applying the corresponding technology in the context of its Sustainable Intensification Program for several years.

Over the next 50 years, the world will need to produce enough to feed 9.3 billion people, and global food production must meet expected demand despite climate change and without expanding the agricultural frontier at the cost of forests and wildlife. As a result, farmers around the world will have to produce more with the same amount of natural resources, or even less. This is not a distribution or a productivity issue. If we distributed the food produced in 2009 evenly among the population, we would still need to generate 974 calories per day/person by 2050. In addition, agriculture is responsible for nearly a quarter of the global GHG emissions, and it accounts for 37 per cent of land use and 70 per cent of freshwater consumption. We need to do a lot more with less, and this quest will be a matter of life and death for many. Aiming to face these challenges, and given their scale and complexity, we have to assume that linear transfers by which technology developed by specialists is passed on to farmers by extension intermediaries or face-to-face communication will not suffice.

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