In Rome, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Qu Dongyu, emphasized the potential of mechanization as a catalyst for change. He stressed that for mechanization to bring about positive transformation, it must prioritize environmental sustainability and ensure that no one, particularly women and smallholder farmers, is left behind.
Against the backdrop of persistently high global hunger and food insecurity, along with over 3 billion people still unable to access a nutritious diet, Qu Dongyu underscored the urgency of overhauling agrifood systems to enhance their efficiency, inclusivity, resilience, and sustainability.
These remarks were made during the inauguration of FAO’s inaugural Global Conference on Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization.
“In his inaugural address at the three-day conference, which followed the FAO conference on sustainable livestock transformation, Qu emphasized that adhering to the status quo is insufficient. He stressed the need for innovation and robust preparedness,” Qu stated.
“Innovative technologies, including satellite systems, GPS, robotics, artificial intelligence, and automated machinery, are already playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of agriculture. For instance, autonomous drones are actively monitoring crop health, while robots are proficient at identifying and removing weeds, as well as performing intricate tasks like pruning and fruit picking,” Qu explained.
Automated machinery is demonstrating exceptional precision in tasks such as planting, fertilization application, and harvesting. Meanwhile, sensors and satellites have ushered in a transformative era in agriculture, offering data-driven insights that enhance farmers’ decision-making.
Further instances of sustainable agricultural mechanization encompass direct planters capable of seed placement through crop residue, which minimizes soil disturbance and reduces the necessity for extensive tillage. Additionally, there are tractors powered by methane generated from organic sources like plants or manure.
The fundamental principles underlying all advanced and emerging technologies must revolve around sustainability and inclusivity. This implies that these technologies should be of benefit to all, with a primary focus on benefiting farmers.
Achieving this entails ensuring that these technologies and equipment can be adjusted to suit local conditions while remaining accessible and affordable. Crucially, these advancements must not exacerbate the digital divide by neglecting the needs of women and young individuals, as emphasized by Qu.
The conference, taking place from September 27 to 29 in a hybrid format at FAO’s headquarters in Rome, along with the inaugural conference on sustainable livestock transformation, holds immense significance. Qu stressed that it is crucial as it places the “Four Betters” at the forefront of our discussions.
With a global participation of over 8,000 registrants, the conference has been crafted as a neutral platform to facilitate substantive discussions on sustainable agricultural mechanization. Its diverse attendees include FAO Members, farmers, universities, agricultural scientists, mechanization service providers, development agencies, policymakers, extension specialists, representatives from civil society, opinion leaders, and the private sector.
The overarching objectives of this conference are to raise awareness regarding the pivotal role of sustainable agricultural mechanization in realizing FAO’s strategic framework and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It serves as a conduit for the exchange of information and knowledge pertaining to the global trends and technical advancements in mechanization. Additionally, it underscores FAO’s technical leadership and its ability to bring stakeholders together to support its members in harnessing sustainable agricultural mechanization.
The discussions during the conference span a range of thematic sessions, including topics such as Mechanization for Crop Production, Automation, and Artificial Intelligence.
Qu reiterated the significance of mechanization and automation as potent agents of change, emphasizing the need for them to be both sustainable and economically viable.News