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Mission 2041: I Am the Solution

How could the future of smart agriculture be?

Published : 20 Dec 2023 10:20 PM
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How will smart agriculture look in 2041? What data will guide farmers' decisions and where will it originate - from the soil, drones, or satellites? As we stand in 2023, envisioning agriculture two decades ahead sparks the imagination. Picture this: the quintessential farmer, Gani Mia, stands at the field's edge, operating a drone with his smartphone. The drone hovers above the crops, capturing images of both crops and soil. 

Leveraging artificial intelligence, Gani immediately determines the soil's nutrient levels. Displayed before him is a precise plan indicating the required fertilizers for each part of the field, the specific pesticides, and their quantities to be applied. Fishponds, cattle, and poultry farms will integrate advanced technology and IoT systems driven by data analysis. It will empower farmers with real-time insights into every facet of their farms. Leveraging the latest technological advancements, they'll stay updated with market trends. The shift from labor-intensive traditional agriculture to technology-driven smart farming will enable farmers to autonomously address challenges.

 In a bid to address future challenges, smart agriculture must prioritize sustainability. This involves using data from the Bangabandhu Satellite alongside global innovative knowledge. Addressing labor shortages in farming can be achieved through the widespread adoption of combined harvesting technology. Biotechnology can optimize crop yields on limited arable land. Moreover, advancements in 3D printing technology enable the production of meat and fish from plant-based materials in factories, meeting the rising global protein demand and expanding export opportunities. Innovations like floating cultivation, and addressing climate change, will propel Bangladesh's smart agriculture into the future.

 Abdul Malek, a local government agriculture officer based in Mymensingh, witnessed the struggles of farmers in his area and realized he couldn't aid them all. In 2014, he took the government's 'Empathy Training Program,' discovering how technology could assist in problem-solving. This led to the creation of the 'Krishoker Janala' app—an innovative solution enabling farmers and agricultural officers to swiftly identify crop diseases and pests through image recognition. The app gained rapid popularity through its trial phase. Recognizing its benefits, the government's Department of Agricultural Extension has now integrated this farmer-centric app into its assistance initiatives.

 Issues plaguing the country's major crops have been collated and organized into a comprehensive database, providing solutions for over a thousand problems spanning more than 120 crops. ‘Krishoker Janala’ app offers access to these services both online and offline. Pioneering ventures like 'Krishoker Janala' aim to foster 'Govpreneurs'—government officials with an entrepreneurial drive akin to Malek. This will become the standard in Smart Bangladesh, where public servants adopt an entrepreneurial stance, rewriting the paradigms of citizen service and bolstering the people’s trust in the government.

 A single individual efficiently manages a fish farm, tending to timely feeding, water quality checks, monitoring fish nutrition and growth, and preventing diseases. This individual is both a farmer and an entrepreneur, made possible through technology. Dr. Md. Tanvir Hossain Chowdhury's innovation showcases how IoT technology enables a person to oversee a fish farm. Similarly, a farmer utilizes a mobile app to tend to crops, taking snapshots of crops and receiving immediate guidance on care methods via AI and machine learning algorithms.

 Bangladesh has already entered the era of technology-driven smart agriculture, advancing rapidly to simplify farming processes and cultivate smart agricultural practices, thereby reducing labor. The 'Krishi Batayon' service offers farmers a consolidated platform to access accurate crop information seek expert advice, and avail of various government services. Moreover, it provides details about over 5,500 markets, empowering farmers with comprehensive market insights.

  Bangladesh's agricultural sector is undergoing a revitalization towards commercial farming. Despite dwindling land resources, three critical challenges confront the country's agriculture: meeting the food demands of a growing population, boosting the production of new crops for global exports, and enhancing production efficiency. Addressing labor shortage has already commenced; weed control is now managed through medicines, and the advent of combined harvesters signals the onset of mechanization. The introduction of new crops and cultivation methods marks a shift towards commercial agriculture, shaping the future of a smarter Bangladesh. As the artisans, we must strategize. Innovative ideas will emerge as we navigate the challenges ahead: shrinking land availability, declining water levels, and climate-related issues. Embracing hybrid crops is crucial, but we must explore alternative methods like floating agriculture. With access to information services, farmers can envision boosting production through innovative approaches. It's a time for inventive thinking.

 Today, many are leaving the capital Dhaka to engage in farming in villages, several others are returning from abroad to do the same. The farmers of 2041 will be well-educated, informed, and represent a new generation. They will command respect. Hence, integrating smart agriculture into rural practices is crucial. Timely training for farmers is essential, and where labor is lacking, integrating artificial intelligence, drones, or frontier technologies becomes imperative. Previously uncultivated lands like the Barindra Bhumi tract are now under cultivation. The future of smart agriculture will progress through a three-dimensional approach.

 By 2041, the archetype of the traditional farmer, Goni Mia, will undergo a complete transformation. No longer confined to working on others' lands, he'll emerge as both a farmer and an entrepreneur. He won't leave his fate to the whims of the weather or wander in search of solutions. Instead, he'll forge his path. Thousands of farmers, educated locally and internationally, will embody the spirit of this evolved Goni Mia—a community of smart farmers in a smart Bangladesh. Each adept at solving their challenges, every farmer will embrace technology, ensuring every family and district reaps the benefits. Smart agriculture will epitomize the essence of a smart Bangladesh.