Climate-Smart Agriculture in the Tropics.
As 40 % of the world’s agricultural land is in the Tropics, any adverse effects of the changing climate patterns can disrupt food security. As such, farmers are in dire need of new varieties of planting materials and even newer breeds animals that are better adapted to climate change as well as having a sustainable-tree-crop-livestock production system that can reduce deforestation and land degradation. In recent years, aquaculture has also gained prominence in addressing the challenge of food security. In addition, scientists are turning to biotechnology for a solution, from molecular breeding to gene editing, where cities are considering urban farming to reduce the carbon footprint and ensure fresh produce.
Frontier Technologies in Tropical Agriculture.
Frontier technologies such as the use of big data, AI, IoT, etc., are key drivers to developing new farming technologies. For example, extremely large sets of data collected on climate conditions, crop genetics, etc., can be used to develop forecasts to make planting recommendations to address climate variability in food production. Additionally, if fully tapped these technologies have also the potential to optimise the use of resources, among others, land, labour, fertilisers, pesticides, and water, leading to sustainable practices in the Tropics.
Changing Landscape of Agriculture in the Tropics.
A myriad of other issues that are important to highlight include the changing demographics of the agrarian population, adoption of monoculture, and deforestation. The impact of an ageing farming population and farmers’ migration to urban areas, a rising phenomenon in the Tropics, are being felt. In other words, urbanization and globalization require a fresh look at what sustainable food systems would look like in the next three or four decades. Indeed, how we conserve biodiversity in the tropical forests while sustainably practising monoculture and meeting the needs of an ever increasing global population will also need to be discussed. On top of this, there is a need to take into account the question of how we move from our focus on the main cereals such as rice, wheat, maize, etc., to a more diverse nutritious food supply without sacrificing food security.