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Six innovations revolutionising farming

Smallholder Farmers in Africa

How did agricultural production triple? Photograph: Graeme Robertson


Powered by article titled “Six innovations revolutionising farming” was written by Charlotte Seager, for on Tuesday 8th July 2014 09.00 UTC

In 1798, economist Thomas Malthus predicted that the world would exceed its food supply by the late 20th century. While he was right to identify the challenges of feeding a growing population with a finite amount of land, in the last half a century agricultural production has tripled. So, how did this happen?

The answer: innovations in farming technology. Smallholder farmers in particular have seen a rise in productivity over the last decade. So what are the innovations making the difference? We asked our community and crowdsourced the answers.

1. Dairy hubs

Dairy Cows in Asia

These hubs have already had huge success in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Photograph: Hotli Simanjuntak/EPA

Dairy hubs link smallholder farmers to dairy processors, cutting costs and putting money back into local communities. Through this model, farmers gain higher income, education and healthier animals, while the production of safe and affordable milk in developing countries increases. These hubs have already had huge success in Bangladesh and Pakistan, and are being trialed in India and east Africa.

2. Fertiliser deep placement


FDP is used by farmers across Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. Photograph: Image Broker/REX

Traditionally, rural farmers apply fertiliser to crops by spreading the seeds by hand. Fertiliser deep placement (FDP) is a new way of distributing fertiliser that increases small holder yields by an average of 18% and reduces fertiliser use by a third. FDP works by using a specialised fertiliser (called ‘briquette’) which releases nitrogen gradually. The fertiliser is placed 7-10 centimetres below the soil, which allows less nitrogen to be lost through runoff. FDP is used by farmers across Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

3. Mobile apps

Mobile Apps

The farming instructor app gives agricultural information to rural farming communities. Photograph: Alamy


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