The unmistaken clarity of the high percentage prevalence of Data in Start-ups at FruitLogistica 2020 is a clear clue to the future of work in agriculture.
From farm supply chain management systems to automated insect control and to post-harvest, one could not avoid the repetitive echo of Data in it all. It was a clue as to the value placed on the collecting, analyzing and application of relevant data to the problems in agriculture.
One could not miss the clues. Start-up presentations on 7 February in Berlin, identified themselves in terms such as:
- “data company providing climate intelligence products”
- “systems based on sensors, predictive agronomic models”
- “insights…(that)…helps you to optimize the cultivation process”
- “getting accurate and real-time information about fruit growth and production forecasts”
- “sensors capable of transmitting moisture, temperature and salinity data in real time”
Additionally, the data was connected to the automation-solutions they proposed. Mobile applications, scanners, sensors or drones were all designed in the context of its capacity to provide data that would address problems related to lack of access to trade opportunities, inefficient agrochemical and irrigation management systems, inaccurate yield estimations, price risk management and many more.
This is the new face of work in the 21st Century. We were, of course, warned about it by the likes of William Bridges in Jobshift, Charles Handy in The Age of Unreason, Jeremy Rifkin in The End of Work and more recently by David Frayne in The Refusal of Work. But we did not listen and so we are still insisting that you can do Vocational Training in Agriculture as if nothing has changed in the entire value chain in Agriculture.
Specifically, training that ignores what it takes to collect, analyze and apply data in the 21st century puts our young people at risk of becoming irrelevant in an uncertain world. Knowing human nature, irrelevance is not casually embraced as just another reality. No one likes to be irrelevant and there are plenty of dubious and diabolical characters in this world that will help feed that need with a new definition of relevance – even it could cost you your life.
In order to be in demand in Agriculture young people will have to read. This goes almost without saying, but it must be mentioned because it is at the heart of it all – it is the fundamental premise of subsequent disciplines of the mind. You must at least be able to decode and comprehend the words in which the data is presented before you can even begin to analyze the data needed for smart agriculture. Any vocational training in agriculture programme that ignores this fundamental factor, will be part of the problem of youth employment, poverty, social exclusion and irrelevance. Parallel and syncrhonous solutions for training and development are needed.
This reality also points at the continued reality that those who can read will remain as the designers of new solutions while those who cannot, will simply serve as non-thinking participants in their own future. Tragically, signs are there that the illiterate will even have to compete with a robot which will automate “the monitoring and analysis of your crops and fruits in a growing environment’ and do it with a superiorly higher level efficiency.