by Stephen Nel, Marketing Manager, John Deere Sub-Saharan

Foreword

Mechanisation and technology transforming South African farming

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South African farmers face unfavourable and increasingly unpredictable climatic conditions, unrelenting cost-price pressures, market volatility and policy uncertainty. Despite these challenges the country’s farmers continue to meet the food demands of an ever-growing population, running complex businesses that also compete successfully in highly competitive global markets. As the number of successful large-scale commercial farmers declines in the county, South Africa is, however, challenged to build a more inclusive agricultural economy capable of adding more farmers and greater yield – while also successfully accessing global markets, investment and technology.

In this context, John Deere is both encouraged and excited by the genesis of the Agricultural Development Agency.

Launching at this year’s Africa Agri Tech Exhibition and Conference, it is our hope that this important and timely agency can align the various role players required to build an expanded, more inclusive, agricultural value chain in South Africa – capable of accessing global agricultural investment and supply value chains while also playing a significant role in transformation and social development at home. As world leaders in agricultural innovation and a rich history of more than 178 years in South Africa, John Deere is working tirelessly to drive Africa’s green revolution, increasing yields through technology and insight, and bringing more land into commercial agricultural production.

In this endeavour, we believe that the adoption of technology is key to enabling farmers to become more precise, more sustainable, more connected and more resilient in the production of competitively priced food for local and global markets.

To this end, the impact of artificial intelligence for individual farmers, large and small, measured in increased yields, dramatically reduced costs, and ultimately higher incomes per hectare, is set to redefine what is considered possible in South Africa’s agricultural sector.

John Deere has developed models that support large scale farming operations optimise their businesses through state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial intelligence and automation.

Key in this is the gathering and management of data, enabling farmers to make better and faster decisions.

To this end, John Deere has developed an innovative private permission-based platform enabling qualified agricultural services and technology companies to blend their data with individual farmers’ own data and insights. Called More Tools, this platform harnesses the power of artificial intelligence to conceive and deliver tailored insights and solutions remotely for each farm, field and even plant.

For South Africa’s critically important smaller scale and emerging farmer segment, John Deere has developed SMART, a farmer-support ecosystem leveraging mechanisation to increase yield and earnings.

In short, SMART provides bespoke equipment solutions supporting the broader adoption of mechanisation. Enabled by finance solutions and supported though a dedicated dealer network and aftersales services, SMART also provides tailored technology solutions and on-going education, insights and support.

Even on older, smaller or less advanced equipment, capturing and managing data is, today, critical to planning, decision-making and optimal machine use. To this end, John Deere has developed cost-effective, bolt-on frugal technology solutions that enable emerging and smaller scale farmers leverage artificial intelligence to improve yields, access commercial markets and increase income. This technology is playing an important role in assisting small holder and emerging farmers access South Africa’s main-stream commercial economy.

The ability to blend data from each farmer’s operational and supplier universe is, for the first time, unleashing the power of artificial intelligence on South African farms. John Deere is excited to showcase some of these solutions at the upcoming Africa Agri Tech Exhibition and Conference. We also believe the conference can become an important platform to align South Africa’s agricultural players around the critical task of growth-driven transformation and broader inclusion in South Africa’s agricultural economy.

At John Deere, we believe that every farmer, big and small, has a role to play. Working together we can harness the power of the collective – including farmers, industries, governments, and communities – to achieve food self-sufficiency in Africa while also positioning the continent as a key global agricultural player.

Realising this vision means unlocking the potential of every person in Africa’s agricultural value chain – to be greater than they are today.

At John Deere we believe in greater.

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