Tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion will help to feed our planet in fu­ture

But tech­nol­ogy alone will not solve yield gaps, wastage or post-har­vest losses

Pretoria News - - TECHNOL0GY - PRO­FES­SOR LOUIS FOURIE

au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles. Ro­bots will in fu­ture per­form more and more tasks pre­vi­ously re­served for hu­man oper­a­tors.

Nan­otech­nol­ogy is used to in­crease yields through op­ti­mised nu­tri­ent man­age­ment and to min­imise nu­tri­ent losses in fer­til­i­sa­tion. Soil-en­hancer prod­ucts are avail­able that en­hance wa­ter distri­bu­tion, stor­age and wa­ter sav­ing.

After an out­break in the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic in 2015, the ster­ile in­sect tech­nique (SIT) was ap­plied to erad­i­cate the Mediter­ranean fruit fly within two years. SIT is a ground-break­ing tech­nique in which male in­sects are ster­ilised in labs. When re­leased, they mate with fe­males but do not pro­duce any off­spring.

An AI plat­form by Agripredict en­ables a farmer to use a cell­phone photo to iden­tify pests or dis­eases. It can also fore­cast the prob­a­bil­ity of pest in­va­sions and pre­dict the pos­si­bil­ity of ad­verse weather pat­terns, such as drought, floods and cold fronts.

The chal­lenges pre­sented by the cur­rent and fu­ture global food sup­ply will con­tinue to drive agri­cul­ture to­wards tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions. Tech­nol­ogy can make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence, but tech­nol­ogy alone will not solve yield gaps, wastage or post-har­vest losses. With­out elec­tric­ity the most ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy in South Africa is worth­less.

SOFTBANK’S IPO IS DIS­RUPTED

SOFTBANK Group’s mo­bile phone ser­vices were dis­rupted in some parts of Ja­pan yes­ter­day, ahead of an ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing (IPO) of its do­mes­tic tele­coms unit later this month that will po­ten­tially raise $21 bil­lion (R290.08bn). Shares of the group fell as much as 6 per­cent after the news, pres­sured also by a broader sell-off in stocks fol­low­ing the ar­rest of a se­nior ex­ec­u­tive at Huawei Tech­nolo­gies. The two com­pa­nies have part­nered on 5G tri­als. A SoftBank spokesper­son said con­nec­tion prob­lems started around 4.39am. Other de­tails, in­clud­ing when full ser­vice will be re­stored, are not yet known. Strong re­tail de­mand saw the SoftBank Group last week forgo a price range for the bumper IPO of its do­mes­tic telco, SoftBank Cor­po­ra­tion, set­ting a sin­gle in­dica­tive rate of 1 500 yen (R183.27). SoftBank will set a fi­nal of­fer­ing price on Mon­day, with shares set to be­gin trad­ing on De­cem­ber 19. Shares of the group closed down 5 per­cent yes­ter­day, in a broader mar­ket that skid­ded to a two-week low after Canada ar­rested Huawei’s global chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer, Meng Wanzhou, at the re­quest of the US, threat­en­ing a new spike in Sino-US ten­sions. I Reuters

I AKOS STILLER Bloomberg

A COM­BINE har­vester drives through a field of wheat dur­ing the sum­mer har­vest on a farm in this ae­rial pho­to­graph taken by a drone in Hun­gary.

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