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Using Science and Farmer Trust to Improve the Human Condition

Basia Skudrzyk

· workforce development,science,development,education,supply chain

Science can be crucial in improving the human condition, particularly concerning food security and the supply chain in agriculture. For decades, the world’s food system has overemphasized the efficient production and transport of commodity crops, often at the expense of building resilient and equitable supply chains that reflect the true costs of production. Usually, these costs are borne by the weakest link, and in agriculture, that’s the farmer. Constant downward pressure on price and inequitable distribution of value results in high social and environmental costs for farmers that consumers and investors rarely see.

Farmers play a pivotal role in the agricultural supply chain as primary food and agricultural goods producers. Their responsibilities encompass cultivating crops, raising livestock, and nurturing various agricultural products, crucial for ensuring food security and supplying raw materials to diverse industries. Situated at the initial production stage of the agricultural supply chain, farmers engage in activities such as planting, tending crops, managing livestock, and harvesting agricultural products. They serve as key decision-makers concerning land use, crop selection, irrigation techniques, and the utilization of agricultural inputs like fertilizers and pesticides. The productivity, efficiency, and sustainability of farmers' operations significantly influence the success of the entire agricultural supply chain. Their capacity to deliver high-quality crops and livestock directly impacts downstream activities, including processing, distribution, and retailing.

Despite facing challenges such as weather fluctuations, pest outbreaks, market volatility, and policy changes, farmers remain indispensable contributors to global livelihoods and food security. Their expertise, environmental consciousness, and commitment to animal welfare are highly valued by consumers. Efforts to enhance the agricultural supply chain often involve initiatives supporting farmers, such as providing access to agricultural extension services, financial resources, technology, market insights, and training opportunities. Addressing farmers' needs can bolster the resilience, sustainability, and inclusivity of the entire agricultural supply chain.

Farmers serve as the bedrock of trust in agriculture and provide stability in an uncertain world. While trust may be challenging to quantify, farmers inherently contribute to it through their actions, even subconsciously. Advancements in Smart Farming and Big Data applications hold promise for addressing productivity and sustainability challenges in agriculture. However, realizing these benefits hinges on considering the social implications of these technological innovations. Big Data applications are inherently socio-technical, shaped by social interactions, institutional frameworks, and technological dynamics.

Bridging the gap requires targeted interventions to empower farmers and their local networks and the cooperative development of new institutions to ensure fair and transparent allocation of risks and benefits in farming data chains. Successful implementation of Smart Farming and Big Data applications necessitates aligning the design and deployment of these technologies with stakeholder dynamics within the agricultural sector. Understanding how farmers and decision-makers perceive, adopt, and adapt science and these technologies is crucial for their effective integration into agricultural practices moving forward.

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