How Climate Change Impacts the Most Vulnerable Farmers
The global population is on track to reach 9.7 billion by 2050. Such growth, in conjunction with globally rising incomes, has experts projecting the demand for food will increase by 70 to 100 percent over the next three decades. To keep up with demand, food production in developing nations would almost have to double, but the effects of climate change place enormous strain on smallholder farmers across the world.
Smallholder farmers often operate on less than 2 hectares of land. Crops vary by geographical location and climate, but often include staple foods — like rice and maize — that are vital to the global food supply. Smallholders alone produce roughly one-third of the world’s food, often sustaining their own families alongside some of the most impoverished communities in the world.
While the natural landscape has always presented farmers from all walks of life with unique challenges to overcome, no threat looms as large as that of climate change. With obstacles mounting and long-familiar weather patterns changing in real time, access to agricultural technology has become crucial for farmers in both developing and developed nations to succeed.
These are just a few of the devastating climate issues smallholder farmers face today:
- Rapidly changing weather patterns
- Shifting seasonal planting and harvest dates
- Erratic rainfall and flooding
- Soil erosion and degradation
- Frequent droughts
To cope with these challenges, farmers are often forced to switch from familiar crops to more climate resilient varieties — a change that can impose immense hardships on smallholders during a transition that requires time, resources and crop-specific knowledge.
In areas known for specialty crops, changing weather patterns compromise the future viability of those crops entirely. One example points to the 2019 ice wine crop failure in Germany. Ice wine is a type of dessert wine made from grapes that have frozen on the vine. Rising temperatures in the region no longer reliably support ice wine crops, and yields have decreased in recent years.
In rural India, smallholder farmers combat soil degradation as a result of flooding, acidity, wind and water erosion and salinity. Agriculture is critical to India’s agrarian economy, which is why Dimitra is currently working with an Indian farmers organization to assess soil organic carbon levels, remediate degraded soil, and enhance farming productivity on 2 million farms.
Dimitra’s soil assessment and remediation project in India makes use of satellite data, mobile technology, IoT sensors, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and drones. Utilizing Dimitra’s “Connected Farmer” platform, organizational teams and their partners collect data with mobile, sensor and satellite technology. Dimitra uses high spatial resolution satellite images to monitor crop development and assist in measuring soil organic carbon in an efficient and economical way. This data is then analyzed with machine-based learning to provide actionable advice that allows local farmers to implement sustainable strategies in soil remediation.
Climate Resilient Farming: How AgTech Can Help
Agricultural technology — AgTech for short — works alongside farmers to marry traditional farming knowledge with real-time data and predictive insights.
The Connected Farmer, Dimitra’s base platform, allows smallholders to track crop and seed inputs, fertilizer and pesticide applications and crop yields. Field-level sensors combined with satellite imaging provide farmers with useful data and analytics that translate into actionable recommendations all based on machine learning. This information is accessible through the web or through the Dimitra app. Farmers can also register their farms, set up geofences, create livestock goals, schedule maintenance and register invoices.
With Dimitra’s livestock management platform, farmers can easily track key information, such as vaccinations, animal identity and DNA testing. Smallholders can also ensure they are rotating livestock through pastures at the correct intervals.
As farmers use Dimitra’s platform, they accrue points that, upon reaching a specific threshold, can be converted into the Dimitra token. Smallholders can use the Dimitra token to purchase advanced modules or services within the Dimitra ecosystem, or exchange it for other cryptocurrencies.
Dimitra’s advanced satellite and weather modules provide farmers with real-time insights on crop health and changing weather patterns. Armed with this data, smallholders can better plan and prepare for shifting planting and harvest dates, erratic rainfall and droughts.
State of the art drone-based imagery allows for real-time crop evaluation from a bird’s eye vantage point, with image comparison capabilities to highlight potential pain points like moisture issues, pest infestations, crop exposure and shifting weather patterns. Advanced module drones can also provide precision spraying capabilities, reducing pesticide overuse and helping improve soil quality.
Dimitra’s advanced Online Agricultural Marketplace Module connects farmers with individual and corporate buyers and sellers. Farmers can list their produce, livestock and equipment, an ability that helps reduce crop waste and provides vital access to farming resources.
The Connected Farmer platform and each of Dimitra’s advanced modules were expertly crafted to solve specific problems farmers face on a daily basis.
Sustainable Agriculture: A Pathway Out of Poverty
When smallholder farmers are able to achieve surplus yields, they move beyond simply feeding their own families. With the help of agtech solutions like the Dimitra platform, and the modules available within it, sustainable smallholder farming has the potential to pull millions of global citizens out of poverty — and feed millions more in the process.
Successful, diversified crop yields and livestock programs help provide food security and essential nutrition to smallholders, their families, and their communities at large. We believe data-driven farming can help smallholders increase their harvests, reduce costs and mitigate the imminent threats posed by climate change. By democratizing access to agtech solutions, we can transform subsistence farming into a sustainable and profitable endeavor for our world’s most vulnerable farmers.
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