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Hanu Yedluri

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Worldwide agriculture needs continue to grow, why isn't it treated like a business or manufacturing industry?

Today the global population is nearing 7 billion and earth is supporting the food needs of the world. Based on current population growth estimates we will soon reach 9 billion. But most of the population growth is in developing nations where agriculture is very limited. If the farming is supported the way it is today by their respective nations and world, can it produce enough food for future demands? In a manufacturing company, we can control the production by increasing or decreasing it based on demand. But, in farming, once the seeds are sown, the farmer only has one option - wait till harvest. Usually farming in developing countries happens based on which crop is producing more return on investment (high demand last year) which determines the benchmark for choosing what crop will be sown. The same farmer is not aware of other parts of the country that will bring the produced goods to market before him or of imports/exports of the same crop. This is resulting in farmers incurring losses, giving up farming and moving to urban areas, where providing minimum needs has become a challenge to the governments. What I am missing here is in enterprises we have analytics with targets to improve performance, where to cut operating costs and increase net margins. How can the world provide the same to a farmer? Can’t we give predictions and recommendations to make farming a respectful profession, those who are key to food production and make the world a better place? At the end of the day the farmer needs help in choosing the right crop, seed, pesticides, based on demand supply to name a few. But these numbers are only accessible to bureaucrats and commodity traders.

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  • Nov 9 2011: First farming is a business at both the small farmer level in a remote village to the corporate farm enterprises that dot the world. Secondly there is a vast amount of information on the Internet and I would suspect it covers at least 99% in every sense you can imagine including what to plant when, yields etc. In fact I recently came across a whole host of articles that discussed the value of the internet....only one computer in a 100 square mile area.....that was used by the local farmers for everything form ordering seed (delivered by buss) to emailing other farmers for information, etc. This was in a very depressed area of Africa. As for it being treated like a business the only thing that interferes with that is government and capital (check South Africa as an example). As for your last several sentences who is "we"? Seed companies, government agricultural departments, equipment manufacturers are all willing to help. And prices are not only available from the sources you listed (apparently you think they are not) but are also available in the local area that is farmed. Now my question for you. Why didn't you do some basic research before posing your questions? Even farmers in remote villages in Africa apparently do.
  • Oct 30 2011: I'm sure that the farmers in my part of the world already consider themselves respected professionals.

    In the central US, it's not uncommon for a family farm to have 1,000 acres in cultivation. Using this year's prices and yields that will produce about $1,000,000US in crop. It uses $4,000,000 in land, and up to $2,000,000 in specialized equipment. Seed, fuel, and fertilizer costs can run in the tens of thousands of dollars every year. Many of the farmers have university degrees in agribusiness, ag engineering, or biological science. There are hundreds of these operations in my state alone.

    (For my metric friends: 1,000 acres is about 4,000,000 square meters. It will produce about 4,000,000 kg of corn.)

    Best wishes,
    Doug
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    Oct 29 2011: Because the ultimate goal of a business or company is to maximize profit, and i believe government would not allow food prices to go really high, which high food prices would cause riots and such. If agriculture production is treated strictly like business then, then the largest company will take over all the smaller companies, like in all field in business, electronics, consumer products.etc that only will have 2 or 3 players left in the field and the largest player will have the say to the price which they will push up the price to profit from it.
    And people with lower wages would not have enough money to survive. One of the reason, why governments wont allow it, because it create segregation between people, create separation between poor and the rich
  • Oct 28 2011: I saw your solution and look very promising for higher production. My problem is in developing nations farmers are ill treated and they are going away from farming. Countries like India still 50% of population dependent on farming. They don't have enough tools other than cognitive minds and learning by experience. They are being neglected by governments and given trouble at every part of the process.
    In my view provide a system which eliminates information barriers and bureaucracy will be great help to the farmers, so that they can also manage their production very well.
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    Oct 28 2011: If I am reading your post correctly you are asking how well farmers will adapt in the future when farming becomes industrialized?

    I made a conversation in "ideas" related to this subject explaining a solution for this problem. In some ways my idea is what you described as a manufacturing company and its constant nonstop production of its goods. I address the issues regarding your post about farming and the impact industrialized farming will have on farmers in the future. I describe how it wont be so hard after all for farmers to adapt and convert farmland into land for their own hydroponic farms and neighborhoods that will turn their rural areas into suburban areas allowing our ever growing population to expand in what was once fertile ground and grow up with healthy nutrient enriched food.

    In my idea I talk about the future population and its hunger needs as well as needs for more living space and how growing crops in mass quantities in towers that essentially save on farming space and increase production in food, energy and set an example of what green technology can do for us in the present and in the future to benefit from our environment in many new ways all in one structure.

    http://www.ted.com/conversations/6604/green_technology_hydroponic.html