With the BKT Network releasing the third episode of its Global Trends series, the feature focuses on the future generation of farmers and what agricultural tools they will use going forward.
BKT and Panel Analyse Potential Agricultural Changes for the Next Generation of Farmers
BKT is going to ask challenging questions in its series. In this edition, they look to the relevant topic of agrifood and who will produce it.
The current estimation is that in the next 15 years, around a third of current farmers will retire. With a disconnect from the current generation, BKT argues that obstacles and barriers prevent younger people from taking on jobs within the sector.
"The difficulty in obtaining funds for investments and buying land is certainly one of the main obstacles that the new generations face at the beginning of their careers" – explains Matthew Tilt, a journalist at the British magazine, Farm Contractor and Large Scale Farmer. "Then there is the question of wages. Agriculture, compared to other sectors, unfortunately, sees generally lower wages. For this reason, a fundamental ingredient for those who want to start a business in this sector is the passion and the desire to step by step build up an activity that can often be tiring and difficult, but which also offers much satisfaction."
Diana Lenzi, President of CEJA (the European Council of Young Farmers) believes that the generational shift is a prerequisite to making the agricultural sector more competitive in the long term and to guarantee sustainable food production in the future.
"It is important to offer the new generations the right training and the necessary tools to help them build a future in the sector by starting a sustainable business. Above all, it is essential to support young farmers in the start-up phase where the costs are higher. At CEJA we are working hard to find solutions to facilitate the generation shift by bringing farmers themselves, young and old, to the decision-making table, giving voice to their requirements and real needs," Lenzi argues.
For Scott Downey, Professor at Purdue University, USA, and Director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business, in terms of training, it will be necessary for aspiring young farmers to have a thorough knowledge of the technology and digital processes to progress.
"I would say that having technological skills will be a prerequisite to work in agriculture, and the new generations will therefore have to prepare for this. In coming years, the analysis and use of data will become increasingly central in agricultural businesses, determining the decision-making processes not only of large but also of smaller companies. The digital and technological transformation does not simply involve farmers, but the entire production chain in the sector, including suppliers," Downey concludes.
Finally, offering her personal experience on this issue was Giorgia Scaglia, Communications Specialist at the Scaglia Farm, located in Northern Italy and managed by her family.
"The Scaglia Farm was founded by my great-grandfather in 1931 and is now managed by my father and uncles. It will be me, my sister and my cousins who inherit the business in the future. Do I see a difference between our generation and the generation of my dad and uncles? I do. Thanks to the studies we have made, we have had the opportunity to examine and understand the importance of new technologies and production methods, bringing new approaches to the company and implementing so-called 'AgTech'.
"There are numerous differences between the various generations working in the sector. But one thing unites us: the passion and love for the land and for what we do."
AgTech is a key topic for BKT as agricultural methods become more aligned with technological tools, aiding farmers and ensuring a healthy crop. With this edition, it’s evident that BKT is using its Global Trends network to ask salient questions for the future of agriculture and who will be a part of that future.