Most people don’t give the field of agriculture a second thought unless there is a drought and they start to worry about where their fresh produce will come from. However agriculture impacts our lives in a variety of ways.
We need farmers to supply us with food and in this global economy that is farmers all over the world not only the ones in our locality or country. We can now with fast transport services and refrigeration, have fresh produce all year round and because of imported foodstuffs we are unlikely to suffer a famine.
We are directly affected by farming practices and have to rely on responsible farmers to provide us with food that is safe for our consumption. This means a responsible use of herbicides and pesticides as well as their disposal. The uncontrolled use of these substances can damage the environment, leading to the pollution of our water supplies and a dearth of fish in rivers because of pollution.
There are those farmers who, in their attempt to earn more money, especially in the developing world, cut down virgin forests in order to have more land on which to plant food crops. This deprives us of plants which may have been invaluable in medicine, especially when it is the Amazon River Basin which is being destroyed. Agriculture supplies our demand for crops grown for the pharmaceutical industry and the food supplement one which has grown enormously in recent years. When plants are cut down and harvested in an unsustainable way, they become endangered and threatened, all because we in the West have discovered that they have medicinal properties which can help us. These plants had previously been gathered by traditional medical practitioners in a sustainable way but now they have been harvested by locals who only understand their monetary value.
Our demand for herbal extracts and supplements which are touted by their producers as being wonder drugs is depleting natural resources, endangering the plants that supply the raw materials and so also threatening the wild life that relies on the plants for food and shelter.
Modern agriculture, the damage done to the environment by farmers who cut down trees and who use pesticides and herbicides that can get into the human food chain is worrying not only environmentalists but the ordinary thinking person in the street. Clearly there is a need for sustainable farming throughout the world.
Robotics in agriculture may help to reduce the problems in the agricultural area. For example, people will be able to do things other than back-breaking labour in the fields, and learn to program the robots which will eventually replace them. The work force will have to learn new skills and with these will come economic development which is good news in developing countries where many farm labourers are subsisting on around a dollar a day.
As responsible world citizens we should be demanding that all farmers use sustainable methods in their food production which will mean that we can ensure the survival of the next and future generations. Agriculture and agricultural practices impact our lives in a way that perhaps we had not until now, imagined.