Food Scarcity Can Be Tackled With Global Innovation and Knowledge Sharing in Agriculture | Agriculture

Among the Millennium Goals that were set at the turn of the century were specific goals set for improving agriculture and food production and reducing global hunger and malnutrition.The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) highlighted some specific areas on which attention needed to be focused including working closely with civil society organizations, the domestic private sector and international partners to improve fertiliser supply and demand, ensuring a massive replenishment of soil nutrients on lands with nutrient-depleted soils worked by smallholder farmers, and conducting a massive training program for community-based workers to ensure expertise in soil nutrients, water supply and environmental management.After a year (2010) of extreme weather, food commodity price speculation and renewed fears of high food prices and food scarcity in 2011, one newspaper headlines in the UK seems to suggest that things are not getting any better. It reported that a study by the UK’s Commission for Rural Communities had found that 25% of the country’s farmers were living below the poverty line with an income of less than £20,000 a year and of these a third had made no profit for the last three years. Tenant farmers were particularly badly affected, especially those whose businesses depended on grazing livestock.

It is a situation that would be recognised by the many small farmers in developing countries across Africa and S Asia and presents a bleak picture. But there are a number of organisations working hard to develop more sustainable, environmentally friendly and affordable techniques for small farmers.They include the not for profit organisation Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux International (CABI) which has many projects across the world and recently celebrated its centenary at a two-day workshop in Delhi, India. CABI has worked with the Indian Government to help the country’s improve their yields and the quality of their crops – by helping them with techniques to manage pests and diseases, and by making sure they have access markets plus the knowledge and skills to meet international export standards. The work echoes on of the areas the FAO highlighted (see above).The Worldwatch Institute is another independent research organization working on issues around the environment and sustainability. It plans a comprehensive project for 2011, to be called The Nourishing of the Planet, which will assess the the state of agricultural innovations-from cropping methods to irrigation technology to agricultural policy – emphasising sustainability, diversity, and ecosystem health, as well as productivity.Both CABI and Worldwatch include private sector research, for example from Biopesticides Developers, as innovative thinkers and potential sources of solutions for improving agricultural productivity in a sustainable way – using low-chem agricultural products such as biopesticides, biofungicides and yield enhancers using materials from natural sources.

One positive news story that appeared this week (November 29 2010) was about an innovative thinker, a retired Dutch inventor called Pieter Hoff with a potential innovative solution to the problem of growing plants in dry regions. It’s a simple container, a bucket, fitted with a convex cover in which are two holes. It allows water to be trapped and for a plant to grow in what is effectively a microclimate. Water is dripped onto the plant at 50cc per day, which allows the plant to survive but not to grow properly which encourages it to develop tap roots so that it can search out water by itself. It has been proven to work better than daily watering and allows plants to grow in challenging areas where there may be little ground water or energy supply.It is innovators like these that could make all the difference in tackling the issues of increasing crop production to meet the projected growing world population in ways that are sustainable and that farmers can understand and afford.Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Farm Accounting Software – Three Signs It’s Time to Switch to Agricultural Specific Software | Agriculture

Using accounting software to help manage your farm and its finances is a wise decision. Software can help you become more organized and profitable, and can also provide tools to manage taxes, write checks, enter payables and receivables, manage your general ledger, and so much more. But how does a farmer know when to switch from a basic accounting program to an agricultural-based program? Use this article to help you decide if it’s time to replace your general accounting software with agricultural-based accounting software. Here are signs it’s time to make the switch.1. You are unsure of your farm’s financial future.Entering data into a software system is beneficial because all of your financial information is organized in one place, and is easily accessible. Yet a true agricultural accounting system can do more for you than just organize data. It can help you project future sales and create ‘what if’ scenarios for your farm, which can help you accurately plan for future business strategies. Some systems even include ratio analysis, which helps you calculate standard agricultural-specific ratios, and also understand trends. Knowing where your farming operation stands with ratios can help you address issues and become more profitable.

2. You don’t know your true crop and livestock costs.Knowing the overall profitability of your farm is extremely helpful, but which of your enterprises are generating the most profits? The key to increasing profits is knowing where to focus, and an agricultural-based accounting system can help with this. Production analysis is a tool that provides detailed crop and livestock information on a cost per unit basis. With that information, you can see where changes need to be made, and make intelligent decisions on how to increase your profits. Another helpful tool is the ability to distribute complex transactions across multiple accounts and production units, rather than simply attributing the transactions to a single account. Multiple account distribution, which most basic software programs do not offer, can provide a more accurate financial picture for your farming operation.3. People are requesting crucial information you cannot provide.

As your operation grows, it may become necessary to provide more detailed financial information about your farm to third parties such as bankers, landlords, managers, consultants, and others. Having the ability to track detailed information about each aspect of your farm, allows you to pull that information when you need it, making it easy to provide third parties the detailed information they require. A good agricultural-based system provides in-depth financial analysis with the ability to structure and segment entire operations, profit centers, accounts, and inventories to track data, combine entities, and receive relevant farm reporting.If any of the above signs ring true for you, it may be time to find agricultural-specific accounting software for your farm.