According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations report (Rome, 2017), the world population is expected to increase to almost 10 billion people by 2050, which will drive agricultural demand. Currently, just as an example, exclusively the ten most populous cities in the world, collectively, exceed 350 million inhabitants. Population growth requires commensurate changes in production and increased optimization and deployment of resources, simply to meet potential global demand, agriculture in 2050 would need to produce almost 70% more food than in 2015
As agriculture adopts labor-optimizing technologies, agricultural employment is expected to become more sophisticated, and both women and men are expected to stay in rural areas with decent jobs, improving rural population fixation and preventing migration. Therefore, agricultural innovation and modernization, mitigates this lack of labor necessary for the exploitation of the land, while improving net income in rural areas and curbing rural exodus.
According to 2016 data from the World Bank, at the end of the last century the proportion of people working in the service sector was 34%, 21% in industry, and 45% in agriculture. In 2010, respectively it was 41%, 17% and 42%. Therefore, there is less and less availability of labor for agriculture, having equated this activity, with the service sector, continuing to decline in percentage.
Therefore, there is a need for innovative agricultural systems that protect and enhance the natural resource base, while increasing land productivity and securing population with stable and more sophisticated jobs.
For decades, the world’s population was predominantly rural. Thirty-five years ago, more than 60% of the population lived in rural areas. Since then, the balance between urban and rural areas has changed markedly and, today, two-thirds of the world’s population (66%) is urban. By 2050, 70% of the population will be living in urban areas (UN, 2015), with what this will entail in terms of labor shortages for agriculture.
Some countries, such as Argentina, Australia and the United States, have net exports of more than 50% of their national food supply, which ratifies that agricultural innovation is the only way to curb dependence towards other countries, while ensuring food availability and life in rural areas.
A recent study of 26 production systems in six Asian countries (Hussain, 2007) has provided evidence that agricultural development and modernization reduces poverty.
Agricultural innovation improves and stabilizes crop productivity, exploits high-value systems, generates higher incomes and employment, and provides higher and fairer wage rates. Income inequality and poverty rates are consistently lower for innovative areas and households with innovative agriculture are less likely to be poor. Innovation has a multiplier effect by generating additional welfare through collateral market activity (inputs, labor, contracting, transportation, processing, suppliers, etc.). This multiplier effect exceeds 300% (Bhattarai and Narayanamoorthy, 2003; Hussain and Hanjra, 2004), although Smith (2004) assessed the multiplier range of 130 to 200.
The key to sustainable agricultural growth that ensures food for everyone on the planet is more efficient and sustainable use of land, labor and other inputs through technological progress, innovation and new farming models. For agriculture and aquaculture to respond to future challenges, innovation must not only improve the efficiency with which inputs are converted into products, but also conserve scarce natural resources and optimize production and inputs, while being environmentally friendly, taking into account, through mechanization, the increasing scarcity of labor in rural areas, pursuing through such innovation, rural population fixation, and the sophistication of the jobs of those who remain there, making them attractive, dignified and profitable (OECD, 2011; Troell et al. , 2014).
To conclude, evidence to date (data refer to 2007, based on FAO, 2011) indicates that, each year, about 1.3 billion tons, or one-third of the edible part of food originally intended for human consumption is wasted or lost along the value chain, from origin to destination. With the modernization of agriculture, through its full mechanization and definitive adaptation of the fruit ripening stages to those of processing, this amount will be reduced by about 1.3 billion tons per year, or one third of the edible part of the food originally destined for human consumption.