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DR. MELTEM ONAY WRITES; DIGITALIZATION OF SMALL FAMILY FARMS

On the one hand, hunger, nutritional deficiencies and future anxiety in food security, on the other hand, agriculture comes to the fore again in a period of waste and future anxiety is discussed.
An increasingly healthy and balanced diet anxiety in the world brings with it the search for a faster return. The world is in a hurry because; food safety and security alarms.

Negative factors such as global climate change, thirst, drought seem to not feed the world population with modern agriculture and the current food system. The solution is to use water, soil and energy resources wisely, responsibly and to the future. The answer to the question of who will do this will be decisive here.

“Family farming”, which will continue its rural life, have turned agricultural work into a working culture, and is sensitive to nature, can be considered as the rational answer to this question. Family farming in the world has a rate of 85% in Asia, 62% in Africa, 83% in North and Central America, 68% in Europe and 18% in South America. In addition, there are over 500 million family farms in the world. These farms make up more than 98% of agricultural enterprises.

What is Family Farming and Why is it Important?

First of all, family farming is not a hobby. Family farming is one of the cornerstones of agriculture. Family farming is a real production activity, holding onto life and a business door. In other words, all activities carried out in connection with agriculture, which do not give up agricultural production under existing conditions and use family labor-force intensively, are defined as family farming.

Family farming; important for food production. It is important for the sustainability of agricultural production. It is important for the protection of natural resources. Naturally, it is an integral part of global food security. It is a great opportunity for local economies to revive. These farms will continue to contribute to the conservation of agricultural biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources in the world.

When looking at the social dimension; It is important for the protection of local culture, the preservation of traditional food products (geographically marked products), poverty reduction and women’s participation in rural life, having a say in their own decisions, increasing their status and gaining self-confidence.

Turkey is a country with high potential for farming families. Approximately one third of its population makes a living with agriculture. One in four people working in the labor market works in agriculture.

Small family farms have strengths and weaknesses. Among the subjects they are especially strong; they can act fast in decision making, they think of future generations. They are more resistant to crises. Because they act independently, they have higher motivation. Although they have a labor-intensive business area, they have the ability to easily ease this burden with their family members.

On the other hand, its weaknesses; they have a low capital, inadequate economies of scale. They are reluctant to take risks. Instead of specialization, they prefer to make farming based on experience.
When the problems of agriculture are examined, it is possible to find many reasons. However, what is important here is what these outputs are. The low level of education of farmers prevents the formation of sufficient awareness, which reduces the importance of organizing.

Financial inadequacy, lack of marketing ability, high input costs; It reduces the preference of being informed about and using them from agricultural and technological developments. The inadequacy of transportation and storage facilities both increases costs and decreases profit margin by causing losses. Although diversity is an advantage, they do not provide export potential since no added value is created for the product.

In the last 15 years, the revolution in information and communication technologies has created changes in our lives in every sense. Agriculture has become an information-intensive sector rather than experience. If a farm or rural enterprise would make the most of its competitive resources, it was critical to have access to accurate information tailored to local conditions.

Environmentally sensitive smart agriculture is an agricultural production model that utilizes the possibilities of technology, foreseeing soil, crop management, more economical use of resources and minimizing environmental damage in order to increase agricultural efficiency.
In a study conducted in the Aegean Region in our country, two important questions were asked to the farmers. The first of these; “The necessity of using new technologies in agriculture and what problems they will face if not used” were asked. Among the answers received; They said that the average age of workers working in agriculture is high, low skilled labor force and low competitiveness.

Secondly; When asked “what are the problems encountered in accessing and applying agricultural technologies”, the problems faced by the farmer in reading and interpreting data, the lack of reliable institutions guiding them in the selection of these technologies, the fact that agricultural lands are fragmented and small, they do not have sufficient budget to purchase these technological devices and finally also used expressions such as lack of state support in promoting and promoting the use of agricultural technology.

If we want to ensure the sustainability of small family farms by digital transformation, some very simple suggestions can be made. These:
1. To increase the number of firms producing state support and domestic technology first.
2.How to train farmers who are open to innovation and create environments for the farmer to experience technology in pilot projects
3. To remove the barriers for union and cooperative members to access agricultural technology
4. Enabling the establishment of “technical farming schools” and the institutions where “young farmer training” trainings will be provided to speed up immigration.
5. Strengthening digital literacy

Agriculture is a long term project. It requires short-medium-long-term plans. In addition, agriculture is not only the organizations that governments undertake. Non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, professional chambers and unions also have great responsibilities in this organization. It is for this reason that; We have to learn to look at agriculture with a holistic approach.

Professor Dr. Meltem Onay

Vice Rector

15 November Cyprus University

Authors

About İsmail Uğural

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