Efficient Technological Agriculture

What exactly is socioeconomic agriculture? In an age of global warming and increased food shortages, sustainable agriculture has become a key to preserving the land and food supply. While growing techniques are continually evolving, the basic agricultural methods have not changed much in decades. Sustainable agriculture practices have been practiced by different societies for centuries, so why don’t more developing countries to promote this traditional mode of farming?

In the past, agricultural productivity in many countries of the world was highly dependent on imported products, such as dairy, grains, meat, and rice. Because these products were expensive and not available locally, farmers often had to resort to cultivating crops in other countries with lower cost equipment or labor. This type of agricultural activity also depleted soils and water supplies, putting both human health and the environment at risk.

In the 1970s, a series of changes occurred in agricultural policies. First, the United States began to de-emphasize its agricultural support to individual farmers and focus instead on providing subsidies and price supports to large scale producers. Second, the United States began to greatly increase the amount of food it purchased from other countries. Third, the government began allowing more imports, which led to an increase in rice exports. These events helped push the production of rice cultivation in the country up while land reserves were decreasing. The result has been a serious imbalance in agricultural production and sales between rich and poor countries.

Many farmers in the Philippines, India, and Pakistan have seen their rice production decline by up to 50 percent over the past two decades. While this decline is disconcerting to many, there is a simple explanation for the problem. Between international trade and political instability in developing countries, farmers have been forced to abandon their lands for jobs on urban assembly lines, construction sites, and other low-paying employment opportunities. As a result, they have lost access to agricultural credits, insurance, and other forms of aid that might have helped them improve their production and maintain higher prices for rice.

The solution, then, is to return to good economic practices for rice farmers in these countries. In developing nations, the governments must take action quickly to give displaced rural inhabitants help to provide them with alternative means of life. Developed nations should invest in irrigation systems that make use of pesticides that are less toxic to humans and animals. In addition, farmers should be educated and encouraged to produce crops that are free of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

For the poor themselves, there are a number of ways in which they can improve their conditions. First, farmers should be given access to agricultural credit so that they can purchase pesticides and fertilizers at reasonable prices. Second, agricultural, subsidized programs should be established so that farmers are provided financial assistance to train their children in economic gardening and farming, so that they will be able to provide high quality rice at affordable prices to their families.

Such development programs designed to alleviate poverty and promote agricultural development should be supported by the developed world. China has made great strides in this area in the past few years. Today, China has become the largest producer of genetically modified rice and also one of the largest exporters of fertilizer and other agricultural chemicals in the world. Similarly, India has a number of agricultural development programs based on agricultural fertilizer production, while Mexico has an agricultural feed development program based on fertilizer production.

These developments must be sustained. Otherwise, we will simply be reaping the benefits of technology at the cost of poor farmers. Rice farmers in India who have been given access to modern technologies to grow rice in large quantities have seen their costs for inputs reduce dramatically. This has helped lower their overall costs of production. This has helped them expand into other areas, giving rise to rural economic development.

Societal Agriculture: What it Is and Why It Matters

What is socioeconomic agriculture? Simply put, economic agriculture refers to the management of agricultural land and related inputs by those who actually produce the food we eat. This type of agricultural practice seeks to ensure that the inputs used to grow food are produced in environmentally and socially justifiable ways. In other words, farmers who practice socioeconomic agriculture do not use agricultural chemicals or pesticides, nor do they use artificial fertilizers and herbicides to control pests or enhance the taste and texture of their crop.

The practices of the modern farmer depend on the type of land they own and the climate in which they live. For example, a family who grows its own food on a piece of land with a low fertility may use conservation tillage to conserve and protect the soil’s capacity to produce food. This means that over time, traditional agricultural practices can become outdated, resulting in the reduced or even complete disappearance of these crops as an option for their families. On the other hand, in areas where temperatures are extreme and rainfall is sporadic, crop rotation techniques are often the only option for farmers who need to produce food on a regular basis.

These practices involve the cultivation of different kinds of plants (sometimes from the same species) on the same soils. They also involve the rotation of crops (cattle, sheep, and goats among others) to create a structure that would better allow food to move quickly and efficiently through the soils. Many farmers also make use of manure as a source of nutrition for their animals. However, when these agricultural practices are combined with the right fertilizer, animal feeds, and pest control, food can be produced that has a greater chance of sustaining life.

Since the combination of conservation tillage, crop rotation, and manure is common with traditional agricultural practices, many people mistakenly assume that these methods are still practiced today. However, this is not the case. Some farmers who grow organically based foods and who follow strict organic matter reduction and quality control practices are able to cultivate foods that have a higher yield than traditional, non-organic farming. The reason behind this is that the soils in which they grow do not have the proper nutrients in the form of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus that are typically found in soils that are organically intensive.

Nitrogen is essential in order for plants to grow. If the soil has insufficient sources of this element, the plants will not grow as well. In addition, potassium is needed for a healthy root system, while phosphorus helps increase the growth of roots.

Soil management is another important factor in the production of high quality foods. It is important for the health of the plants and the growth of the soil. However, soil management techniques differ depending on the type of food that is being grown. For example, a farmer may choose to use cover cropping or crop rotation to ensure that the produce does not become susceptible to disease. Chemical fertilizers can also play a major role in the health of the soil.

One of the most important factors in fertilizer use is the amount of fertilizer used. Fertilizer needs vary greatly depending on the location and the type of plant that are being grown. The amount that is used should be enough to meet the needs of the plant without depleting those nutrients. Another consideration is the condition of the soil. Adding fertilizer can help improve its fertility, but it is important to make sure that it is added to the proper ratio.

In conclusion, socioeconomic agriculture is an important practice that encourages soil conservation. In addition, this type of farming is more beneficial because it uses natural compost instead of synthetic fertilizers and soil additives. This practice is beneficial to the environment and farmers alike. No matter what type of economic enterprise is being pursued – whether it is organic or inorganic – the practice of proper soil management is important.

Hilirisasi Produk Pertanian Berbasis Pedesaan

Pada satu kesempatan saya mengikuti Bapak Gubernur Sumatera Utara Letjen (Purn) Edi Rahmayadi pada acara pelantikan Yayasan “Marbisuk” di Mandailing Natal menyampaiakan harapan agar hilirisasi produk pertanian di Sumatera Utara harus menjadi perhatian. “Kita punya petani dan produksi cocao, tetapi tidak memiliki coklat sebagai produk hilirnya, Prancis tidak menghasilkan cacao, tapi produk makanan terbaiknya adalah coklat, jangan-jangan coklat dari Prancis bahan bakunya dari cacao yang dihasilkan petani Mandailing Natal” imbuhnya sambil tersenyum. Saya merasa mendapat spirit baru, karna program inilah yang dapat membantu meningkatkan pendapatan petani dan mendorong pertumbuhan ekonomi Sumatera Utara secara mikro.

Bercermin dari  Rencana Pembangunan Jangka Panjang Nasional (RPJPN) tahap pertama (2015-2019), yaitu “meningkatkan nilai tambah sumber daya alam pada industri hulu berbasis agro” masih belum dapat terwujud seperti apa yang diharapkan. Padahal dengan pengembangan  industri hulu agro dan industri berbasis agro merupakan peluang  yang menjadi jembatan sinergi antara industri pengolahan dengan sektor pertanian sebagai penyediaan bahan baku.

Selain itu, Pengembangan industri hulu berbasis agro bukan saja meningkatkan nilai tambah produk pertanian akan tetapi mampu menampung migrasi tenaga kerja dari sektor pertanian ke sektor industri pertanian. Berdasarkan data Badan Pusat Statistik Februari 2017, sektor pertanian mampu menyerap sedikitnya 39,68 juta orang pekerja atau 31,86% dari total penduduk bekerja (mencapai 124,54 juta orang). Namun angka ini mengalami penurunan akibat alih fungsi lahan yang menyebabkan luas lahan yang diusahakan petani menjadi menyempit. Insentif (pendapatan) petani dari usaha taninya kecil serta kepastian regulasi yang kurang tegas.

Ironisnya, petani tidak memiliki posisi tawar terhadap produk yang dihasilkannya. Biaya yang dikeluarkan dalam mengelola usaha tani terlalu besar dalam penyediaan  sarana produksi seperti pupuk, pestisida dan bibit, sehingga  harga produk menjadi lebih mahal dibanding produk impor sejenis, yang pada akhirnya  kalah bersaing di pasar. Belum lagi kualitas produk yang dihasilkan terkadang rendah dan tidak sesuai dengan standar yang ditetapkan konsumen sehingga harga jual menjadi murah. Kecilnya keuntungan yang diperoleh petani dari usaha taninya mendorong petani untuk beralih profesi ke sub-sektor lain seperti industri. Tidak bisa dipungkiri bahwa konsekuensi logis dari proses industrialisasi menyebabkan penurunan jumlah petani.

Langkah kongkrit yang bisa dilakukan untuk meningkat pendapatan petani adalah meningkatkan nilai tambah produk pertanian melalui hilirisasi produk pertanian  atau pengembangan  industri hulu berbasis agro. Kebijakan seperti ini telah dilakukan sejak tahun 2015, namun bersifat makro. Hilirisasi  lebih berbasis pada produk perkebunan seperti kelapa sawit, yang berbasis pada perusahaan besar. Sementara itu  industri pertanian berbasis perdesaan yang seharusnya bisa menopang jutaan tenaga kerja produktif malah seperti ditelantarkan, padahal para petani kecil di pedesaan merupakan tulang punggung sub-sektor pertanian dalam peningkatan pertumbuhan  ekonomi bangsa.

Hilirisasi  produk pertanian berbasis pedesaan bukan saja bertujuan untuk meningkatkan nilai jual produk, akan tetapi upaya meningkatkan lapangan kerja di pedesaan. Kelompok tani dan gabungan kelompok tani (gapoktan) dipasilitasi dan dibina melalui pengembangan kemampuan budidaya  petani, inovasi, teknologi dan permodalan dalam satu wadah yang disebut Usaha Migro Kecil dan Menengah (UMKM), koperasi atau apapun lembaganya yang jelas berorientasi pada unit usaha yang lahir dari petani. Ketika petani menghasilkan produk yang berlimpah pada musin panen, seperti jagung umpamnya,  jumlah produksi jagung  tinggi, harga rendah, permintaan meningkat dan penawaran kecil maka solusi yang harus dilakukan lembaga ini adalah hilirisasi produk,seperti tepung jagung, “Jasuke” (jagung susu keju),  pop corn, atau apapun produk sejenis, yang dapat meningkatkan nilai jual sehingga meningkatkan margin penerimaan petani. Sebaliknya pada musim paceklik, jumlah produksi sedikit, maka lembaga petani  berupaya untuk menstabilkan harga ditingkat hulu, dan tetap terus mengembangkan jenis produk tingkat hilir.

Contoh kecil upaya yang dilakukan “Koperasi Serba Usaha (KSU) Mandailing Jaya” terhadap produk kopi petani di kecamatan Ulu Pungkut Mandailing Natal. Hanya perbaikan pasca panen dan tata niaga kopi saja, KSU mampu miningkatkan nilai jual petani antara 13.000 s/d 15.000/kg kopi tergantung kualitas kopi yang dihasilkan petani. Saya yakin banyak lembaga yang sama sudah terbentuk dan beroperasi di Kabupaten/Kota di Sumatera Utara yang hanya perlu pembinaan dan supporting dari pemerintah daerah.

Jadi hemat saya, revitalisasi atas gagasan hilirisasi yang dicanangkan pemerintah perlu  diperjelas pada tingkatan mana yang harus diprioritaskan.Jika tidak, konsep hilirisasi tidak akan tepat sasaran serta tidak berdampak pada upaya meningkatkan pendapatan petani dan penyediaan lapangan kerja di pedesaan.

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