This time last year I wrote that we remained in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic and noted the relentlessness of the challenges it had brought.
A year on, while the medical ravages of Covid-19 seem to have somewhat abated – thanks to the wonders of vaccine science – the pandemic’s legacy is being played out in numerous ways, not least the aftershocks rippling through global supply chains.
Nothing stands still, and as if to add insult to injury, Putin’s war with Ukraine has ‘doubled down’ on the global headwinds we were already facing. A war anywhere is bad for the world, but this one, with a country whose market-influencing supply of wheat to global markets has been hugely disrupted, alongside an exposure of the fragility of Europe’s reliance on Russian energy, has projected us into an economic and social crisis, the like of which we have not seen in a long time.
Against this backdrop, one might have expected private sector commitment to potentially discretionary expenditure on projects relating to sustainability to have come under severe pressure.
But if the past 12 months is anything to go by, the businesses we support with access to data and expertise for net zero measurement have become more serious about their initiatives rather than less.
Indeed, in the past year those businesses have moved forwards from announcing targets – the aspiration – to actioning how they are going to get there. This has been incredibly exciting, since our role has been to help them navigate not only the technological but also cultural challenges that go with accessing and using farm data.
It is almost inevitable that over the coming year many firms will be scrutinising costs closely and putting pressure on department heads to make savings. But the mood music would suggest that rowing back on central themes such as sustainability is not likely.
That said, our customers will expect increasingly smart ways of doing things that leverage data and do so at scale. Thankfully that is why we exist as a business. As you’ll see in the pages that follow, we are leveraging our Pure Farming suite of technology to help farmers manage and control their data, and to allow the businesses they supply to work in complementary ways towards increasingly sustainable production.
That is how it should be. From New Zealand, Australia, and the UK, we have a growing array of examples of farmers and the agrifood chain working together to understand greenhouse gas emissions and explore strategies to make productivity improvements which – almost always – go hand in hand with improving
sustainability. And as our founder, Forbes Elworthy points out in his piece on inflation, the next 10 years could be a golden decade for farm returns and land values.
So, while the outlook for the next 12 months may not fill many with a great deal of cheer, there continues to be a great deal going on to be excited about. We should all celebrate and extol the many successes in our industry at a time when good news is in short supply.
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