The next Steve Jobs could be a farmer, according to an innovation expert.
Westpac Innovation entrepreneur in residence Xavier Rizos told guests at the AgriFutures evokeAG conference in Melbourne last week the Australian farming community held the key to solving the problem of how farmers could efficiently produce food in a sustainable manner, and position Australia as a global leader in ecological farming practices.
‘‘If you reflect on the current challenges we face globally around balancing growth and sustainability, at the heart of this balancing act is the need to feed the planet,’’ Mr Rizos said.
‘‘Necessity is the mother of all innovations and there is a pressing need to innovate in ag.
‘‘It’s not to invent a new smart phone or design another app to catch a taxi, but to feed the world.
‘‘This challenge is of existential proportions and is why I believe the next Steve Jobs should be a farmer.’’
Mr Rizos said innovation in agriculture was not a new phenomenon, in fact Australian farmers were considered among the most innovative in the world.
He said new technologies had become more accessible and more affordable, meaning new opportunities were emerging for the ag sector.
Emergent technologies are enabling new business models that will shape the impact of sustainability practices in Australia while also transforming the end-to-end food and fibre supply chain.
Mr Rizos believed, because few ecosystems were more connected and ingrained in the day-to-day livelihood of Australians, this was a prime opportunity for the industry to create more sustainable food production solutions.
‘‘The ag industry is the most risk averse in terms of farmers having to deal with constant challenges such as the weather, market prices and even global trade conditions, but for the new wave of innovation the sector needs to de-risk so that it can become stronger.
‘‘This will be possible through data to help us understand more about farming practices or conditions, so that big new ideas can be born and Australian ag can rapidly innovate.’’