Advanced agro-machinery controls modern farming | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, November 14, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:42 AM, November 14, 2019

Advanced agro-machinery controls modern farming

It’s been a privilege to attend China International Agricultural Machinery Exhibition (CIAME) for the third time. This year the exhibition was held at Shandong’s Qingdao in China. I have attended the previous two exhibitions in Wuhan. CIAME is a unique event of international agricultural machinery, in fact one of the biggest in the world. Like always, I attended the exhibition to see the most updated agro-technology as well taking a close look at some of the technologies that might be effective for Bangladesh’s farming sector.

This year’s exhibition was held at Qingdao World Expo City. Agricultural machinery manufacturer, businessmen, distributor, scientist, researcher and journalists from around the world gathered at the event. Key ministers of China, policymakers, public and private high officials also illuminated the event. The China Agricultural Machinery Association (CAMA), China Agricultural Mechanization Association (CAMMA) and China Agricultural Machinery Distribution Association (CAMDA) jointly organized the 70th exhibition of CIAME this year. The exhibition was held on 200 thousand square-feet area where 2100 agro-machinery manufacturer organizations from 60 countries showcased their tools for the future farming. This year’s theme for the fair was, ‘Mechanization and Modernization of Agriculture in Rural Areas.’   

Qingdao has many skyscrapers, modern high-rise buildings for people to live in and the province has the most advanced communication system. In fact the entire China is like this. The main river Moshui is flowing through the city. At the west of the city is the Yellow Sea.

Every year, the number of visitors is increasing. It shows how the scenario of agricultural mechanization is changing rapidly. Millions of visitors are coming from all corners of the world. It is a three-day long fair. It is obvious that people are getting more and more interested in agriculture machinery. The expo has machines from large to small ones. I was excited to see a small rice mill. Farmers can thresh paddy and make rice. The price of it around Tk 65,000 (USD 769).

Parts of agricultural machinery is also sold at one corner where Bangladeshi manufacturers visit regularly. They assemble those at home and they are happy to get any part of the machinery they want.  It is really wondering to see the amount and variety of agricultural machinery parts in the section. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in full swing now. It was no wonder to see the AI based agro-technologies at the fair. The attributes of these technologies are that they are pretty intelligent and can save a lot of labour. They would make the work faster and save more time.

However, the question still remains in our part of the world where people are not actually habituated with this. But, the modern farming world like China believes there would be a time when there would barely any need for physical labour. Some say, people would become lazy in presence of such technologies and machines but some others differ that technology has the pin-point solution to any agricultural need.

I had a chat with a visitor named Leo at the fair.

“Could you tell me how agriculture is moving onward to evolution through use of technology?” I asked Leo.

“It is changing everything. These machines here are cheaper than those of Europe and America,” he replied.

“So, what’s the future look like?” I asked again.

“Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) will be the rulers of future farming,” replied Leo.

It was great to learn that when small farmers can’t afford expensive machinery, government comes forward to help them. And those who are rich and big farmers in China, they buy the big machines to put them at work on the field. The small farmers can rent the machines under the assistance of public-private initiative and the farming scenario of China is now being dealt by the youth who are very much accustomed with modern technology.

I have also noticed machinery for spreading fertilizer on farmlands. The huge tractors attracted me like always. There were also small ones. Many tractors are AI assisted and thus self-run where there is no need for humans for operation. Horsepower is a key factor behind the price of a tractor. I talked with a participant who came at the fair to showcase his tractors. I talked with him about different models.        

“What’s the horsepower of it?” I asked.

“80,” he replied.

“What about this?” I pointed to another one.

“60, but that’s for fruit orchard like grapes, apples and other fruits,” he replied.

“I also have tractors for rice and wheat,” he added.

“What is the price of those that you use in rice and wheat?” I asked.

“USD 5000,” he replied.

“Which one is the cheapest?” I asked him again. 

“The 30 horsepower is the cheapest which would cost around USD 4300,” he replied.

China’s young generation are more eager to move into cities than getting into farming, which is of course happening in Bangladesh. They go for corporate jobs and that’s why China is facing the labour crisis at the field. In fact, it has become a global phenomenon. That’s why they are adding AI and IoT into their technologies.

It was amazing to witness wheat, peanut and corn harvesters at the fair. They also demonstrated cow milking machines each worth USD 600. The machine has two tanks, each can hold 25 litres of milk at a time from two cows, meaning two tanks would be able to hold up to 50 litres of milk. It is essential for our country where a farmer can use this in his farm as we know our livestock sector is doing pretty well in producing milk and meat. Most importantly, we need such machines for biosafety purposes. And such machines are not that expensive.

At the three-day exhibition this year, 30 high level meeting, seminar and symposium were held. Research articles and reports on challenges and prospects in farming sector were presented at these seminars. These included transportation of heavy agricultural machineries, development of GPS drone operation, upgrade agricultural machinery for vegetables, annual report on China’s agricultural technology, technology for producing cash crops, irrigation, manufacturing of highly intelligent machinery, overall technology for raising livestock, tech and machine for producing fish in healthy environment, agricultural development and extension by mechanization in hilly areas and many other agendas. There was also a meeting with the international media organization Asia Pacific Agro Media Association (APAMA) of which I am one of the founding members. At that meeting, Bangladesh was awarded for its special contribution in mass media to spread the news on CIAME.

Japan, Thailand and Nepal were also awarded for their contribution for the same cause.    

China sits at the top of world’s 10 best agriculture manufacturers list. According to a research published last year, China is progressing rapidly in exporting agricultural machinery. USA comes second while Germany comes third. After that, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, France, Hong Kong, England and Italy are on the list. In Bangladesh, the scenario of farm mechanization is 95 percent in ploughing, 95 percent in irrigation, 1.5 percent in harvest, 95 percent in rice threshing and below 0.5 percent in plantation. More or less, 80 percent of agricultural machineries used in our country is coming from China. According to a report of Bangladesh Agricultural University, the market of farm machines in our country last year was approximately USD 1.2 billion.

A recent research on farm mechanization in SAARC countries states that local manufacturers are meeting the need for 20 percent and the rest dependents on import.

Bangladesh government highly focuses on farm mechanization. They are providing 50 percent subsidy for purchase of farm machinery. They also provide 70 percent subsidy to Haor farmers for the same reason.

Besides, over USD 353 million is allocated for purchasing farm machinery. About 25 organizations are involved in importing large agricultural machinery. The number of importers of small farm machinery or spare parts is even higher. These importers also attended CIAME 2019.  

Dear readers, CIAME represents new wonders every year for the farm mechanization sector across the world. I can see the astounding evolution of farm machines. China is carrying out diverse research and development works to expand their dominance not only in Asia but all over the world. This expo showcases those yearlong perseverance of China. It is necessary to come up with convenient ways to import more agricultural machines for our country, considering prospects and facilities. The sooner we will have mechanization in our farming sector, the production will be more. It is the perfect time for Bangladesh to move onward to most advanced farm mechanization.

 

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