Within the framework of the agro-ecological project and the ambitious industrial policy carried by the government, the ministers in charge of agriculture, industry and higher education and research entrusted IRSTEA with the mission of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the agro-equipment sector. A report therefore presents the strengths and weaknesses of this sector, but also the opportunities that arise, related to the good economic performance of agriculture, innovation support mechanisms and the potential of "Big Data".
The conclusions of the mission were presented on 12 January by Jean-Marc BOURNIGAL, President of IRSTEA, to Geneviève FIORASO, Stéphane Le FOLL and Emmanuel MACRON.
The sector studied includes mobile machinery used in agriculture, forestry and maintenance of green spaces as well as associated information and communication technologies. France is the third largest European producer with a turnover of 4.4 billion euros in 2013, more than 540 manufacturing companies and 2000 in distribution, representing more than 40,000 jobs.
Although French industry has demonstrated its ability to provide solutions to the needs for specialised equipment, including for export, it suffers from a lack of image and visibility of these professions. It is estimated that there are between 5,000 and 7,000 unfilled jobs in manufacturing and distribution.
A set of recommendations were formulated such as the co-design of agricultural systems and equipment for the agro-ecological transition, support for the development of agricultural robotics and innovation, as well as improving the attractiveness of jobs and training.
A restitution seminar on this report for professionals and other stakeholders will be organized in the first quarter of 2015. And thehe Ministers would like an operational action plan to be drawn up in conjunction with the professionals in the sector on the basis of these recommendations.
In a context of a shrinking workforce in agriculture, energy transition and the development of agro-ecology, agro-equipment will have to meet several challenges of an economic nature (efficient production in terms of quantity and quality), environmental (reduction of emissions to water and air) and social (improvement of comfort, risk reduction and development of exchanges).
Three main recommendations
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- Preparing for tomorrow's agriculture :
1. Co-designing agricultural systems and equipment to meet the challenges of the agro-ecological transition, in particular to exploit functional diversity and implement flow looping.
2. Develop agricultural robotics, a vector of safety and comfort at work, sociotechnical performance and lower environmental impact (via machines using electrical energy, configuring themselves according to operations, or even working in a network).
3. Preparing "digital agriculture", or "databased agriculture", which is essential for more accurate production processes that are more adaptable to change (through the generation of new agronomic knowledge).
- Encouraging innovation and organizing its ecosystem :
4. Clarify the innovation ecosystem in order to make it more accessible to agri-equipment companies and to promote trade and transfers between related industrial sectors (industrial vehicles, motor vehicles).
5. Make networked innovation more attractive to players in the value chain, on the one hand by supporting its genesis, and on the other hand by facilitating access to the market for innovative products via labelling processes.
- Strengthening the skills and capacity of the sector :
6. Bringing training closer to the needs of the sector, in order to better meet the recruitment needs that are currently poorly met, from a quantitative point of view (making the jobs and training in the agricultural equipment sector more attractive) or qualitative (opening up to international markets).
7. Structuring national expertise and testing resources in order to guarantee, in France, access to testing resources and expertise to support the development of agricultural equipment.
8. Improving the international presence, the future of the industrial sector residing partly in its capacity to invest in foreign markets.
9. Set up a strategic sector committee, which is essential to ensure the coherence of all these measures, by including all the players in the sector. This committee will be the place for the construction of shared objectives, concretized through a sector contract, ensuring dialogue between private actors and public authorities.