Yesterday, December 3, the Secretary General of the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO), Arianna Giuliodori, brought the farmers’ voice into the “High-Level Dialogue on the Establishment of the International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture”, an online event FAO hosted to discuss the digital world’s opportunities for agri-food systems with policymakers, farmers’ representatives, academic researchers, business managers and technology companies.
The event featured a keynote speech from FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, Nikolai Astrup, Norway’s Minister of Regional Policies and Modernization and a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel for Digital Cooperation, while the panel discussion also included FAO’s Chief Economist, Maximo Torero; Atsuko Okuda, the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific; Rikin Gandhi, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Digital Green; Hendrik F. Hamann Chief Scientist for Geoinformatics and AI Applications, International Business Machines (IBM); Vineet Durani, Director Agri-Food Industry, Azure Global, Microsoft Corporation and Véronique Bellon-Maurel, Director, Digital Agriculture Convergence Lab (INRAE).
Speaking on behalf of farmers, the WFO Secretary General highlighted how too often farmers are not involved in the strategic planning of innovations, sometimes not even consulted.
That trend has resulted in a complete disconnection between the processes that lead to innovation and the adoption of innovation by farmers.
She emphasized that innovation in agriculture should serve instead as a tool in the hands of farmers to improve their production patterns and support them in the achievement of the three dimensions of sustainability: economic, social and environmental.
During her speech, the WFO Secretary General didn’t miss out to underline the farmers’ main concerns when it comes to adopting digital innovation. “Farmers are economic actors. When it comes to digital technologies, solution developers should demonstrate a return of investment of time and resources for farmers,” she reiterated.
About the issue of data management, she reminded: “The ownership of data remains a huge constraint and concern for farmers. Too often, they feel they are serving somebody else’s interests! We need to make sure that farmers have a fair share in return to their data, promoting a cooperative approach to the data.”
ABOUT THE PLATFORM
The International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture is a voluntary and inclusive multi-stakeholder forum to facilitate dialogue on how to strengthen the potential of digital technology applications in food and agriculture and how to address the related challenges.
The International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture was conceived in early 2019 when 74 Agriculture Ministers and high-level representatives from international organizations called on FAO to develop the idea at the occasion of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA).