Egypt turns to FAO for digital transformation in agriculture
The following news was published by Watani International and is shared for information purposes.
CAIRO, 22 July 2019. The Food and Agriculture organization of the UN has launched in Egypt a digital model of agricultural extension to enhance agricultural productivity. The move comes within the programme signed between FAO and the Egyptian Government to boost information exchange and technology transfer in agriculture for the period 2018 – 2022.
Ezz El-Din Abu-Steit, Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, stressed that digital technology had the potential of facing threats of famine, and of achieving food security in a world where multiple challenges loom in the nutritional field. Such challenges, he said, owe to rapid population growth, shrinking arable lands, and declining numbers of young agricultural workers, as indicated by the International organizations statistics.
“Digital technology can revolutionise agriculture,” Mr Abu-Steit said. “It can facilitate obtaining information to use as guidance in managing crops and livestock health, ultimately helping farmers make good and effective decisions on how to best utilise plant and animal resources. It can help farmers to reduce production costs and waste, thus streamlining production. It also helps increase crop productivity by improving decision-making based on the availability of accurate data.”
The Minister explained that “digital agriculture” methods have been widely used in many countries; but less developed regions, especially remote areas, usually lack the infrastructure of the telecommunications network to apply such methods.
“MoALR is working to activate the role of ICT in the agricultural sector. It is working to raise staff efficiency and management of the services provided, in order to facilitate farmers’ access to the services provided by the Ministry,” he added.
The Central Laboratory for Agricultural Climate (CALR) provides agricultural meteorological data in line with agricultural activities, including the use of mathematical models to estimate the daily needs of irrigation, fertilisation, and others. The data can help predict future diseases and pests, also to calculate the cold degree needed for fruit trees.
“MoALR is currently establishing an advanced central information centre that includes a comprehensive database on animal, poultry and fish production within the National Information Technology Programme. An epidemiological map of animal diseases has been developed. Remote sensing technique is used to monitor encroachment of lakes on agricultural land, and can help develop an early warning system to predict transboundary diseases such as Rift Valley Fever” Mr Abu-Steit concluded.
“FAO has been pleased to respond to MoALR’s request to provide a digital model of agricultural extension to contribute to the current efforts to improve extension services in Egypt. The use of appropriate Information Communication Technology (ICT) applications can facilitate the flow of information and access to extension services for the farmers and rural women; it also facilitates access to markets, information and entrepreneurial opportunities”, Hussein Gadain FAO Rep., said.
Based on a survey carried out by the FAO project team, the thematic areas selected for this model are: Citrus, Date Palm, Household Poultry Production, and Human Nutrition. The project team members work closely with experts from various research facilities of the Agriculture Research Centre to convert technical content into digital content to be disseminated through mobile application. This will done in close coordination with experts in FAO HQ in Rome.
“FAO participation, along with its partners in the development and implementation of digital inclusion initiatives, in the expansion of innovative digital services, and providing solutions to the needs of poor families is in line with SDGs 2030. Particular emphasis will be put on the needs of youth and women, breaking down the barriers for access and use of information through digital technologies, promoting digital inclusion for smallholders and family farmers,” Mr Gadain added.
FAO will hold Training of Trainers (ToT) programmes on the thematic areas and use of the mobile application will be delivered to MoALR extension personnel. Awareness sessions will also be provided to farmers to introduce them to the new application.