FAO, ITU and Zhejiang University are joining forces at WSIS Forum 2021 on ´E-commerce for Agriculture and Rural Development´ and launch the Digital Agriculture Report
In difficult times where by 2050, a 60% of increase in food production will be necessary to cover the needs of the expected 9.6 billion people of our planet and where this foreseen situation of food insecurity has already been aggravated by the Covid 19 pandemic that has triggered important negative impacts on agri food systems, seeking innovative applications of digital technology has become critical to transform the food and agriculture sector, address the new emerging global challenges of our world and achieve the SDGs.
In this challenging context, FAO is willing to continue working actively on finding the best solutions for a better production in better environments for better lives, and is participating again, in close collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Zhejiang University to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum 2021, which topic this year focuses on ´ICTs for Inclusive, Resilient ad Sustainable Societies and Economies.
‘As WSIS 2021 this year focuses on E-commerce for Agriculture and Rural Development, FAO together with ITU and Zhejiang University aim at truly enhancing the cross-fertilization of ideas, innovation, knowledge and practices in the field of e-commerce by fostering discussions with a wide range of experts coming from various organizations, institutions, academics, as well as the private sector. It is only when we work together that real transformation can occur´ explains Ismahane Elouafi, FAO Chief scientist who will deliver the opening speech at the event.
The whole WSIS agenda consists of a) high-level track (i.e. high-level policy session/ministerial roundtable); b) special tracks (i.e. hackathon, youth theme, women theme); c) series of WSIS Action Lines facilitation (i.e. agriculture, education, health); d) stocktaking; e) photo contest; f) WSIS Prizes; and g) open consultation.
You can find more information about WSIS Forum 2021 here.
FAO has facilitated WSIS Action Line C7 e-agriculture since 2005, using ICT (information and communication technologies) applications for agriculture. ‘I am very happy to see that our organizations have a clear and common focus on finding sustainable solutions in the field of food and agriculture. This highlights the crucial role of innovation that is also supported strongly by WSIS Action Line´ says Dejan Jakovjlevic, Director of FAO IT Services.
Proposed panelists include representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Alibaba Group, and African young e-commerce entrepreneurs that will share their views on this important topic. E-commerce application scenarios will be specifically discussed, such as how e-commerce helps to address the problem of the sales and distribution of agricultural products how to promote the employment and entrepreneurship of rural youth through e-commerce, how online sales data guide the improvement of quality and quantity of agriculture products and promote rural and agricultural development, etc.
The joint session at the WSIS Forum will be held virtually Friday, 7 May 2021, 15:00-16:00 CEST
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Find more information about the WSIS Action Line C7 E-Agriculture agenda here.
During this session and following on the MoU signed between FAO and the School of Public Affairs of ZJU in December 2019, the Digital Agriculture Report will also be presented, based on the experiences of successful business models and results of technology applications in the field of e-commerce in China. ´The report will contribute to the discussion on the e-commerce for agriculture and rural development at the international community level and help us to better understand how to empower small and family farmers and improve the efficiency of distribution of the entire food system, from farm to table´ explains ZENG Meng, FAO Information Technology Officer who has been coordinating the publication.
FAO has been focusing its efforts over the last years to promote the digital transformation of world
agriculture and rural areas with digital solutions, through its support of Digital Agriculture Innovation Hubs. It has established key partnerships with Zhejiang University, Wageningen University, ITU, and other private sector entities. FAO’s International Platform for Digital Food and Agriculture is another initiative created to enhance awareness on issues specific to the digitalization of the food and agriculture sectors and provide policy recommendations to governments to support decision-making at higher levels. All these efforts intend to further develop e-agriculture with ICT applications and create a truly enabling ecosystem for international and regional exchanges and cooperation in the field of digital agriculture.
Agricultural industry is suffering indeed from decentralized production and management, weak competitiveness of products, high transaction cost and low degrees of standardization. Among many digital technologies related to development, e-commerce now stands out as a solution because it can instantly connect buyers and sellers, reduce transaction costs, avoid dealing face to face and create a new niche market tailored to the specific needs of the consumers.
´We are fully aware of the incredible potential that e-commerce represents as a development and exponential growth tool for the wide range of stakeholders in the agri-food systems that engage in that process. We hope the sharing of rural e-commerce experience from China can be helpful and informative to other developing countries´ says Prof WEI Longbao from Zhejiang University. FAO and Zhejiang University have also organized the Digital Agriculture Forum and a Global AgriInno Challenge in December last year to enhance practice exchanges and empower young agripreneurs. ´These events were a great success and this yearly joint publication of a report to strengthen knowledge and expertise sharing in the digital agriculture sector will constitute another key milestone for all of us´, adds Prof Wei.
How to establish a new market information circulation model with updated standards and an efficient circulation of agricultural products is needed more than ever in these pandemic times. As it enables the switch to more modern tools and techniques, E-commerce may provide mature and advanced technical conditions that can contribute providing effective solutions to the above problems, necessary for the next century.
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The WSIS Forum represents the world's largest annual gathering of the ‘ICT for development’ community. It has started in January this year and is running until the 21st of May, gathering a whole community of experts
and representatives of the public and private sector to advance development goals. Co-organized by ITU, UNESCO, UNDP and UNCTAD, it has proven since its creation in 2005 to be an efficient mechanism for
coordination of multi- stakeholder implementation activities, information exchange, creation of knowledge, sharing of best practices and continues to help in developing multi-stakeholder and public/private partnerships.