e-Agriculture Newsletter November, 2017

NewsletterIssued on 07.09.2018
Monthly Newsletter

e-Agriculture Newsletter November, 2017


In October, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) published ‘The State of Food and Agriculture’ 2017 (SOFA,2017). SOFA is one of FAO’s annual flagship publications that has been published constantly since 1947.

The State of Food and Agriculture aims at bringing to a wider audience balanced science-based assessment of important issues in the field of food and agriculture. SOFA, 2017 focused on leveraging food systems for inclusive rural transformation. The report noted that rural areas, seen as poverty traps, are key to economic growth in developing countries. The full summary of the report’s key messages can be read here.

SOFA and the potential of information and communications technology

One of the key messages of SOFA is that, “modern information and communication technologies are giving multiple options for buying inputs, selling outputs and improving their access to information” (SOFA,2017:49)

The report noted that there is potential in the use of information and communications technologies in helping countries eradicating hunger. The proliferation and improvement in mobile phone coverage and adoption was applauded. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, mobile phone networks covered less than 10% of the population in 1999 and to date the coverage has increased to 90%.

Some of the benefits of mobile phone increase noted included shortening the distance between isolated smallholder farmers and markets (and other essential services); improved extension support services, for example in India, the national government launched the Kisan Call Centre in 2014 to respond to questions raised by farmers in local dialects.

In Sri Lanka, a virtual trading floor, FarmerNet, connects produce buyers and farmers via text messaging. The other growing use being e-voucher and mobile finance systems for farmers. The report estimates that in future such systems could provide a platform for connecting millions of once-inaccessible small holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

More information here


The G7 Ministers meetings on ICT and Industry and the other on Agriculture were held in September and October respectively. The October 2017, G7 Agriculture ministerial meeting focused on the protection of producers’ income in the context of market crises, natural disasters and climate change. The meeting also looked at the role of agricultural cooperation in migration management. The discussions tied in well with the global issue of migration which also was the heart of discussion of the World Food Day on October 16th. Read more

While the G7 ICT and Industry Ministers met earlier in September 2017, where they discussed trends in technology and their impact on SMEs competitiveness and inclusiveness in the Next Production Revolution (NPR). In the declaration after the meeting they embraced openness as a key feature of the digital transformation. Read more 


In the month of October 2017, the e-Agriculture platform is hosting the e-Agriculture Learning Activity on drones. This self-learning activity is intended to increase the appreciation of drones to members and followers of the e-Agriculture Community of Practice (CoP).

Highlight of the e-Agriculture Learning Activity 

First week summary. The first  week of this activity saw participants interacting with different types of content such as webinars, dedicated pages, recorded content, YouTube videos and WhatsApp discussion group. The variety of content spiced up the learning approach as it was designed to allow individuals without a background in drones to appreciate the learning path and also offer experienced users a chance to observe the various application of drones in agriculture and rural development. More information

Second week summary. During the second week of the activity participants reviewed academic literature on drones, including the ongoing research from Catheline Pieters on the monitoring of orchards using drones. The participants also had the opportunity to present their work during a participants panel and  a peer assist was organizedwhich sought to guide participants in sharing their experiences on drones. More information


This video is the recording of a live webinar in the framework of the e-Agriculture Learning Activity on the use of Drones in Agriculture and Rural Development held on the 19th of October 2017 on the topic of Airborne Agriculture Analytics with Matthew Barre from SLANTRANGE. SLANTRANGE has created a technology platform that overcomes both of these limitations, enabling an efficient and scalable solution that can be utilized on all of the world's agriculture acres. This webinar overviewed the technology as well as several examples of how the products are creating real value on farms across the globe. More information

This is a recorded talk that was presented by Gerard Sylvester from FAO and his presentation introduced drones, provided some useful definitions, presented different types of drones and provided an overview of various equipment associated with drones.

More information

In this recording Maricarmen Ruiz from FAO Panama shared her experience on the use of drones for community forest monitoring, while working closely with Indigenous Communities in Panama during a project that was called “Community monitoring of forests in indigenous territories in Panama” supported by ONU-REDD.

She explained why and how the technology was introduced, gave some insights in what worked well and what challenges were faced and what impact the project had on the communities involved. More Information


The e-Agriculture Team held three forum discussions in 2017, these can be viewed in the forums page. The forum report for the 1st e-Agriculture Forum of the year is now published.

The role of ICTs for Sustainable Crop Production Intensification of Horticulture Crop-Based Systems


This discussion summary outlines the contributions made during the online discussion on the role of ICTs for Sustainable Crop Production Intensification (SCPI) of horticulture crop-based systems held from 6 March to 4 April 2017 on the e-Agriculture platform. The discussions brought together experts from different backgrounds, who shared their vision regarding three pre-designed questions.

The forum was well received by the participants as evidenced by the quality and quantity of contributions submitted. It was widely acknowledged that, to sustainably increase horticulture crop production there is a need of embracing ICT, as it offers and promises a multitude of advantages for producing more with less.

Read the report here

The discussion and comments from the participants in that forum can be reviewed here  


The following is a selection of the news and ICT activities from e-Agriculture partners. The full listing of e-Agriculture partners can be found here

World Bank Group

Course Announcement - Digital Dividends: Strengthening the Analog Foundation of the Digital Revolution

The World Bank is offering the "Digital Dividends: Strengthening the Analog Foundation of the Digital Revolution" course which is open from the 7th of November to the 20th of December 2017. The course will benefit a variety of audiences, ranging from student to policymaker, and from entrepreneur to civic actor.

Course Description

Using a variety of learning tools and methodologies, this course will help you understand the role that the internet plays in economic development, and in the lives of people and businesses in general. Traditional development challenges are preventing the digital revolution from fulfilling its transformative potential: the opportunity to bring broader development gains in the form of faster growth, more jobs and better services to economies. In this course, you’ll explore answers to the following key questions: What are the challenges that prevent digital dividends from spreading more rapidly? What are the most important returns to digital investments? What should be done to fully benefit from the digital revolution?

More information here

The Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA)

Social Good Summit Geneva

CTA is partnered with the United Nations Development Programme and hosted the 'Social Good Summit Geneva" which was held under the theme, supporting entrepreneurs to attract investment opportunities. The summit focused on the catalytic role that agriculture, entrepreneurship and ICT innovation can play for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). CTA has been supporting entrepreneurship in ICT for the agrifood market sector through a variety of initiatives, such as the AgriHack Talent programme, whose aim is to help develop business services offered by young e-agriculture start-ups, as well as to contribute to accelerating the adoption of innovations for stronger productivity by the agrifood sector in ACP countries.

The following start ups which CTA is supporting were highlighted:- Hello Tractor (Nigeria), mAgri (Botswana),Ensibuuko (Uganda)FarmDrive (Kenya), Tech–Innov SARL (Niger), Sooretul (Senegal), Revofarm (Jamaica). More information here

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU)

ITU has published its recent newsletter, the WSIS Flash which focuses mainly on the WSIS Forum 2018. This Issue reviews the WSIS Forum 2018 Open Consultation Process, outlining the preparatory process. The WSIS Forum is a unique event of its kind where the programme and agenda are completely crowdsourced. The organizers of the process are ITU, UNESCO,UNCTAD and UNDP.

In this issue of their newsletter, one can read the following topics:-

  • WSIS Forum 2018: Contribute to the Open Consultation Process
  • WSIS Stocktaking Process: Call for New Entries and Regional Reports
  • WSIS Prizes 2018: New Call is Launched
  • UNGIS Members Calendar of Events
  • Become a sponsor of WSIS Forum 2018 and contribute to the WSIS Fund In Trust
  • EQUALS in Tech Awards
  • Online Open Consultation on the topic of "Bridging the Digital Gender Divide"
  • Follow and communicate with the WSIS Process

More information here


In the upcoming months the following events from the community are on schedule. These include meetings, workshops and seminars.

The full collection of past, present and future events can be read here. To submit events for inclusion in the calender of events consult this guide

To include your non-commercial event on the e-Agriculture platform, we would need the following details, title, short description, location and URL of the original announcement.

Selected upcoming events 

Digital Dividends: Strengthening the Analog Foundation of the Digital Revolution - (course) 7 November to 19 December 2017

AACC' 17: International Conference of ICT For Adapting Agriculture To Climate Change -22-24 November 2017

The 4th Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture - 28 - 30 November 2017

10th ICT4D Conference to be held in Lusaka, Zambia, on 8-10 May 2018 


Below we highlight a selection of news published on e-Agriculture, these include news articles on ICTs, activities in the agriculture and rural development. The full news listing can be read here.

G7 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting communiqué: Empowering farmers, developing rural areas and enhancing cooperation to feed the planet

read more

CTA Perception Survey on the Use of Drones for Agriculture

read more

#SmartFarming4AP – a Pitch Competition for AgTech companies for Andhra Pradesh, India

read more

The Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum) celebrates 10 years

read more

G7 ICT and Industry Ministers’ declaration making the next production revolution inclusive, open and secure

read more

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017

read more

WHAT IS......Peer Assist?

This section will introduce each time a new technological term used in agriculture and explain what it means. Furthermore, links to some resources will be provided. To suggest new terms write to us 

What is Peer Assist?

The Peer Assist is a tool which supports a ‘learning before doing’ processes in which advice is sought from someone else, or a group that has/have done something similar. This tool encourages participatory learning, by asking those with experience in certain activities to assist those wishing to benefit from their knowledge, through a systematic process, towards strengthened mutual learning - Source FAO

The purpose of the e-Agriculture Newsletter is to bring to the attention of the e-Agriculture community recent news, events and achievements in the field of ICTs and agriculture. If you have any contribution, suggestion, or need assistance with receiving this newsletter, please contact us at e-agriculture@fao.org. You received this message because you are subscribed to the e-Agriculture Newsletter