E-Agriculture

Jacques Drolet

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Jacques Drolet
Jacques DroletIDRGGermany

Thank you Nicolene. As for the cold we could exchange place, I am a winter person :-) .

One best talk about what knows best. In my case, access and benefit for smallholder farmers of data relative to plant health (ICM, IPM, including the products) is possible only if we do the following:

1- Have the National, regional, international players (private and governmental) agree on who does what, collaborate, and avoid by all means duplication. Concretely, the owners of data (private and governmental) (ex. FAO, CABI, Agrobase-Logigram, etc ) have to come to the table and agree on a way how this information is going to be made public and how to finance this access. Of course there are ways but that would take us beyond the scope of the day.

2- Smallholders have to experience the positive change that this information brings, in terms of safety, quality of the production, and trade opening (non-tariif trade irritants are gone), level playing field between countries. This means training for one crop/pest scenario/region. Once experienced, they know how to do the next ones.

3- Smallholders have to participate with the regulators (gov), with the IPM promoters and the plant protection products industry to the shaping of the plant protection toolbox. Ideally, and practically once a year, regionally. Again, without duplication... cooperation between institutions and the private sector is the key word. And yes it challenges the way things are done now. And yes it is a paradigm shift that leads to sustainability, ... by experience.

Jacques Drolet
Jacques DroletIDRGGermany

My no competition comment was in no way a recommendation for a statu quo :-) We are always on the way toward something better. What I referred to is the actual situation where institutions (incl. the FAO) do work that already exist (either done by other institutions or by the private sector) and thereby uses resources which could be better utilized. Collaboration instead of redundancy would be another way to put it.

On another stream, I acknowledge that there is a difficult balance between maintaining a standard and improving it, balance that is and will remain difficult, but here again collaboration among the key stakeholders is key. Hope this helps :-)

Jacques Drolet
Jacques DroletIDRGGermany

Hi Thembani. I agree. I also think that whatever the farmer/grower need should be available on line both for what is available now and also for what should be available when a new problem shows up. If, like in the case of the fall armyworm, growers and responsibles do not have the instant information of what is available worldwide to address the problem, they can not establish a sustainable strategy and try to solve the problem with the tools they ve now which either do nto work or cause more collateral damages than they solve the problem. I bring the element of rapid response into the discussion as well which in principle should be a component of open data.

Jacques Drolet
Jacques DroletIDRGGermany

Thank you Manuel for the interesting introduction. I see a future functional open data exchange where growers, government, and industry data frofit from each other in an open way. Let me explain how it could look like from my corner of the forest: plant protection. Growers collect data on their crop, their pest status and damage. Growers have access to the database of all available tools worldwide. Growers are empowered to contact the industry and governments to get access to what they need (safe and tools that allow them to trade, ex. non-tariff trade irritants). Government regulators will suppoort growers demand to the plant protection industry for the submission of OECD registration packages. All countries (regulators) with the same need get together and collaborate to assess and eventually register what the growers need. The industry make their intention known and growers can support the building of efficacy data. I could go on for another chapter but I think that at this point, it may be obvious to most that this tranparency of information leads to increased safety, "motivates" the plant proteciton industry to make safe products available where they would normally not, make assessment possible for the regulators who is now swamped by work and even in Germany does not delivr to more than 60% of the needs, allow for trade because growers now have access to all the tools they need to avoid trade irritants, and resistance. This would contirbute to establish a level playing field which is now the biggest blockage for agricutlure to become the economic motor it can be. Again I could go on for a long while but the message is I hope clear. Again, to link thihs to the first day on ehtics, we hvae to move from competition to collaboration. Can we? It does not take much in terms of technology and data, as it is all there, but it takes humm, well, social courage. Do we have it?

Jacques Drolet
Jacques DroletIDRGGermany

I know of a policy/ethical issue that prevents farmers from accessing what they need to know to grow and protect their crops sustainably. Context: Ressources to produce quality databases is limited. What we must avoid by all means is redundancy. I would humbly argue that when an instiution like the FAO decides to develop say a database of all plant health products (&use direction) available by crop/pest/country, such a database should not exist already. If it already exists, one should find a cooperative solution instead of a competitive one. If after working on such a database for 10 years, one reaches about 30% of the needed information and can not update it, it is a sign that a cooperation path should be taken. If nevertheless, one pursue the duplication, I would argue that it is the open data concept as whole that suffers and consequently, the growers, the food chain, and each and everyone of us.

So my main message is that open data, whatever it is, will not deliver if we stay in the competitive mode and avoid the cooperative mode. There are enough agricultural themes for all the existing agricultural institutions but the attibution should be by merit, globally fair and avoid competitive duplication. Kind regards to all.

Jacques Drolet
Jacques DroletIDRGGermany

Although quantity and quality of food ,feed, fibers, etc. and their trade are dependent on the plant and product protection product  toolbox, three of the four main bottle necks are ICT in nature: (i) access to the knowledge of what is available in one country, (iii) access to the knowledge of what is allowed in the trading-buying country, (iii)  access to the knowledge of what is available somewhere else for growers to inform the plant protection industry of their needs and get access ot it. For those who wonder, the fourth bottle neck is regulary harmonization where training is more the bottle neck although ICT could contribute greatly. Since this information already exist, andn since a duplication has already been attempted by the FAO without success but wiht high cost, how could the Open data community make a common good so critical to growers, avaialble for all. As an example, the Canadian government made this information available for everybody with a canadian IP. This is a core question and I would argue that no data is free. Someone paid for it, one way or another. All governmental data, all NGO data, all institutional data have been paid for by paying their employees. The question is how do we get access to key data that exist in the private sector and that can not be duplicated for which the need for empowerment is so important and critical ( I would argue that as a society, we can not afford anyway to duplicate such work). Of course, this does not apply only to plant and product protection, but it is a concrete example that fundamentally govern production volume, quantity, and their trade and therefore leads me to position it as a good concrete example we ought to tackle as Open data community.

Thankn you to the organisers and participants for the very involved & enlightened inputs.

Jacques