E-Agriculture

Wilfried Baudoin

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Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), in support of Sustainable Crop Production Intensification (SCPI) are a means to help people for easily accessing information and gaining knowledge to make SCPI happen, with information related to the different components of the value chain from site selection to marketing and consumption. Information and Communication Technologies can greatly facilitate the access to and exchange of information. It also enables people to extend their studies and broaden their knowledge. These technologies are also widely used as tools and processes that help people store and easily retrieve information including databases, smartphone applications, and thematic national, regional or global networks.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) uses a wide range of Information and Communications Technologies to provide open-source access to up-to-date information about hunger and malnutrition challenges and solutions.

In support of Sustainable Crop Production Intensification (SCPI), FAO launched HORTIVAR, a geo-referenced database on the agronomic performances of horticulture cultivars in different agro-climatic environments. It contains information about the cultivation of vegetables, roots & tubers, fruits, mushrooms, ornamentals and herbs and condiments. FAO manages and updates the software to meet users’ requirements. It is accessible Click here 

HORTIVAR contains information about horticultural crop cultivars, production and protection practices aiming to assist growers in making the appropriate cropping choices in a specific site and agro-ecological environment.

HORTIVAR also provides access to a network of individual scientists and growers who have contributed with horticulture production data uploaded in the database. It also provides easy access to seed sources worldwide. To date 90.000 entries (datasets) have been uploaded by 1354 individual partners and 76 partner institutions from all over the world.

In order to foster and facilitate the use of HORTIVAR by growers, traders and scientists, it is suggested to develop digital applications to better fulfil its role as an informative tool for horticultural practitioners, an initiative which is quite feasible reading from the contributions made so far.

By Wilfried Baudoin -Senior Agronomist /Horticulture Specialist- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

 

Welcome everybody, to this global discussion on the role of ICTs in ‘Sustainable Crop Production Intensification’ (SCPI) with a particular focus on horticulture crop based systems (mainly fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers).

In the next three weeks, we are looking forward to exciting discussions – at the beginning of each week a guiding discussion question (setting the theme) will be posted on the forum and you are free to reply with your contributions.

As you know, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play a vital role in agricultural production. However, within horticulture crop-based systems, the application and use of ICTs is limited and less understood.

Many stakeholders within the agricultural sector highlighted the importance of ICTs for sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and facilitating access to agricultural information and services by marginalized groups (mainly women and the youth) and poor communities.

At the recently held G20 Ministers meeting, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the  United Nations (FAO) remarked “ICTs can have a profound impact on the efficiency, resilience, and inclusion of poor family famers”, (Graziano da Silva -January, 2017).

The ability of ICTs to bring refreshed momentum to agriculture appears even more compelling in light of rising investments in agricultural research, the private sector’s strong interest in the development and spread of ICTs, and the upsurge of organizations committed to the agricultural development agenda; in the holistic achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Against this background, efforts were made by FAO, other UN Agencies and the broader developmental partners to apply various ICT solutions to the development agenda.

These efforts have been randomly reported and applied globally also within agriculture. The commonly known application of ICTs is in information dissemination and awareness raising through mobile phones and various applications, radio, TV, video, etc.

The latest technologies for sustainably increasing crop production include for example sensors for real-time traceability and the use of GPS data.  Leading towards precision farming and other climate smart farming practices.

With this in mind, I would like to invite you to share your practical experiences with the use of ICTs and emerging technologies in sustainable intensification of horticulture crop-based systems. We are looking forward to a fruitful discussion!