FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Op-Ed: The fourth agriculture revolution, rural Jordan going digital

June 23, 2020

The agricultural sector of Jordan is at a turning point. The current context, characterized by slow-onset climate change impact and sudden-onset shocks, such as the Covid-19 related lockdown, is calling for a new revolution of the food systems. Jordan famers, despite the environmental challenges they are facing, have still so much to offer by embracing a technological shift. The 4th Agricultural Revolution of the human kind. The era of digitalization connecting the most isolated rural communities to science and market.

Ten thousand years ago, the first Agriculture Revolution took place here, in the Fertile Crescent. It transitioned communities from a nomadic hunter-gatherer way of life to a more settled one, as a result of the domestication of various plant and animal species. The second and the third Revolutions, during the 18th and 20th centuries, drastically increased the food productivity and progressively greening the production systems to preserve our planet for future generations.

Despite these tremendous achievements of Agriculture, which is the primary sector of the economy, the poverty incidence and gap tend to be higher in rural areas, doubling the urban one.  The explanation lies in the rural-urban divide, the formal-informal divide that create a lack of connection to opportunities in the rural areas.

The 4th Agricultural Revolution is the one that brings the promise of connection. With over 80 percent of the Jordanian farmers using smartphones, the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) will change the way agriculture is doing business. The widespread adoption of ICTs reduces information gaps and transaction costs, improves service delivery, creates new jobs, generates new revenue streams, and helps conserve resources. ICTs also transforms the way people and governments work, interact, and communicate. These technologies are effective instruments for empowering rural populations, for increasing choices for rural men and women, especially youth, and for enhancing their abilities to increase incomes and participate in a more effective manner in the development of their communities.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) are embarking smallholder farmers in this new era: the @griculture. Thanks to a Digital Service Portfolio (DSP), farmers will have the opportunity to communicate directly with agronomists, and take informed decisions on their production and marketing investments in a more timely and efficient manner. The DSP is an open platform that will initially support applications on weather, plant and animal diseases and market opportunities. Supporting the exchange of knowledge and innovation, FAO has also launched the e-agriculture community of practice; a platform where people from all over the world can exchange information, ideas and resources for sustainable agriculture and rural development. The platform has over 14,000 members from 170 countries and territories. This will be now open to Jordan producers too.

Digital registration of farmers will also aim at ensuring a starting point for effective outreach and coverage of services and benefits such as social protection, financial services and insurance schemes.

This 4th Revolution is not only a technical one, it is a social transformation as well, which will impact the development and the social inclusion by progressively integrating smallholder farmers in a more formal settings in which they will take their share.

For Jordan farmers, being now part of a connected world, the sky will be the limit!

 

Alexis Bonte                                                          Dr. Nizar Haddad

Representative a.i.                                                 Director General

Food and Agriculture Organization                  National Agricultural Research Center

United Nations                                                     Ministry of Agriculture      


25/06/2020

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