FAO hails first contribution to promoting digital agriculture through knowledge-sharing

FAO's e-agriculture platform, made to promote dialogue and innovation, now hosts China's 2019-25 development plan

7 February 2020, Rome - FAO today welcomes the sharing of China's digital agriculture plan on its e-agriculture platform. This contribution comes on the heels of the latest Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA), where agriculture ministers of 71 nations welcomed the advancement in creating an International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture.

China's Development Plan for Digital Agriculture and Rural Areas (2019-2025) has been made available on FAO's e-agriculture website, in English and Chinese.  

"Digitalization has become an important driving force for rural transformation, creating new opportunities for farmers," said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. "I thank China for making available through FAO its national plan, sharing with others its experiences and good practices. I hope there will other countries joining in, to help promote dialogue and digital agriculture across the world."  

The International Digital Council for Food and Agriculture that is being created would provide strategic policy recommendations on the use of digitalization in food and agriculture, share best practices, and promote international cooperation by exchanging ideas and experiences across borders.

Requested by agriculture ministers at GFFA 2019, the concept note for establishment of the Council was prepared by FAO and partner international organisations and will be presented to FAO's governing bodies for endorsement later this year. The Digital Council would help forge consensus on norms and ultimately lower costs, boost efficiency and contribute to narrowing the world's digital divides.

Broadband villages

China's offer of its national plan through FAO's e-agriculture platform is an early step in this knowledge-sharing process. The plan provides guidelines and actionable points for utilizing technology and big data, for examples, in furthering rural digital transformation.

In recent years, China has made great strides in integrating the internet, big data and artificial intelligence in the development of agriculture and accelerating the use of e-commerce in rural areas. One example was the creation of ‘broadband villages' which improved internet speed and reduced tariffs to encourage farmers to adopt more internet-based solutions.

In 2018, 96 percent of villages in the country boasted optical fiber coverage. This investment propelled rural e-commerce and empowered more farmers to sell their products online, leading to a 43.3 percent increase in the national agricultural product network retail sales.

A tool in today's challenges

Digital technologies offer unique opportunities in helping the global agri-food system face the challenge of providing enough, quality and nutritious food to feed an ever-growing population.

Helping to increase agricultural production and productivity while promoting efficient use of resources, digitalization can also boost livelihoods and improve the living conditions of people, particularly farmers, in rural areas.

Photo: ©FAO/Nicola Selleri
Technology has a growing role in agriculture.