Posts on the topic "Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)"

Posts on the topic "Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR)"

  • Blog Post24.07.2023

    Part 2 of exchanges in the e-conversation on "Digitalization and agroecology: a challenging marriage?" - Join us!

    The e-agriculture team kindly agreed to let us re-post 2- or 3-day threads from the e-conversation that we are conducting on "Digitalization and agroecology: a challenging marriage?".

    This e-conversation is hosted by the Digital Agri Hub in partnership with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), the University of British Columbia, and the Agroecology Coalition

    Join us or invite your colleagues and peers to join us using this link: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/join. (If you are a member of D4Ag already, just follow the conversation here: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/topic/100190535 (login required).

    We posted the conversation of the first 3 days here: 


    Below is the second part that closes the first week and introduces the second question. 

    Part 2 - #Digitalisation and #agroecology a challenging marriage? Series 2, #e-conversation 2| 

    Ronald Kondwani Udedi Jul 19

    Malawi started with a coercive agricultural extension system in the colonial period that was enforced through a Natural Resources Ordinance enacted in 1946 which legalized the use of force in order to compel smallholder African farmers to follow certain prescribed farming practices.... we lost our ways of farming organically... 76 years later we are blamed for being obsessed maize and fertiliser ....


    I come from there's a saying "When selfish people get to the top they remove ladders". Digitalisation is a good thing just as agroecology and there should not be any attempt to tilt Digitalisation to bias agroecology. Any attempt to do this is injustice for smallholder farmers who are food insufficient and also who are being conned by middle men because of lack of better markets.

    Atif KHAN Jul 19      

    Nice explanation Ashish.

    I am taking the liberty to add a phrase in your maxim.

    'If the technology decreases the operational (input) cost or increases the revenue or decreases complexity of the smallholder - consider it - else send it back to the drawing board'


    Valeria Pesce Jul 19

    Thanks for the many insightful contributions! 

    Some of your posts highlight the importance of context-specificity and diversity for the agroecological approach vs. standardization and homogeneity in digital solutions (or at least in mainstream digital solutions for industrial agriculture). 
    To provoke a little, I wanted to share a few sentences from an article (citation below) that actually maintains that Precision Agriculture can support diversity and specificity: in particular, that it "offers the local information required to make field-specific agroecological recommendations", that PA in the context of On-Farm-Experimentation trials "places agriculture in an ecological context that is site, history, and time specific" and that "we can now see a future where technology can reintroduce a farmer to the complexity of the ecological interactions on their land".
    (Duff, H.; Hegedus, P.B.; Loewen, S.; Bass, T.; Maxwell, B.D. Precision Agroecology. Sustainability 2022, 14, 106. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14010106

    What do you think? It seems that this is mostly about data, which is indeed local and specific, but what about the decision-making algorithms?

    Gram Disha Trust Jul 20

    Hello Atif,

    Appreciate your reply. However replacing the 'and' with an 'or' dilutes the very purpose of the Maxim. I would continue to hold it in strict abeyance to ensure that the cross between science and economics in rolling out 'solutions' for sustainability need necessarily be thought through hard and deep before proposing it as solutions at all. All technology comes at a cost, which is directly or indirectly borne out by the farmers at their own expense. 

    Consider another technology example - Blockchain. The very purpose of Blockchain to exist is based on the understanding that there is 'NO' systemic trust between parties. Whereas even without blockchain, there are technical methods to enhance trust between parties instead of assuming there will continue to be none. The implementation of a system based on Blockchain, again comes at a cost. If one were to change the 'and' to 'or' in the Maxim - then it is very easy for technology implementers to declare that blockchain 'increases' revenue through enhanced transaction value through better quality per transaction. Since the other aspects are forgone (i.e. Cost and complexity) - just this 'or' will satisfy the veracity of Blockchain in a system even if it increases cost and complexity. Both cost and complexity are necessary in conjunction within the Maxim rather than disjunction. 

    I could also apply the same to other aspects of technology - Drones e.g. - In India we are seeing that most advents of technology - given their own questionable sustainability e.g. End of Life of Solar Panels or lack or recycling of Battery Banks or Plastics of Drones etc - result in repair and refuse at the rural level. We have a developing term for it in India which may as well resonate in Pakistan 'Mehengaa Khilona' or 'Expensive Toy'!! Eventually when these technologies wear out at their extremities, village kids end up playing with the otherwise plastic waste. We are seeing these aspects now with the way IoT sensors are being deployed in Farmers Fields based on - Temperature, Soil, Luminosity, Moisture - to form Cloud Based correlations to generate specific (and biased) advisories to farmers to nudge them to 'Buy' products by companies which offer better margins to the technology providers. The farmer ends up paying upto INR 50000 (about USD 600) upfront for the hardware costs, in cases also yearly license of Cloud Access - only to be given biased advisory profiteering Corporates themselves. Companies then go on a Publicity Blitz that the Farmers Yield 'Increased' due to the technology - whereas no proof is offered for the same (satisfying the 'OR' in the maxim), just an advertised declaration (to gain even more farmers as customers), cost is borne by the farmer and locked in for a few years with the company. By the time the farmer realises, if at all this investment yielded Net-Profit - the company has already earned in valuations and perhaps even exited, having sold the company to other investors!! This is the story of Agritech unfolding at least in India. So one realises that the Product is not the IoT or advisory inputs, but the company itself is the product. The farmer is simply incidental in accruing value for the Company (Product) in increasing its valuation and thus 'Used' at the end of the day. This aspect is the result of placing the 'or' instead of the 'and' in the Maxim. 

    Deeper aspects of such cross sections between 'science' and 'corporate economics' are unfolding and creeping into Agroecology too, all right in front of our eyes. Perhaps, discussions for another email thread.

    Ashish Gupta-jee  

    Ken (FAORAF) Jul 21      

    Dear all:

    Interesting elaborations. I can understand explanations provided by some colleagues regarding the lack of diversity or the increase in cost and complexity for smallholder farmers that the use of some digital technologies may generate. Maybe some precision agriculture uses and technologies are those which pose the greatest challenges to agroecology (though Ashish also mentioned blockchain for example).

    But my feeling is that when a farmer uses a feature or even a smartphone to receive advisory information, this is or can be fully compatible with agroecology. Same thing when a farmer uses WhatsApp to interact with a client and sell her bag of maize. Or when a drone operator helps to map the farms of a cooperative practicing agroecology to help them illustrate alternative collaterals and get loans. I also think precision agriculture may support diversity as illustrated by the quote shared by Valeria from the Precision Agroecology article.

    So yes, digital agriculture and agroecology may illustrate a challenging marriage in some cases, but it’s not by default considering the wide scope of digital agriculture ; it also depends on practices and design choices in specific situations.

    By the way, I am happy with the two maxims below, the original and amended one :-), let’s just keep the spirit of it.

    Ken Lohento
    Digital Agriculture Specialist
    Regional Office for Africa

    om goeckermann Jul 21      

    IMO one aspect of blockchain technology that is not discussed often enough is exactly countering the corporate profit model. Namely, personal sovereignty. Being ‘verifiably unique’ opens up an entire ecosystem of being paid for data, to contribute to resource mapping, and to qualify one’s voice when interacting with aid and governance.

    It is a tragedy that the only ones who seem to be able to afford access to rural India are the corporate entities preying on a specific ignorance of an otherwise ingenious people. 

    gianluca brunori Jul 21     

    Dear all,

    I do agree with @Ken that digital tools, if taken separately, can be fully compatible with agroecology. What I would like to point out is that depending on how digital tools are assembled together (also considering the social component, eg advisory networks), they can be enablers or obstacles to agroecology.

    For example, if assemblages are crop-specific, farmers might tend to prefer the crops for which the application exists and disregard the others. For this reason, digitalization for agroecology should be strongly problem-centered and should address the digital ecosystem of which the farmers are part.

    As for simplification/complexity, many precision farming solutions tend to simplify the work of farmers by embodying complex decision-making into digital tools. This might alter the labor/capital ratio, and create dependency of farmers on costly capital. As we know that agroecology is knowledge-intensive and is strongly based on context-spcific knowledge, it would need tools that help farmers to make sense of the complexity, in other words to boost local knowledge and as a consequence to empower them.

    Best regards,
    Gianluca Brunori
    Professor, Food policyDipartimento di scienze agrarie, alimentari e agro-ambientali (DISAAA)
    book: Innovation for Sustainability

    Valeria Pesce Jul 21

    Dear all, 

    Before moving to question 2, let me try to give a short recap of this first week of discussions. 

    It seems that there is a consensus on the fact that it's not that "digital" is per se incompatible with an agroecological approach: in your words, it depends on "how we design and deploy the tools", "practices and design choices in specific situations", "who develops the tool, what ways of thinking it privileges, what is measured and how, the model's assumptions, potential applications" and also "how the data are shared, who has access to them, and how their benefits and costs are distributed along the chain". 

    More in particular, you have given examples of how such compatibility can depend on the values behind the technologies (e.g. diversity as a challenge vs. diversity as a value; productivity vs. sustainability and holistic approach)the business models (corporate profit model, lock-in and data concentration vs. cooperative- or farmer-led models and data sovereignty; low/high operational (input) cost), design/delivery approaches (e.g. top-down and prescriptive vs. peer-to-peer and co-design), design choices (e.g. opaque standardized algorithms vs. transparent context-specific and farmer-centered algorithms), and ultimately the power dynamics that are triggered and favored (e.g. concentration of power in the hands of technology developers vs. empowerment of farmers through self-aggregation). 

    We are also aware that while not intrinsically incompatible with agroecology, the majority of mainstream digital technologies, in particular Precision Agriculture solutions, seem to "intentionally target and support a specific type of farming (e.g., large-scale commodity crops, conventional agriculture)".
    So, it doesn't have to be like this, it should not be like this, but we observe that at the moment in most cases it is like this. 

    This brings us to our second question, which I will send shortly, and is about HOW digital technologies can become more supportive of agroecology and whether you have experience or knowledge of uses of digital technologies in line with the agroecological approach.

    Thank you,

    Valeria Pesce Jul 22

    Question 2

    From our first week of discussions, it appears that depending on business models, values, and design/delivery approaches, digital technologies could support an agroecological approach.

    So, with our second question now we want to try to understand how

    a) How can digital technologies be more supportive of agroecology? For instance, which could be appropriate business models? What about experimenting with alternative providers, different forms of governance, collective ownership? Should we consider what is valued/measured and how? The degree of participatory design?

    b) What examples if any have you come across in your communities? Please share if you have experience or knowledge of uses of digital technologies in line with the agroecological approach.

    Thank you,
    Valeria Pesce
    Partnerships facilitator
    Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR)

    Caroline Figueres Jul 22

    Thanks Valeria for your excellent recap. I like very much:

    So, it doesn't have to be like this, it should not be like this, but we observe that at the moment in most cases it is like this.

    Unfortunately I have no practical experience of uses of digital technologies in line with the agroecological approach to share with you.  And I hope this conversation will allow me to be exposed to relevant cases.



    Join the conversation or invite your colleagues and peers to join us using this link: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/join. (If you are a member of D4Ag already, just follow the conversation here: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/topic/100190535 (login required).


    Digital technologies in Agriculture (ICTs)
  • Blog Post19.07.2023

    Initial exchanges in the e-conversation on "Digitalization and agroecology: a challenging marriage?" - Join us!

    The e-agriculture team kindly agreed to let us re-post 2- or 3-day threads from the e-conversation that we are conducting on "Digitalization and agroecology: a challenging marriage?".

    This e-conversation is hosted by the Digital Agri Hub in partnership with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), the University of British Columbia, and the Agroecology Coalition

    Join us or invite your colleagues and peers to join us using this link: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/join. (If you are a member of D4Ag already, just follow the conversation here: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/topic/100190535 (login required).

    Here's how the conversation is going so far:

    #Digitalisation and #agroecology a challenging marriage? Series 2, #e-conversation 2| 

    Valeria Pesce Jul 17   

    Dear members of the D4Ag community, 

    The debate on whether digital solutions are compatible with agroecology is quite polarized.  Some people believe that precision farming technologies, which use digital tools to improve agricultural practices, can be beneficial for agroecology: they can help farmers manage soil and crop health, reduce chemical use, optimize resource efficiency and get context-specific information and recommendations. Many also observe that digital communications tools and online platforms improve access to markets, direct producer-consumer linkages, and knowledge exchange.  On the other hand, critics argue that precision technologies prioritize productivity over ecological considerations, leading to monocultures and increased chemical use, and digital technologies in general perpetuate the concentration of power, including data and insights, in the hands of a few big corporate actors. They also highlight the risk of a lock-in effect of precision agriculture, i.e., the need for farmers to conform to pre-built agtech solutions, and subsequent devaluation of farmers’ knowledge.      

    Our first question, which we invite you to answer from today, is:  Which aspects of digital agriculture do you see as potentially most incompatible with the agroecological approach? Is it mainly precision farming? Is it the technologies themselves or the business models behind them? 

    Let's get this conversation going and encourage a lively dialogue, so we can all learn and grow together. 

    Instructions on how the e-conversations work are found here: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/wiki/28552.  

    Valeria Pesce 
    Partnerships’ facilitator 
    Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR) 

    Giacomo Rambaldi Jul 17   

    Thanks Valeria for initiating the conversation. Dear member of the D4Ag dgroup, This e-conversation is hosted by the Digital Agri Hub in partnership with GFAR, the University of British Columbia, and the Agroecology Coalition with an agreement to re-post daily digests on the FAO e-agriculture platform. You are welcome to invite your colleagues and peers to join it using this link: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/join 

    Best regards 
    Giacomo Rambaldi 

    Jo Rodgers Jul 17   

    One of the main criticisms of digital agriculture has been that for advice the messaging has tended to be “top-down” and only available in major languages.  It has also tended to be “sponsored” by large agro-chemical companies interested in selling products which are often damaging to human health and the environment.  

    There are very few examples of participatory approaches, valuing the breadth of indigenous knowledge.There is deep suspicion of the data harvesting carried out by phone companies, tech companies and input suppliers.  Who owns the data? how is it used? and who benefits?  Can use of the data be shown to benefit farmers working to agroecology principles?

    Digital normally refers to “online” either by phone or internet connection, but digital need not mean that. Phone and internet connections can be difficult and especially in Africa can be expensive. Working with smallholder farmers, digital can work offline.
    At Access Agriculture we believe that a true “service-orientated” approach using tools like the solar-powered smart projector can assist with “peer to peer” learning.  Practical videos in local languages without the need for electricity, internet or mobile signal.  Much of this interaction has been led by teams of “Entrepreneurs for Rural Access” delivering video shows to remote communities using local languages and encouraging them to copy from others.

    These videos are compiled to agroecology principles and show solutions based on farmer knowledge and experience. Further information here https://www.accessagriculture.org/video-distribution
    Or jo@...

    gianluca brunori Jul 17  

    In my view, digitalisation of agroecology rests on a different set of design principles, which relate both to the processes and to the decision-making models. 

    Precision farming is mainly designed for conventional agriculture, and can hardly be adapted as it is to agroecological practices. In fact, conventional agriculture tends to attribute a negative value to diversity, and precision farming aims at detecting diversity to pursue homogeneity and reduce complexity. Also the decision-making model to which precision farming is inspired tends to provide farmers with technological 'black boxes' that reduce the amount of information that farmers have to process in order to make decisions.  

    On the contrary, agroecology considers diversity as a key asset, and one of its main goals is diversification and optimization of the value that diversity can generate. The decision-making model, and the role of farmers, is in this case based on managing diversity and dealing with complexity. This creates a burden on farmers, who have to process a lot of information and develop very complex mental maps.    

    These differences should be taken into consideration when designing digital solutions. Rather than proposing solutions generated in other contexts, research should be based on an intense interaction between technology developers and agroecological farmers to study farmers' environment and their decision making process, and to provide solutions that help farmers to map and organize diversity and to predict different outcomes of different combinations. 

    Gianluca Brunori   
    Professor, Food policyDipartimento di scienze agrarie, alimentari e agro-ambientali
    (DISAAA)Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa

    Olufemi Isimikalu Jul 17   

    Good day all. In my opinion, the business model behind digital agriculture technologies inform the overall approach of deployment and functioning, and could be seen as potentially the most important factor in engendering an agroecological approach.  

    Foremostly, to ensure compatibility between digital agriculture and the agroecological approach, it is important to integrate digital tools within holistic agroecological systems that prioritize ecological sustainability, biodiversity, and socio-economic considerations. There's also the need for knowledge exchange and capacity building between farmers, researchers, and technology developers to ensure that digital tools are developed and utilized in a way that respects and enhances traditional knowledge. This can come in the form of capacity building programs that empower farmers to make informed decisions regarding the adoption and use of digital agriculture tools. 
    It is also vital to encourage open data initiatives and interoperability standards to address concerns regarding data ownership and concentration of power in the hands of technology developers. This will facilitate data sharing, transparency, and enable farmers to access and analyze information from various sources to make informed decisions. 

    Policy and regulatory frameworks that address the potential negative impacts of digital agriculture on agroecology should also be put in place. This can include measures to safeguard biodiversity, promote sustainable practices, protect farmers' rights, and ensure fair access to digital tools and data. The backdrop is that farmers, local communities, and relevant stakeholders must all be involved in the development, implementation, and evaluation of digital agriculture initiatives. This participatory approach will ensure that digital solutions are context-specific, farmer-centered, and aligned with the goals of agroecology. 

    Olufemi Isimikalu
    CapitalAcre Nig

    Laura Tabet Jul 17   

    Dear colleagues,

    This debate is unavoidable and 20 years too late. I think that it is hard to image how internet data could look like in an equitable future. While the dreams and hopes in the 90s were of providing free internet and knowledge to all – we now face a different reality. The business model of providing free services for good tech has put at risk our own data, and now data for food producer as more tech developers enter the agricultural field.

    Jaron Lanier concept of data dignity & MID (mediators of individual Data) was truly inspiring for me to imagine what would a future data economy could look like – because this affects us all not just our food sovereignty (this short video by New York Times is worth watching for a summary)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Np5ri-KktNs

    In the case of the data dignity movement (https://www.radicalxchange.org/concepts/data-dignity/)  and how it related to agriculture – in my personal opinion - it would not be a matter of training farmers and developing their skills or capacities,  as in most of the developing world their lands are too small and farm enterprise unprofitable. Supporting fragmented farmers to work in groups or at a landscape level – would allow for democratic decision making amongst farmers to choose the technology that best suits them. This is also necessary for implementing agroecological approaches so I see both will go hand in hand in the future.

    What I really appreciate as being a video production partner in Egypt for Access Agriculture – is one of the their motos – that we cannot teach videographers to have a passion for agriculture – but we can teach people with a passion for agriculture to produce videos, and therefore promote farmers knowledge and exchange beyond barriers of land and sea. With little funding to research and extension – it simply leaves too much of a power vacuum in the long term for advocacy on these issues and including perspective from rural and indigenous communities.

    After 10 years I can see the impact of my videos still happening and the network of young entrepreneurs we coach to use the mobile solar powered projectors and mobile app to guide farmers and instigate change in their villages. While we reply on funds to work – I do want to further develop a model where this can be sustained and farmers can choose the videos they want produced and translated. Ultimately digital solutions will be necessary for this mechanism to gain any traction – and we rely on our networks of partners and advocates to bring this conversation to policy makers.

    Laura Tabet
    Nawaya Egypt & Access Agriculture

    ONG AMSD Jul 17   

    Bonsoir chers membres du groupe. Je partage avec vous notre initiative au Mali,  Agroécologie webtv qui est une plateforme dédiée pour promouvoir la transition Agroécologique au Mali, mettant en lumière les acteurs du monde agricole. Une initiative de l'ONG AMSD pour la promotion des pratiques agroécologiques au Mali , une initiative financée par le projet EOA , Bio-vision Africa trust. le lien youtube de la plateforme :https://www.youtube.com/@agroecologiewebtv/about , www.ongamsd.org 

    Nous serions tres ravis de partager notre contribution au développement et la promotion de l'agroécologie et de l'agriculture biologique. 

    HAMIDOU   A DIAWARAPrésident de l'Association Malienne pour la Solidarité et le Développement  (ONG AMSD )

    Valeria Pesce Jul 18   

    @Gianluca Brunori: very interesting, identifying a source of incompatibility in the difference between diversity as a challenge and diversity as a value, or between diversity > homogeneity and diversity > complexity. 

    I have a question for you, to better define the scope of our discussion: in your post, you dive straight into precision agriculture, and I was wondering if the aspects you identified are just relevant for precision agriculture, or do you see risks of incompatibility along similar lines also in other "digital agriculture" applications in food processing, distribution and the “extended value chain” (like e-commerce and digital marketplaces, social media networking, public digital rural advisory services, government open databases, early warning services, fintech etc.)?

    I ask this question to you because it was prompted by your message, but of course it's for everybody.

    (Below, a nice diagram in a FAO paper illustrating where digitalization happens along the agrifood chain. Source: Gálvez, E. 2022. Scaling up inclusive innovation in agrifood chains in Asia and the Pacific. Bangkok, FAO.)

    Sarah-Louise Ruder Jul 19 

    Thank you all for getting the conversation started! I am joining from Canada, as an environmental social scientist researching the politics of digital technologies and data in agriculture.

    I want to engage with @Jo Rogers and @Olufemi Isimikalu's contributions. It sounds like for both of you the question of whether agroecology and digital agriculture can be compatible depends on the business models that motivate and structure the design of digital tools. I would agree.

    In my view, "digitalization" is not inherently supportive of or incompatible with agroecology. It depends on the context – who develops the tool, what ways of thinking it privileges, what is measured and how, the model's assumptions, potential applications, etc. Digitalization in agriculture is not a single or homogeneous phenomenon. Like @Gianluca Brunori suggested, I understand the design of digital tools for "precision agriculture" to intentionally target and support a specific type of farming (e.g., large-scale commodity crops, conventional agriculture). This direction of development makes sense given the global political economic context. Whereas digital tools that could support agroecology must be intentionally designed to reflect the decision-making, ways of knowing, practices, and values of agroecological food systems. – It sounds like many in this thread agree on the point of co-design and community-engagement at early stages and throughout the development of digital technologies for agroecology.

    I look forward to more discussion over the next week.

    With gratitude,

    Sarah-Louise Ruder (she/her)University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC | Unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) TerritoryPhD Candidate | Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES)Public Scholar | UBC Public Scholars InitiativeResearcher | UBC Food Sovereignty Research Group

    gianluca brunori Jul 19

    @valeria pesce: interesting question!

    I think that most digital agri-food application systems reflect business models or agricultural paradigms, and digital innovation for sustainability should depart from a deep critical understanding of embodied paradigms in technologies. Product-based traceability, for example, might encourage specialization rather than diversification. Crop-specific Decision Support Systems lock farmers in a given supply chain and strengthen vertical relations at the expense of horizontal relations. In traceability, we could identify 'brand-led', 'cooperative-led', and farmer-led models, depending on how the data are shared, who has access to them, and how their benefits and costs are distributed along the chain. 

    --Gianluca Brunori
    Professor, Food policyDipartimento di scienze agrarie, alimentari e agro-ambientali (DISAAA)Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisahttps://page.agr.unipi.it/

    Ben Addom Jul 19 

    For Valeri & Others, I have been following the exchanges on digitalisation and agroecology so far and wanted to complement some of the views that have been shared by sharing the framework that we have developed to help stakeholders understand how to better design digital agriculture initiatives. You can find the framework in the Introduction Chapter of this report - The State of Digital Agriculture in the Commonwealth.

    The problem is not with the digitali technologies & services, the problem is how we design and deploy the tools for any issue within the agricultural innovation system. Just as the FAO diagram below, our framework for digital agriculture is based on the agricultural development challenge. 

    --Benjamin K. Addom, PhDhttps://digitalisation4agriculture.wordpress.com/


    Hello Everyone, Here is my perspective on this topic.  First and foremost, the concept of digitization emerges from the drive to innovate within industries, "marrying" Agro-ecology in this case. Innovation will typically involve either repurposing existing technologies for new uses or creating novel business models to unlock hidden value. It may also entail introducing products or services to new locations or reaching previously underserved customer segments. 

    Agroecology advocates for sustainable farming practices that are deeply rooted in local knowledge and biodiversity conservation. On the other hand, digitalization entails the integration of technology and data-driven solutions across various sectors. While Agroecology places emphasis on traditional and context-specific methods, digitalization tends to favor standardized and data-centric approaches. Striking a harmonious balance between the two becomes the challenge, as it requires preserving and respecting local knowledge and ecological diversity while simultaneously harnessing the potential of digital tools to enhance efficiency and productivity. To overcome this challenge, a thoughtful integration process is necessary, which takes into account socio-cultural factors. It also involves developing digital solutions that align with agroecological principles, ensuring mutual benefits for farmers and the environment alike. 

    Thanks and Regards,  
    Majid Cofounder Jise.ng

    Gram Disha Trust Jul 19

    Towards this discussion correlations between Agroecology and Digitalisation are easy to envisage but difficult to deliver.  In an earlier exchange I had given a maxim to analyse this aspect - repeating here -  

    There is an important maxim I follow when trying to analyse importance of Digital Technologies for smallholders - 'If the technology decreases the operational (input) cost and complexity of the smallholder - consider it - else send it back to the drawing board

    Thus, any technology which increases the cost and complexity, then it is not a solution for smallholders, but is (or soon will be) a burden.  If the key constituent of Agroecological transformation in the Global South (or just Global??) is the smallholder, then any technology which smallholders can easily access - in cost and complexity - should work well.

    Take this and apply to any consideration of technology - GIS, Remote Sensing, Market Linkage, Drones, Carbon - and see if the technology is favoring research, capital economics, academia OR smallholder sustainability.   Take the example of precision agriculture - as that appears to be normative in this thread - for agroecology the use of Precision agriculture is presently and systemically - not being designed. The sensors, drum mixers and embedded software are calibrated with Chemicals for supply which are themselves imported to farmsteads. Here is an example from a rather large Apple Orchard in India - https://photos.app.goo.gl/v4oMXrx29GPHtCmm9. This system imports chemical inputs by Corporate Trade all the way from Norway to India, then calibrated in the technology for precision nutrient release to per apple tree. This is at a farmstead of a rather 'large' farm as per Indian standards and the overall installation for 10hectare of Apple Cultivation. The cost of such a system - which is otherwise a small installation for the technological domain/corporate sector - is about INR 30lacs+ (about USD 35000+). Even for a well educated farmer, this system is complex to handle, calibrate and even make cost-effective when calculated for Net-Profit!!

    Then again, can this precision agriculture system be used for Agroecological input supply (i.e. non chemical) - well not really, since the 'company' does not provide any calibration measure of the machine for Botanical inputs. No cost-benefit measures are provided by the company on how the farmer may save input cost with Botanicals instead of imported chemicals.  Now applying the maxim above - this technology does not reduce cost or complexity or cost of the smallholder - thus clearly this technology does not work well for smallholder Agroecology as well!!  Not unless there is a full solution in place - which requires tremendous research costs for companies - which 'prove' Agroecology and technology works when market linked for the farmer - either in terms of net savings on inputs and higher production - there is no solution at all!! Thus, there is scope for innovation in this domain, but not many solutions out there.   

    Ashish Gupta-jee --https://gramdisha.wordpress.com/


    Join the conversation or invite your colleagues and peers to join us using this link: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/join. (If you are a member of D4Ag already, just follow the conversation here: https://dgroups.io/g/d4ag/topic/100190535 (login required).


    Farm ManagementICT and Agricultural processessustainable agriculturedecision-makersextensionistsfamily farmerssmallholder farmerscommunal farmersgovernment(s)
  • Webinar : Data Governance In Agriculture: Including Farmers

    “Putting farmers at the center of a sustainable and equitable digital transformation of agriculture” is the core objective of the GFAR Collective Action on Inclusive Digital Transformation of Agriculture. The initial partners in the Action, facilitated by GFAR, are: the Forum of the Americas for Agricultural Research and Technology Development ( FORAGRO ), the Confederation of Family Producers Organizations of the Expanded Mercosur ( COPROFAM ), Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition ( GODAN ) and AgGateway . In the context of this Action, GODAN is hosting a webinar that addresses...
  • Join the Youth as drivers of Innovation: Interactive Event

    You are invited to participate in the interactive session with youth during the first International Symposium on agricultural innovation for family farmers. The event, organized in collaboration with Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), is bringing together youth representatives and innovators around the world – both online and in-person – to interact with experts, present the key drivers behind their innovations, share their ideas and contribute their inputs to the outcomes of the symposium. Among the participants are four YPARD members: Nikki Pilania and Alpha Sennon (...
  • FAO and Pennsylvania State University launch innovative app to fight fast-spreading pest

    News Release as published on FAO Website 25 June 2018, Rome - The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and Pennsylvania State University joined forces to develop and launch an innovative, talking app - Nuru - to help African farmers recognize Fall Armyworm, a new and fast-spreading crop pest in sub-Saharan Africa, so that they can take immediate steps to destroy it and curb its spread. Fall Armyworm first appeared in Africa in 2016, in West Africa, and then rapidly spread across all countries in sub-Saharan Africa in 2017, infecting millions of hectares of maize, and threatening...
  • Join the E-Consultation on ethical, legal and policy aspects of open data affecting farmers from 4 to 8 June, 2018 on e-Agriculture

    GODAN, Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft (KTBL) will hold an e-consultation on ethical, legal and policy aspects of open data affecting smallholder farmers from 4 to 8 June 2018. To participate click here Data-driven agriculture is expected to increase agricultural production and productivity. It can help farmers adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change. It can also bring about more economic and efficient use of natural resources,...
  • Day 2: Desired scenarios for a future where data-driven agriculture is successfully adopted by smallholder farmers

    Data-driven agriculture is expected to increase agricultural production and productivity, help them adapt to/ or mitigate the effects of climate change, bring about more economic and efficient use of natural resources, reduce risk and improve resilience in farming, and make agri-food market chains much more efficient. This is in general the positive scenario envisioned for data-driven agriculture.

    More precisely, could you describe specific desired scenarios for a future where data-driven agriculture is adopted by smallholder farmers? What would success look like in practical terms?

    Scénarios souhaités pour un avenir où l'agriculture axée sur les données est adoptée avec succès par les petits agriculteurs.  

    L'agriculture axée sur les données devrait augmenter la production et la productivité agricoles, les aider à s'adapter aux effets du changement climatique ou à atténuer leurs contributions aux effets du changement climatique, favoriser une utilisation plus efficace et économique des ressources naturelles, réduire les risques et améliorer la résilience de l’agriculture et rendre plus efficace les chaînes de valeur agroalimentaire beaucoup. C'est en général le scénario positif envisagé pour l'agriculture axée sur les données.   

    De façon très précise, pourriez-vous décrire des scénarios spécifiques envisagés pour un avenir où l'agriculture axée sur les données est adoptée par les petits agriculteurs? À quoi ressemblerait ce succès en termes pratiques?

    Cuáles son los escenarios deseados en el futuro, donde la agricultura basada en los datos sea adoptada de manera exitosa por los pequeños agricultores?          

    La agricultura basada en datos se espera aumente la producción y productividad agrícolas, ayude a adaptarse y mitigar los efectos del cambio climático, resulte en un uso más eficiente y económico de los recursos naturales, reduzca el riesgo y mejore la resistencia de la agricultura, y genere cadenas agroalimentaria mucho más eficientes.   Esto, en general, es el escenario deseado del futuro de la agricultura basada en los datos. 

    Podría Usted describir los futuros escenarios deseados donde la agricultural basada en los datos es adoptada por pequeños agricultores?   Cómo sería un escenario exitoso en términos prácticos?                 


  • Day 3: Long-term ethical, legal and policy changes needed to move from the current scenario to the desired scenarios

    What are the long-term ethical, legal and policy changes that need to happen to move from the current scenario towards the desired scenarios?


    • Ethical: what are the ethical questions we should make to contribute to increase food and nutrition security and better livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable farmers around the world by harnessing their access to and use of agricultural data? How should our mindset change in the long term about data rights? Should data rights be recognized as human rights? Should we still consider receiving a service in exchange for surrendering data an ethically acceptable business model?
    • Legal: what do you think are the best legal approaches to achieve the desired scenarios? How to recognize and implement farmers’ intellectual property rights over their data and traditional knowledge? How should the licensing scenario change?
    • Policy: what strategies and priority areas of intervention would you recommend at the policy level? Do you think there should be more governance and by whom? Do you think international agreements could help?

    Changements éthiques, juridiques et politiques nécessaires à long terme pour passer du scénario actuel aux scénarios souhaités.   

    Quels sont les changements éthiques, juridiques et politiques à long terme qui doivent être apportés pour passer du scénario actuel aux scénarios souhaités?  


    • Éthique: quelles sont les questions éthiques que nous devrions poser pour contribuer à accroître la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle et améliorer les moyens de subsistance des agriculteurs les plus pauvres et les plus vulnérables du monde en exploitant l’accès et l’utilisation des données agricoles? Comment notre état d'esprit devrait-il changer à long terme en ce qui concerne les droits relatifs aux données? Les droits sur les données devraient-ils être reconnus en tant que droits de l'homme? Devrions-nous toujours envisager de recevoir un service en échange de la remise de données, un modèle d'entreprise éthiquement acceptable?    
    • Juridique: quelles sont selon vous les meilleures approches juridiques pour réaliser les scénarios souhaités? Comment reconnaître et mettre en œuvre les droits de propriété intellectuelle des agriculteurs sur leurs données et leurs savoirs traditionnels? Comment le scénario de licence devrait-il changer?  
    • Politique: quelles stratégies et domaines prioritaires d'intervention recommanderiez-vous au niveau des politiques? Pensez-vous qu'il devrait y avoir plus de gouvernance et par qui? Pensez-vous que les accords internationaux pourraient aider?    

    Cuáles son los cambios que se requieren a largo plazo a nivel ético, legal y político para transformar el escenario actual en los escenarios deseados?


    • Éticos Cuáles son las preguntas éticas que debemos hacernos para contribuir a aumentar la seguridad alimentaria y nutricional y mejorar las condiciones de vida de los agricultores más pobres y vulnerable, a través de mejorar su acceso y uso de datos agrícolas? Cómo debería cambiar nuestra percepción a largo plazo sobre los derechos sobre los datos? Deberían reconocerse los derechos sobre los datos como derechos humanos? Deberíamos considerar el recibir un servicio a cambio de la entrega de datos como un modelo económico ético aceptable? 
    • Legal: Cuáles piensa Usted que son las mejores aproximaciones legales para alcanzar los escenarios deseados? Cómo reconocer e implementar los derechos de propiedad intelectual de los agricultores sobre sus datos y conocimiento tradicional? Cómo debería cambiar el escenario actual de las licencias? 
    • Político: Qué estrategias y áreas prioritarias de intervención recomendaría a nivel político? Cree Usted que debería haber mayor gobernanza y por quién? Cree Usted que acuerdos internacionales puedan ayudar?  


  • Day 4: Actions to be taken in 2018-2021 to ensure smallholder farmers benefit from agricultural data in the future

    Moving to the present and near future: what actions should be taken in 2018-2021 to ensure smallholder farmers benefit from agricultural data? Which actors would you expect to take specific roles?

    Example: if one of the policy changes identified is more institutional collaboration to improve the international, national and local governance of farmers’ data rights, which are the best ways and immediate steps to foster this now? Which actors should take these steps?

    Actions à entreprendre en 2018-2021 pour assurer que les petits agriculteurs bénéficient des données agricoles à l'avenir.  

    Passons au présent et au futur proche: quelles actions devraient être entreprises en 2018-2021 pour s'assurer que les petits agriculteurs bénéficient des données agricoles? Quels acteurs vous attendez-vous à jouer des rôles spécifiques? 
    Exemple: si l'un des changements de politique identifiés est une collaboration plus institutionnelle pour améliorer la gouvernance internationale, nationale et locale des droits des données des agriculteurs, quels sont les meilleurs moyens et les mesures immédiates pour encourager cela? Quels acteurs devraient prendre ces mesures?  

    Cuáles son las acciones que deben adoptarse del 2018 al 2021 para asegurar que los pequeños agricultores se beneficien de los datos agrícolas en el futuro?

    Moviéndonos al presente y futuro cercano: Qué acciones deberían adoptarse en 2018-2021 para asegurar que los pequeños agricultores se beneficien de los datos agrícolas? Qué actores esperaría Usted asumirían roles específicos? 
    Ejemplo: si uno de los cambios políticos identificados es más sobre colaboración institucional para mejorar la gobernanza internacional, nacional y local de los agricultores sobre sus derechos sobre los datos, cuáles son las mejores formas y pasos inmediatos para fomentar esto? Qué actores deberían seguir estos pasos?