Knowledge, innovation and digitalization can transform agriculture in Uzbekistan
Digital innovation and technology can transform agrifood systems into environmentally and economically sustainable systems that will promote better production and enhance more equitable rural livelihoods with increased opportunities for women, youth, and vulnerable groups. The challenge is how to move ahead with a digitalization programme that is effective and efficient, and which harnesses the existing wealth of knowledge held by farmers, agribusiness entrepreneurs, researchers, and extension service agents.
To consider that question, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Uzbekistan held a workshop on 1 March in Tashkent on the topic of “Transforming Uzbekistan’s agriculture through knowledge, innovation and digitalization.” National and international stakeholders assessed the present status of innovation and digitalization of agriculture in Uzbekistan and shared experiences. The workshop officially launched the project “Preparing the grounds for digital transformation of agriculture” implemented by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic Uzbekistan. The project is designed to address the challenges towards innovation and digital transformation of the entire agri-food sector.
The project objectives are harmonized with the Presidential Decrees on “Digital Uzbekistan-2030” and measures for its effective implementation” and “On further improvement of knowledge system and innovation and the provision of modern services in agriculture.”
Speakers highlighted their experiences, the challenges faced, and opportunities for collaboration and synergies. Sophie Treinen, FAO Communication for Development Officer, remarked that “leaving no one behind is our moto and this is why we should engage in dialogue not only with various institutions, but also communities, youth, women and elders at field level. We should also ensure intergenerational knowledge exchange.”
FAO facilitates the creation and scaling up of innovations, whether digital or not, that impact agri-food systems. FAO helps design and enable new services, tools, and approaches to empower rural households and motivate entrepreneurship. It was noted that coordination and collaboration amongst both government institutions and international development partners needs to be strengthened. During the workshop participants identified members of the two multi-actors working groups, one on innovation and another one on digitalization. The workshop organized working groups to support the development of agri-food research, education and advisory services and emphasized the importance of an agrifood systems digitalization strategy for Uzbekistan.
Inclusive policy and technology uptake can help meet the needs of women, youth, and marginalized groups, which is central to FAO's mandate. The theme of the upcoming International Women’s Day, on 8 March “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” highlights the importance of accelerating agricultural digitalization for the benefit of all, so no one is left behind.