Flexible Voluntary Contribution (FVC)

Global Network of Digital Agriculture Innovation Hubs launched in pilot countries


The Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM) recently funded a new Subprogramme on Global Network of Digital Agriculture Innovation Hubs. The Subprogramme aims to accelerate the development of digital innovation in the agri-food sector. This network of in-country innovation hubs, established by FAO and country institutions, supports farmers and value chain actors. The Subprogramme focuses especially on youth and women, and seeks to increase their skills and competitiveness.

The FMM Subprogramme on Global Network of Digital Agriculture Innovation Hubs (GNDAH) has started the implementation in Dominica, Grenada, Ethiopia, and Morocco. Considering national priorities on digital innovation, FAO’s country teams are scoping the state of each country’s digital development and capacity of partners, such as government institutions, academia, NGOs, and the private sector. This Subprogramme seeks to support countries in designing a national digital agriculture model that meets local needs in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries priorities and fostering public-private partnerships.

While the countries are different in size, culture, economy, and priorities, there are many synergies and lessons learnt that can be exchanged across countries and regions.

Ethiopia, with 110 million people, has around 40% of its population under the age of 15. The country has formulated a long-term strategy that includes the transformation of the agricultural sector. Since 70% of the population works in agriculture, this transformation will impact on the lives of many in the population.

Because 80% of the population in Ethiopia lives in rural areas, capacity building, partnerships, and market information dissemination are crucial elements in a digital transformation of the country. The government of Ethiopia considers accelerate digital transformation as a priority.

Morocco developed a Green-Generation 2020-2030 Strategy to address economic, social, and environmental issues in the agri-food sector. Through digital transformation the Moroccan government aims to improve the economic inclusion of young people in rural areas and enhance export markets. The country has supported digitalization projects that are in line with the priorities of this strategy. The new FMM Subprogramme will contribute to the adoption of innovative solutions and the reduction of the digital divide, which will enable the country to create additional jobs.

Dominica and Grenada are two small island countries that are also involved in the new FMM Subprogramme. Grenada, with a population of 107 825 people, has already an extensive penetration of broadband and mobile technologies. This helps in the transformation to a Digital Agriculture Innovation Hub. In addition, in 2019 the government of Grenada implemented a National Policy on ICT and Digital Legislation, which also contributes to the acceleration of digital innovations in the agriculture sector.

Dominica, with a population of less than 72 000 people, has a high penetration of mobile phones and mobile broadband. Although this helps to enable progress on digital innovations, the country needs to increase its capacity building and its investment in digital innovations. All of the agricultural data in Dominica is managed under a national programme, the National Agriculture Information Management System (NAIMS ), which helps to facilitate digitalization.

Although the two latter countries share some of the same needs, each has its own challenges. The Global Network Hub Subprogramme will support both countries to create synergies and partnerships with governments, development organizations, research institutes, farmer organizations as well as women and youth organizations to develop digital strategies and address challenges in digital literacy and gender mainstreaming in the process of the digital transformation of agri-food systems in the Caribbean.

The Global Network Hub Subprogramme, which will run until 2023, is off to a good start and these four countries may be joined by others in the future. All the target countries mentioned their desire to link their work with existing FAO projects such as the Hand in Hand initiative, the 1 000 Digital Villages initiative, and others.

With today’s challenges, these four pilot countries will be able to share knowledge, lessons learnt, and novel approaches within a global context. Input from local and international organizations should help in diminishing the digital divide and foster innovative solutions thanks to the support received from FMM Resource Partners.

1. No poverty, 2. Zero hunger, 5. Gender equality, 17. Partnership for the goals

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