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Case study

Leveraging automation and digitalization for precision agriculture: Evidence from the case studies. Background paper for The State of Food and Agriculture 2022

Digital and automation solutions for precision agriculture can improve efficiency, productivity, product quality and sustainability. Nevertheless, barriers to adoption of such solutions – including their cost, lack of knowledge and skills, and the absence of an enabling environment and infrastructure – can prevent producers from realizing these benefits.

Building on findings from 22 case studies worldwide, this study finds that national data policies and infrastructure are key enablers of adoption, as is investment in connectivity (e.g. internet) and electricity in rural areas. Further research and information on the economic, environmental and social impacts of the solutions are also needed to provide evidence on their benefits. So too is investment in human capacity development, particularly digital literacy. To ensure an inclusive process, solutions must be adapted across agricultural production systems, regions and farm types. Partnerships and networks for exchanging information and promoting collaboration will key. Finally, awareness raising and communication are important since consumers can be skeptical about food being produced by new technologies.

In summary, by focusing on a variety of solutions, this study provides a landscape analysis of digital and automation solutions and offers guidance to accelerate adoption for more inclusive, sustainable and resilient agrifood systems.

This study was developed as a background document for the FAO report The State of Food and Agriculture 2022 – Leveraging automation in agriculture for transforming agrifood systems.