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The power of digital technologies for the future of agriculture and food security -Agenda 2030

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The future of agriculture hinges on the adoption of technologies such as the Internet of Things (loT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, noted Vicente Muñoz, Chief Internet of Things Officer, Telefónica.

This comment was made during the presentation on the power of digital technologies to the future of agriculture and food security which was held in FAO HQ in Rome, after FAO and Spain’s Telefonica signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

The two parties have agreed to work together to leverage the use of cutting-edge digital technology for agricultural development and in fighting hunger.

©FAO, 2018 FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, and Telefonica’s Global Director of Public Affairs Strategy, Trinidad Jiménez

In his remarks, FAO’s director general José Graziano da Silva said, “This partnership will help us face one of the greatest current challenges in the fight against hunger, poverty and the effects of climate change in agriculture. Access to reliable information, including that related to changing weather patterns, is essential to empower farmers, especially those who live in developing countries”.

He also stressed the role and potential of technology to reach rural communities and their ability for example to deliver weather information.

Telefónica team led by Trinidad Jiménez noted that the company seeks also to use technology to ensure human development including ending hunger and rural poverty.

Telefónica sees potential in mobile telephony in reaching a wider communities otherwise unreachable and also it’s potential to increase yields, efficient use of water resources and provision of information.

The signing of the MoU is part of FAO in working with private sector in partnership to achieve the Agenda 2030 commitment and also to end hunger. FAO Strategy in partnership with the private sector can be read here.

IoT: The Seed of a new harvest

Vicente’s presentation alluded above focused on the Internet of Things, as a seed for the new harvest. The presentation focused on the 4 step data approach -

  • Data Collection
  • Connectivity
  • Processing
  • Analysis

When applied to farming practices, immediate results in water use has already been recorded.

The Agreement

As published on FAO website the agreement, which has an initial duration of three years, includes three main areas (text below as used in that article)

  • Application of the Internet of Things - the digital interconnection of everyday objects to the Internet - to the agricultural sector to optimize processes and make more efficient use of natural resources.
  • Use of Big Data - management and analysis of a huge and varied amount of data - on weather patterns to establish early warning systems. Specifically, it will help analyse how climate change affects population movements in the areas of the Central American Dry Corridor and Colombia most affected by the phenomena of El Niño and La Niña.
  • Digital education and capacity building: part of FAO’s educational content will be incorporated into  Telefónica’s open training platforms. An example: users will be able to learn about food systems, nutrition and agricultural development in Miríadax, the first Ibero-American platform for Massive Open Online Courses (better known as MOOCs).

For more information on the agreement here