Action Line C7 E-Agriculture: Community of Practices and Digital Integrated Platforms - Knowledge Sharing in Food and Agriculture

Food and Agriculture Organization / International Telecommunication Union

Session 185

16:30–18:15, Monday, 8 April 2019 Room K2, ITU Montbrillant Action Line Facilitators Meeting

Knowledge Sharing in Food and Agriculture

By 2050, world population is projected to rise to around 10 billion and agriculture in 2050 will need to produce almost 50 percent more food, feed and biofuel than it did in 2012; however, yield increases are slowing, despite overall improvements in agricultural efficiency. Estimated yield gaps, expressed as a percentage of potential yields, exceed 50 percent in most low-income countries. 821 million people go hungry today and malnutrition affects 1 in 3 people and all nations. Rapid urbanization, together with income growth in low- and middle-income countries, is accelerating the dietary transition towards higher consumption of meat, fruits and vegetables, relative to that of cereals, requiring commensurate shifts in output and adding pressure on natural resources. 

Digital Innovation as the central driving force to transform food systems and help the world to achieve the SDGs. Innovation in agriculture, as a way to achieve and leverage concrete results, cuts across all dimensions of the production cycle along the entire value chain – from crop, forestry, fishery or livestock production to the management of inputs and resources, to organization and market access. Digital Innovation is about social, economic, institutional/organizational and policy processes, and having an impact on the lives of family farmers. A shift from interventions focusing on single components of agricultural innovation towards a systemic approach, including knowledge sharing and networking. 

In 2007, in collaboration with 13 founding partners, FAO launched the e-Agriculture Community of Practice, where people from all over the world exchange information, ideas, and resources related to the use of ICT for sustainable agriculture and rural development. With over 14,000 members from 170 countries and territories, the e-Agriculture Community includes individual stakeholders such as information and communication specialists, researchers, farmers, students, policy makers, business people, development practitioners, and others. The e-Agriculture members have a common interest: improving policies and processes around the use of ICT in support of agriculture and rural development, in order to have a positive impact on rural livelihoods. Like this, the organization maintains several other communities and hubs exchanging information and knowledge, reaching various targeted audiences. The most known are Farmer Field Schools, Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition, Family Farming Knowledge Platform, and the Pastoralist Knowledge Hub. 

At the same time, the World is promoting digital transformation through platforms integration. This work involves unified solutions based on four main components: 

1.       Business model: able to “sell” and deliver products or services (in a broad interpretation in terms of governments and policies) as well as allow users to manage micro-sites and community of practice channels and share and exchange information, providing and receiving feedback on issues of interest.  

2.       Platform as a service: the number of products and services offered in the same platform and the complementary relation/links between each one of them. 

3.       Technological features: user-friendly IT systems, useful content/information with APIs and portals, a data collection tool (not only internet-based) and predictive data analytics (including Artificial Intelligence), all adhering to mobile-first and Human-Centered Design (HCD) approaches. 

4.       Analytics: maximize the user experience through social engagement by collecting and measuring personal data, preferences and behaviour of users using available algorithms, such as social networks and news. 

This session, co-hosted by FAO and ITU, proposes to present experiences that are transforming food and agriculture communities of practices into digital platforms able to brings farmers, suppliers, governments, private partners, civil society and the Organization together based on a human centered design approach. Communities of Practice are important because enable practitioners to exchange knowledge and skills with people across the entire community. This open membership offers access to a wide range of expertise to help with technical challenges, fuel continuous improvement and allows more meaningful contributions to the larger goals of the community. The result is that these communities benefit farmers and extension workers from rapid problem-solving, improved quality, cooperation across multiple domains, and increased retention of top talent. 

The platforms will facilitate the exchange of data, information and knowledge across the value chain, facilitating collaboration and capacity building within and across community of practices through engagement, insights on best practices and innovative cases, and connecting practitioners in different countries and regions. Designing a platform based on an integrated and participatory approach will increase the availability, exchange, and reach of cross cutting information and knowledge, empowering authorities and extension workers to provide better services to smallholder and family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers. Also, the platforms serve as a forum to discover and share innovative solutions to common challenges faced by geographically distributed practitioners. Increased dialogue, debate, and collaboration on digital innovation and case studies will help strengthen and amplify successes. 

Together, integrated platforms and communities of practices can create new interactive frameworks and features that will facilitate the exchange among stakeholders and its accessibility. Furthermore, new digital tools are offered through the platform, such as mobile applications, CRM modules, social engagement features, video streaming, and data catalogue. 


·         Mr. Thembani Mapela,       

·         Mr. Cezar Santos Alvarez, FAO, Italy

·         Ms. Giulia Silenzi, Deloitte 

Session's link to WSIS Action Lines

  • C7. ICT Applications: E-agriculture logo C7. ICT Applications: E-agriculture

The guidelines of the C7 line aim to: ensure the systematic dissemination of information using ICTs on agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and food, in order to provide ready access to comprehensive, up-to-date and detailed knowledge and information, particularly in rural areas; and public-private partnerships should seek to maximize the use of ICTs as an instrument to improve production (quantity and quality). 

The session will present cases which the use of ICTs and innovative solutions for agriculture, livestock, water and others sectors are playing a decisive role in terms of access to information, knowledgement, improving productivity and ensuring new incomes as well as social inclusion for the people in rural areas. 

Session's link to Sustainable Development Process

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere logo Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture logo Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls logo Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries logo Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns logo Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts logo Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources logo Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
  • Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss logo Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss

From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lies at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. Over the coming years, the FAO will focus its efforts in assisting all countries and relevant actors in implementing and monitoring the SDGs. FAO’s Strategic Framework draws five main strategic objectives to support the SDG implementation and help farmers, fishers, collectors, pastoralists, women, youth and traditional communities to be more productive, sustainable and resilient. Today, nearly 800 million people are extremely poor and chronically undernourished, while another 1.9 billion are overweight, of which 600 million are obese. In rural areas, the reality is most dramatic, considering that 80% of the world’s hungry and poor live there. FAO believes that food security can be the common thread that links the different challenges the world faces in building a sustainable future. 

Applying innovative ways to use ICTs in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture (including farming, fisheries, livestock, forestry, etc.), can boost agricultural and rural development. Improving access to valuable information help agricultural stakeholders to make informed decisions and use the resources available in the most productive and sustainable manner. In a sector that is becoming increasingly knowledge-intensive, having access to the timely information, in the right format, and through the right channels makes a crucial difference in the livelihoods of people involved in agriculture and related fields. 

Debate innovative solutions, find new approaches and exchange experiences it’s a moment to make good connections to change the reality of the rural communities, achieving the SDGs because bridging the digital divide and information gaps, farmers can better decide their crop selection and choice of markets. This session will discuss how ICTs can improve rural livelihoods and increase income through lower input cost and improved productivity. There is a huge opportunity to scale up these innovative digital services (provided by ICTs) and drastically increase their impact by bringing them closer to more farmers. 



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