Digitalisation of EU agriculture: driving technology versus being driven by it

Digitalisation is a hot topic on the EU agenda. In agriculture, the expectations for digital technologies are high, and so are the uncertainties about the way they will be deployed. At the high-level event at the European Parliament organized by the IoF2020 and SmartAgriHubs projects, Eduardo Cuoco, IFOAM EU’s Director, emphasized the importance of using technology for solving specific agricultural challenges as opposed to being driven by the technological developments. He noted that digital technology has a big potential for organic farming. Potential benefits concerns efficiency, empowering farmers to have an in-depth knowledge of the specific conditions of their farms like the soil and animal health. Yet digitalisation should not be an excuse to industrialize agri-food systems. Digitalising the agri-food system requires a thorough evaluation of the impact of the technologies – from the socio-economic perspective to its sustainability and its contribution to the transformation of our food systems. 

Furthermore, policymakers should also ensure an adequate support for farmers. The transition towards more sustainable food system should be supported by creating advisory services that are independent from input and digital technology providers. The uptake of digital technologies, while an important goal stressed by many of the speakers in the panel, should not leave anyone behind.

IoF2020 has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 731884. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.

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