Past March, EBN Members (VVA Brussels, Wageningen UR, South East BIC and Rev’Agro Beauvais) successfully presented a study on digitalisation on the agrifood sector in front of the European Parliament representatives. The research shows that digital technologies have a great potential to help farmers and food chain actors deal with their main challenges, but some applications will have a lot more impact than others.
According to VVA and WUR a new “farm-tech revolution” is taking place that will cause structural changes comparable with what happened in the 1950s when tractors started to be used more widely and pesticides were introduced. New emerging technologies are becoming available and they will boost effectiveness and reduce risks.
The new technologies can and will modernise the agriculture sector by fostering business innovation and will help to create new business opportunities in areas such as bio-based industries and sustainable ecosystems. However, the magnitude of this transformation and associated impacts on sectors, value chains and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), are highly variable and will differ, depending on the technology focus.
As Monica Pesce, VVA, said during the presentation in the parliament “Not all farmers are willing to adopt digitalisation immediately: the most innovative ones take it up in the beginning, and all others follow once the innovation is considered reliable and they have information about the possible impact”.
In order to achieve valuable results, the study concludes that advancements of key technologies are based on influential disruptive drivers and accelerators. Where disruptive drivers refer to challenges that motivate farmers to search for technologies to solve them, accelerators refer to positive pushing factors for adaptation with new technologies in the agri-food sector.
Among the challenges for farmers the study mentions:
- Changing environmental and climate conditions.
- Uncertain future of demand due to urbanisation.
- Growing population and societal changes.
- Needs for optimising the production due to high cost.
Whereas in the other side, on the accelerators part, the study hightlights:
- The consumers’ changing preferences and their request for access to more information concerning food products.
- The presence of well-developed infrastructure (broadband networks) and support by legislation that encourage use and uptake of new technologies.
- Data availability and open access to information to facilitate the development of new products, services and business models across the entire value chain.
- Enough investments in Research and Development to support technology advancements in the agricultural sector in Europe.
Based on this study, EBN and its members are organising an event in Avenue de Tervuren 168 on 7 May 2019: Impact of digitalisation on agrifood sector in Europe. Durign the event participants will investigates among others the following research questions:
- What are the key technology advancements in the farm-tech revolution to date?
- For each disruptive technology, what are the impacts on the evolution of agri-food chain and the vertical integration of the value chain?
- What do these disruptive technology developments imply for the modernisation of CAP?
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