Ministers promote digitalization of agriculture for efficient and sustainable food production

The agriculture ministers of 74 countries attended the 11th Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference on the occasion of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) on 19 January 2019 to discuss how digitalization can strengthen the agricultural sector’s economic viability, sustainability, resource conservation, resilience and consumer orientation.

The GFFA conference, organized by the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, focuses on important questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry. This year, with the theme “Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming”, the conference highlighted opportunities offered by innovations and technologies in the digital age to ensure food security.

The 74 ministers assembled at GFFA 2019 jointly adopted resolutions with the aim of shaping and promoting the digitalization of agriculture, with commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the goal of zero hunger, and also to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

In a communiqué issued by the ministers, they state that they intend to take action to: identify and use the potential of digitalization; establish, expand and protect the access of farmers to digital technologies; improve data use, ensuring data security and data sovereignty; and manage structural changes in agriculture and rural areas.

Supporting animal health and welfare

The ministers say they plan to use digital solutions to strengthen animal health and animal welfare and foster prudent and responsible use of antimicrobial agents in animal husbandry. They expressed their support to the on-going renovation of the World Animal Health Information System, OIE-WAHIS, acknowledging its key contribution to a more sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock production. They also entrusted the OIE to pursue the implementation of global digital structures promoting an enhanced exchange of information, thereby contributing to strengthening the cross-border fight against animal diseases.

In future steps, the ministers called for establishing an independent, international Digital Council for Food and Agriculture under the auspices of the United Nations that will advise governments and other relevant actors, drive the exchange of ideas and experiences, and that will consequently help everyone harness the opportunities presented by digitalization. This will be done in consultation with stakeholders, which will include the OIE as leader on animal health and welfare issues.

Read the full communiqué:
Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming

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