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Status of Digital Agriculture in 18 countries of Europe and Central Asia










​ITU and FAO. 2020. Status of Digital Agriculture in 18 countries of Europe and Central Asia. Geneva, Switzerland.



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    The present report is the outcome of the joint call on good practices on Digital Excellence in Agriculture, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Office for Europe and Office for CIS and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Office for Europe and Central Asia. The document presents a summary version of the 171 eligible submissions of good practices and innovative solutions advancing the digital transformation of agriculture in Europe and Central Asia. This call complements the joint FAO-ITU review on the Status of Digital Agriculture in 18 countries of Europe and Central Asia (ITU-FAO, 2020)1 and provides evidence on how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play an emerging role in the agriculture landscapes of the regions, acting as an engine for agricultural development. However, the adoption of digital technologies in agriculture differs from country to country, and from region to region. The review in the 18 countries highlighted that smallholder farmers have yet to experience the widespread benefits of this digital transformation, and they are lagging behind when it comes to the adoption of digital agriculture solutions and innovations due to lack of trust in the potential of ICTs, limited digital skills, connectivity issues and restricted availability of ICT-based solutions to utilize and scale up. Realizing the full potential of digital agriculture transformation requires identifying, sharing and implementing best practices and proven solutions across countries, involving all actors in participatory processes.
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    This report is the outcome of the Digital Excellence in Agriculture: FAO-ITU regional contest on good practices advancing digital agriculture in Europe and Central Asia, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Office for Europe and Central Asia and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Offices for Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Launched in November 2020, the contest sought to identify, showcase and celebrate good practices and innovative solutions that have proven successful in advancing the digital transformation of agriculture in the regions. With nearly 200 applicants from 36 countries in the regions, the initiative revealed a diverse, dynamic and future-thinking ecosystem of innovators and problem-solvers. This report summarizes the main trends in digital services and products, the most important technologies used, as well as the difficulties and challenges that arise in the development of digital agricultural applications. Presenting the 29 finalists, the report shares the key challenges applicants are addressing, the digital technologies they are using to succeed, their journeys and their plans for the near future based on the information provided. The report also analyses how the technology infrastructure, the regulatory and business environment, the availability of human capital, and the COVID-19 pandemic represented both challenges and opportunities for digital agriculture practitioners. It provides useful information for developers and service providers already active in this field or planning to enter it, as well as guidance for decision-makers on possible points of intervention.
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    Agriculture in the European Union (EU) is undergoing a complex process of digitalization. According to FAO and ITU, digital agriculture refers to the enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved information and communication processes (adapted from Sylvester, 2016). More specifically, it involves the conceptualization, design, development, evaluation and application of innovative ways to use ICT in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture. Provisions of standards, norms, methodologies, and tools as well as development of individual and institutional capacities, and policy support are all key components. Understanding the latest developments and regulations related to digital agriculture in the European Union is becoming more challenging due to the continuous evolution and deployment of digital technologies and the growing interrelationship between digitalization and agriculture across the whole EU Acquis. For the countries and territories whose negotiations ahead of accession to the European Union are continuing, this represents an additional undertaking, as they are being called on to meet these requirements, or indeed, go beyond them. Addressing this issue, this compendium summarizes the EU requirements related to two specific areas of digital agriculture: 1) the establishment of digital information systems to support CAP management, monitoring and evaluation by government authorities, from the design phase to the delivery, auditing, monitoring and evaluation of the systems; and 2) public strategies and interventions supporting the digitalization of agriculture, including CAP support for the provision of farm advisory services and investments, and such cooperation projects as smart villages. The ITU Office for Europe and the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia co-authored this document to serve primarily as a compendium supporting the entry of EU pre-accession countries1 to the EU single market and the alignment of their agricultural policies with the emerging EU legislation related to digital agriculture, and more specifically, the CAP and its delivery.

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