Digital agriculture in the Mediterranean and its impact on territories
Following the publication of its last Watch Letter dedicated to “rural innovation and digital revolution in agriculture”, the CIHEAM, in partnership with Agreenium and INRA, organised on 28th February 2017, at the International Agriculture Show, a panel discussion in order to draw a regional panorama of current innovations in rural areas and of the role of ICT in agriculture.
Using the various contributions to the work, this event enabled to define the modalities of “digital agriculture”, between precision farming, the development of decision-making tools, robotics, etc.
In line with IPEMED’s reflections on the digital sector, several elements caught our attention:
- Cosimo LACIRIGNOLA, Secretary General of CIHEAM, reminded the necessity to cautiously implement innovative technical solutions in the Mediterranean, in order to prevent the development of a “two-tier agriculture”. Indeed, digital solutions could widen the gap between farmers, as the experts gathered by IPEMED pointed out on 6th February. The digital revolution and its impact on agricultural systems and practices must be carried out, in the North and in the South alike, following an inclusive approach, in an ecosystem combining farmers, researchers, public authorities, etc.
- Although it is not in itself a solution to the challenges facing the countries in the region, the digital sector could be an asset if it can modernise the “agricultural world” and attract young people towards jobs people no longer want to do, reduce agricultural work hardness, prevent waste, etc.
- However, as the needs in digital skills are growing and new professions are emerging, the participants to this debate reminded that it is necessary to reshape the initial and professional training, and to improve basic digital education. According to Christian GERMAIN, Professor at Bordeaux Sciences Agro, “digital training and training through digital means” will boost cooperation in the Mediterranean.
- Finally, Pascal BERGERET, Director of CIHEAM-IAMM, insisted on the role of ICT in the development of territories. For him, implementing collaborative platforms could “favour social innovation and highlight local resources”.
This last point, which implies that the future of Mediterranean agriculture lies in the collaborative economy, reinforces the relevance of the project of “collaborative platform for the agri-business transition in the Mediterranean” carried by IPEMED, in partnership with RESOLIS, the ACM Foundation, ARF and Montpellier SupAgro/Unesco Chair on World Food Systems.
Photo: taken by the author at the Paris International Agriculture Show.