The 9th Conference of the Asian Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture will be held this year in Australia, September 29 through October 2, and will investigate how Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) shape “agricultural economics and environmental sustainability.” Organizations lending their support to the conference include the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Edith Cowan University, and CSBP.
The Global Forum for Agriculture Research (GFAR), a long time champion for the use of ICTs in agriculture and rural development, will partner with FAO to deliver a one-day forum entitled “Forward Thinking for ICT use in Asian Agri-food Chains.”
In preparation for the Forum at AFITA 2014, CIARD with GFAR and FAO organized an E-Discussion on the same topic from 13 August to 8 September 2014. The discussion had 96 participants from 32 countries across the world. There were more than 80 individual contributions in discussing the topic. The E-Discussion summary and the rearranged and organized contributions are available on the GFAR website.
ICTs, which now include “Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Remote Sensing (RS) such as through drones, Sensor Technologies, Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN), have been applied to resources management in agriculture, farming and production systems management, marketing, and connecting rural farmers to others in order “to access critical information to make timely decisions.”
According to GFAR and the FAO, emerging use of technologies such as Big Data, the Internet of Things with Wearable computers “have the potential to make agri-food chains more productive, sustainable, and resilient, reduce wastage, lower costs and improve the quality, safety of commodities in complex agri-food value chains.” They will impact significantly in shaping future agri-food systems. These agri-food systems will also significantly influence the development and innovation of ICTs used in agriculture and farming and managing these systems.
However, issues like availability, access and ability to use technology effectively especially by resource poor small farmers which is also an emerging aspect of the digital divide, “lack of shared vision” between stakeholders, and multiple methods for data collection, tracking, and sharing can prevent widespread implementation of ICTs. The forum and other related GFAR activities “provide an opportunity to systematically analyse trends and disruptions and formulate scenarios of possible futures for ICT in agriculture.”