The eighth Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) took place in Berlin, Germany from 17 – 19 January 2019. A record number of national delegations and international organisations accepted the German federal minister’s invitation for the International Conference of Agriculture Ministers. Subject of the conference was the global digitalisation in agriculture.

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The international conference, chiefly organised by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMEL) and held during International Green week, typically focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry. The forum gives representatives from the worlds of politics, business, science and civil society an opportunity to share ideas and enhance understanding on a selected topic of current agricultural policy.

“Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming” – this year’s conference aimed to demonstrate that digital technologies can help feed the growing world population more effectively while better conserving the planet’s resources. “Every human being in the world has a right to food, because you cannot build a peaceful world on empty stomachs. However, there are many conflicting interests: By 2050, we will have to feed more than two billion more people, while our resources are becoming ever scarcer. Digitalisation can help in this regard! “said Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner in her opening address.

According to Klöckner, digitalisation offers people good prospects, strengthens agriculture and rural areas and in this way combats the cause of migration. “We therefore intend to work together to find solutions in order to reduce the so-called digital divide and too improve access to digital technologies – for smallholders across the globe as well,” she said.

Call for an International Framework for Digitalisation in Agriculture

The 74 agriculture ministers present agreed in a final communiqué to launch a process for an international framework for digitalisation in agriculture under the auspices of the United Nations. They focused on four globally relevant areas:

  1. Digital technologies and innovations offer great potential.
  2. Farmers need access to these technologies. The technologies must be tailored to the needs of consumers.
  3. Data sovereignty and data security must be ensure.
  4. Structural changes in rural regions and agriculture must be managed.

The final communiqué was presented to José Graciano da Silva, FAO Director-General. The German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel attested to the importance of the conference and emphasized the potential of digital technologies.

Importance of rural youth employment

At the high-level event “EU Africa Alliance in Agriculture. The Way Forward,” Graciano da Silva highlighted the importance of rural youth employment on the continent and its potential to mitigate distress migration. “Fostering the creation of decent jobs in rural areas could help rural populations remain in their homelands. We need to invest in rural development aimed at creating jobs and opportunities for young people; we need youth for modern agriculture.” In his address, Graciano da Silva welcomed the role of the Task Force Rural Africa. FAO is already working with partners to facilitate pro-poor investments in new technologies, capacity development, market information, networks and social protection.

Statement of young farmers

At the high-level event “EU Africa Alliance in Agriculture. The Way Forward,” Graciano da Silva highlighted the importance of rural youth employment on the continent and its potential to mitigate distress migration. “Fostering the creation of decent jobs in rural areas could help rural populations remain in their homelands. We need to invest in rural development aimed at creating jobs and opportunities for young people; we need youth for modern agriculture.” In his address, Graciano da Silva welcomed the role of the Task Force Rural Africa. FAO is already working with partners to facilitate pro-poor investments in new technologies, capacity development, market information, networks and social protection.

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