Imagine drones mapping vast agricultural lands to predict the quality and quantity of harvests or QR codes on food items helping customers track products to the farm level. Welcome to the world of information and communication technology (ICT) that is making these things possible.
A three-day forum and exhibition in Bangkok on ICT devices convened by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Telecommunication Union has attracted participants from across Asia and the Pacific.
Speaking during the event, Kundhavi Kadiresan, FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia and the Pacific, said, “Clearly the application of ICT developments in the food and agriculture sector is having a positive impact and will continue to do so as technology continues to advance.”
Implementation of e-agriculture strategies will improve the lives of rural people and help us achieve a hunger-free world, Kadiresan added.
From drones to smart phones, advancements made in ICT are bridging the gap by providing information on climate-smart technologies and practices.“Climate-related early warning system has been developed by many countries to varying degrees of success. Cost of access to information is decreasing due to the drop in ICT prices and the growth of mobile broadband. Small-holder farmers, who are very much dependent on getting the right information at the right time, stand to benefit greatly from timely information,” Gerard Sylvester, knowledge and information management officer at FAO, said.
ICTs include devices, networks, services and applications, including internet-based technologies and tools, such as telephones, mobiles, televisions, radio and satellites.
Helping fight climate change
In an era of climate change, e-agriculture can offer services like weather forecasts and disaster alerts, which can help farmers plan accordingly. The e-agriculture strategy is a framework, where countries identify what ICT applications are needed to address their agricultural challenges or accelerate achieving their priorities. Many countries have increased food production as one of their agricultural goals.
“With e-agriculture, information on good agricultural practices, weather information, market-price information, advisories on pest and diseases and other early warning systems assist farmers to take an informed decision in order to increase production and enhance livelihoods,” Gerard added.
In today’s world, food traceability is also becoming important. Producers want food traceability for branding their products whereas consumers want it to be assured of the quality of the food products they buy. Retailers like to have food traceability to be able to monitor, track and recall products in case of any issues.