Publication – The power of digitalization: Transforming agrifood systems to enhance climate benefits

An overview brief for development cooperation practitioners on how to start a digital transformation in agrifood projects

Key Messages

  • Agrifood systems often do not function efficiently and are the single largest driver of environmental degradation. They are a major cause of climate change and at the same time vulnerable to its impacts. Although better soil management can sequester significant amounts of atmospheric carbon, the technologies to transition agrifood systems to net zero emissions are not yet available.
  • Digitalization offers a great opportunity to make agrifood systems more functional for farmers, consumers and the environment.
  • A lack of information and in particular the hightransaction costs for small farmers to access information, coupled with information asymmetries, are key transformation barriers that digitalization can address.
  • From farm to fork digital technology has the potential to accelerate sustainable intensification of diversified production and healthy diets with a low carbon footprint.
  • Farmers, through digital technology, can directly interact with consumers through digital platforms. This enables direct product marketing and consumer can directly influence sustainable production patterns through their daily food choice.
  • Digitalization bears risks contributing to information monopolies that bring further disadvantages to small farmers. Therefore, data governance and security are key to address.
  • Fostering and steering the digital transformation provides the opportunity for climate and development cooperation projects to make the agrifood sector more functional. This requires a) new partnerships, b) digitalization readiness and c) a focus on digital quick wins.
  • The youth can act as digital entrepreneurs, offering farm-facing services that improve farming practices and are inclusive by engaging the aging farming community. Innovation accelerators are an efficient tool to support such entrepreneurship.

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