A few days ago, la Ferme Digitale organized the 3rd LFDAY, focusing on agricultural transition. LFDAY is the primary French AgTech event that brings together the whole agriculture and agri-food ecosystem to discuss the issues and innovations that that will affect tomorrow’s agriculture. More than 100 French and international start-ups were present, and the aim was not just to exchange in the context of themed conferences, but to pay tribute to a dynamic and innovative ecosystem.
The primary role of agriculture is to feed the world’s population, which has increased by 2 billion citizens in the last 30 years. According to forecasts from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agriculture needs to produce 50% more food, despite agricultural land increasing by only 4%.
Ensuring agricultural transition is not just about revolutionising a sector, it’s also about having an impact on tomorrow’s world. Productivity, local production, the place of new technologies and urban agriculture were all central issues discussed during the day. AgTech intends to respond to these issues. With $13bn invested in AgTech worldwide over the past 5 years, including $5bn in 2018 alone, (source: Digital Food Lab), we are talking about real acceleration, even if, as one might expect, Europe is trailing behind China and the US.
Acting is not just about investing; all actors in the agri-food chain need to react. Danone, for example, has fixed a date, committing to 100% regenerative agriculture by 2025, showing that all parties, from farm to table, are concerned.
Agriculture’s digital transition
I was speaking at the round table focusing on Digital Transition, to demonstrate how digital technology is disrupting the whole chain of agri-food today. There are many successful farms and digital actors working for this digital transition. However, the issues are not solely technological, but also directly concern the future of our agricultural sectors and the job of a farmer: maintaining the autonomy of farmer’s decision making; defending the autonomy of governance and knowledge-based agriculture through data and digital technologies.
I was able to share the example of what we’re doing with The Green Data teams: we help farmers to integrate big data and artificial intelligence into their activities, using data-algorithmic solutions. In a complex agri-food sector, subject to numerous economic uncertainties, combining business expertise and intelligent data exploitation is a major opportunity.
It’s obvious we’re currently experiencing a “Third agricultural revolution”. Not just one transition, but transitions in the plural. For this agricultural revolution to be successful, we have to talk about multiple agriculture transitions.