We must use big data to protect food security and increase climate resilience,” says Commonwealth Secretary-General at COP27
The New Commonwealth policy guide demonstrates how governments can leverage digital tools to revolutionize the agricultural sector
The global threat to food security is one of the major concerns being addressed at COP27 in Egypt this week. Today the Commonwealth Secretary-General called on Commonwealth governments to learn from each other and work together to transform Commonwealth nations into a powerhouse to feed the world.
To help governments to build a more productive and sustainable agricultural sector, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, encouraged member countries to use the Commonwealth’s new policy guide for governments:
“We must use big data and digital tools to protect food security and increase climate resilience. New technologies and data generation can transform business practices across the agricultural value chain and address bottlenecks in, productivity, harvesting, market access, finance, and supply chain management.
We are releasing this policy guide here today at COP27 because we know how essential food security is to our members and the world. This guide is the first of its kind to assess how digitalisation is impacting the agricultural sector across the Commonwealth. I strongly believe that this is a valuable step, not only for the Commonwealth but for small, developing and middle-income countries globally. It will help policymakers to understand how to target key areas to improve and develop this vital sector and support knowledge exchange between Commonwealth countries,” she said.
Agriculture ensures food security and employment in most Commonwealth member countries with over half of the Commonwealth’s 2.5 billion people residing in rural areas and engaging in smallholder farming.
Developed by the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda, the framework outlined in the ‘The State of Digital Agriculture in the Commonwealth’ policy guide, assesses different regions based on their existing digital innovations, data infrastructure, business development services, and enabling environment for digitalization and suggests strategies for progress.
According to the policy guide, while Commonwealth Africa lacks some vital data infrastructure, significant progress has been made through digital innovations, technologies and services. In Commonwealth Asia, technologies for agriculture have advanced across the region but affordability for services remains a challenge to the most vulnerable.
The business development sector, financing and investments are underdeveloped and in need of progress in the Caribbean and Pacific Small Island Developing nations. In the Commonwealth across Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, mobile applications are common and smart farming technologies are widely used, therefore the policy guide encourages other regions to learn from best practices and innovations from these regions to assist them in making rapid and valuable progress.
Whilst speaking on a COP27 panel focussed on ‘Commonwealth Countries Growing Together for Climate Resilience and Food and Nutrition Security’, Secretary-General Scotland stressed that efforts must be made by both the public and private sectors to realise the full potential of digital solutions for the agricultural sector. She went on to encourage policymakers to take advantage of the Commonwealth’s new guide, and the technical expertise and assistance offered by the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda programme.