Type of Dialogue
Language of Dialogue Event
Please review the details below for registration information if available or contact the Convenor if you would like to attend.
Timely and accurate information is critical in building climate resilience for smallholder farmers and fisherfolks across the Commonwealth. In other words, efficient utilisation of appropriate adaptation technologies such as drought tolerant crop varieties; water and nutrient management for efficient productivity and resource utilisation; conservation agricultural practices; index-base insurance services as a cushioning mechanism against environmental shocks; transparent trade regimes, among others are subject to up-to-date and relevant data for timely decision making. However, most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) across the Commonwealth have weak and deficient agricultural data systems which impact negatively on the capacity to engage in effective planning, programming, and policy formulation processes. Digitalisation has the potential to assist countries in these regions to strengthen their weak agricultural data systems generally, and more specifically in relation to addressing the threats of climate change.
This event is part of the on-going activities of the Supply Side Connectivity Cluster (SSCC) of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda for Trade and Investment (CCA) that focuses on digital agriculture and digital fisheries. It builds on two convenings with members earlier this year on framing digital agriculture and digital fisheries in the Commonwealth. The objectives of the event which positions the digital agriculture/fisheries framework within the context of climate resilience include:
- Highlighting the economic importance of agriculture/fisheries in the Commonwealth
- Deliberating on the threat of climate change to the agricultural and fisheries sectors
- Exploring the role of digitalisation in building climate resilience for smallholders
- Discussing the policy implications of national approach to data infrastructure
According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the agricultural sector has continued to absorb a large proportion of the working population and will have to continue doing so to support the estimated 330 million young Africans who will enter the labour market, with limited opportunities for finding jobs in cities by 2030. The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) has outlined a threefold role of agriculture in national development in the Caribbean including food security, social stability, and environmental protection. The Asia region according to the Rabobank, is a decisive component in the global food chain, accounting for 19% of total global food and agriculture exports and 31% of total food and agriculture imports. About 28% of the population of the Commonwealth countries in the Pacific is employed in the agriculture sector and the agriculture sector contributes 14% to the GDP of these countries.
Despite the above contributions of agriculture and fisheries sectors to the economies of the Commonwealth, challenges persist. Key among them is increasing climate variability. Small states especially are vulnerable to climate change, and their export profiles tend to be concentrated in goods and services that are climate-sensitive, including agriculture and fisheries. This affects productivity within the sectors, a factor of growth and a ratio of outputs to inputs in agriculture and fisheries. Productivity is impacted by climate variability, thereby rendering traditional knowledge of actors within the value chains valueless. The Caribbean and Pacific countries are some of the most vulnerable geographic regions in the world to the potential impacts of climate change. There are increasing occurrences of strong hurricanes, extreme rainfall events, storms, floods, extreme droughts, and rising sea levels among other changes. These events have direct impact on agriculture productivity because traditionally grown crop species are no longer relevant.
Digitalisation is seen as a game-changer for smallholder agriculture and fisheries transformation. Digital innovations – services/solutions and technologies are changing the way agriculture/fisheries stakeholders’ access and use information for research, climate resilience, production, market, trade, finance as well as policy and decision making. Successful stories of the use of digital climate advisory services by smallholder farmers exist across the Commonwealth. But the success of the digital technologies and digital services depends on the data behind their operation.
Access to accurate, precise, customised, targeted, and tailored advisory services is needed now than before. This requires complex data infrastructure to support effective functioning of services that are relevant within the food system in the wake of changing climate conditions. Without accurate, up-to-date, and sustainable data, even well-intended policies can wreak unnecessary economic loss and fail to meet the needs of the intended beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the current model of fisheries and agricultural data infrastructure in most of the Commonwealth member countries can be described as “Spokes without Hubs”. Investment in both content and user data is being driven by service providers (mostly the private sector). An alternative model that looks at the role of member state governments working with the private sector service providers could create an added value to all parties.
Results from the Workshop will be captured and fed into:
- The ongoing CCA activities that aim to grow intra-Commonwealth agricultural and fisheries trade and investment, and the outcomes taken forward into the work of the Supply Side Connectivity Cluster (SSCC).
- Future knowledge sharing and discussions on how digitalisation can be a catalyst for promoting and building climate resilience for smallholders in the Commonwealth.
- The bases for strengthening joint work of national governments and their representative institutions, complementing efforts and resources towards increased adoption of digitalisation in climate-smart agriculture.
 The set of basic and fundamental facilities and systems that are necessary for the sustainable functioning of agricultural data and information within the food system.
 The State of Digital Agriculture in the Commonwealth (unpublished report, 2021).
 A set of fundamental facilities – the basic structure of a system that is necessary for accurate, precise, customised, targeted, and tailored agricultural/fisheries advisory services and products to move from source of production to consumers.