EU must take initiatives to ensure the leading role of farmers and cooperatives in the digital revolution
“Smart farming is a decision-making process that is not defined but optimized by the use of technology. Farmers and cooperatives, with the support of the EU and with strong advisory services, will continue to make decisions even in the context of digitization. The future of the European agricultural sector is anthropocentric”.
This was the key message sent by Mrs. Elli Tsiforou, responsible for the Brussels Office of GAIA EPICHEIREIN, in the context of the event “Digitizing Agriculture and Food Value Chains”, co-organized by the European Commission’s General Directorates for Agriculture and Rural development, and Research and Innovation on November 17th, 2017 in Brussels.
Mrs Tsiforou was invited to participate in the Plenary of the event together with representatives of agri-food stakeholders to discuss issues that have to do with the opportunities and challenges of digitizing the European agri-food sector.
Mrs. Tsiforou referred to GAIA EPICHEIREIN’s strategic investment in the nationwide smart farming project that has been developing for the past 2 years with the support of its strategic partner NEUROPUBLIC S.A.
Mrs. Tsiforou pointed out that “the opportunities of digitization are enormous and Greek farmers and cooperatives participating in this effort have started seeing first economic benefits ranging from 27% to 52% cumulatively, depending on the crop type.
In addition to these significant savings, the contribution of technology in the improvement of the environmental impact of agriculture is a critical and sensitive point that is a priority of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) today and in the future, and should also be taken into account.
At the same time, she noted that “the business approach of GAIA EPICHEIREIN, which provides smart farming as a low-cost service thus relieving the farmer from the investment cost, and cooperating primarily with cooperatives in order to achieve added value at wider areas, in fact, proves that the digital revolution also refers to countries like Greece, with a high level of parcel fragmentation and a large number of mountainous and less-favored areas.”
Finally, Mrs Tsiforou appealed to the representatives of the European Commission to take initiatives so that all European farmers and cooperatives will be able to seize the opportunities of digitization. As she said, “we cannot let the market decide everything. We must provide primary sector representatives with incentives and appropriate policy tools, such as investment support and powerful advisory services. The forthcoming Commission communication on the post-2020 CAP should address these issues and propose sustainable solutions.”
The event, opened by EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, was attended by 400 participants from across the agri-food chain. It was part of the Commission’s initiatives in the context of the InfoWeek to promote the new Horizon 2020 programs for years 2018-2020 on Societal Challenge 2: “Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bio-economy”.