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Tropentag 2023, September 20 - 22, Berlin, Germany

"Competing pathways for equitable food systems transformation: trade-offs and synergies."

Responsible digital innovation in agri-food systems: ethical and equitable transformation for sustainable agriculture

Jawoo Koo1, Andrea Gardeazabal2, Jonathan Steinke3

1International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), United States
2International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico
3The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Digital Inclusion, Italy


Responsible digital innovation in agri-food systems refers to the ethical and sustainable development, implementation, and use of digital technologies to enhance agriculture and food production while considering the well-being of farmers, consumers, the environment, and society as a whole. It involves a thoughtful and conscientious approach to adopting digital solutions that address the specific needs and challenges of the agri-food sector, while minimising potential risks and negative consequences. Key aspects involve ethical use of data; equitable access to digital technologies and their benefits; prioritising digital solutions that contribute to sustainable agricultural practices, resource conservation, and environmental protection; co-creation and human-centred design; relying on research-based evidence to guide the adoption and scaling of digital innovations; interoperability and common standards fostering integration and data re-use; and responsible business models that prioritise social and environmental benefits alongside economic gains.
The Digital Innovation Initiative spearheaded by a team of 70 scientists in collaboration with local partners is committed to generating research-driven evidence that comprehends the mid and long-term implications of digital solutions. This implies researching on ethical considerations, biases, divides, accessibility, affordability, interoperability, and inclusivity of existing and future digital innovations in agri-food systems.
The session will showcase the progress of some of the case studies we have across the focus regions. These include a partnership with Farm Radio International, leveraging Artificial Intelligence to amplify extension services and empower 12 million sub-Saharan African farmers to voice their concerns. Scaling and adapting the digital diet quality monitoring developed in Rwanda for use in other regions. Additionally, an exploration into data wallets for small-holder farmers seeks to better understand the potential for data ownership as an asset in Mexico and India, while a digital twin approach in Southern Africa engages water resource management authorities to facilitate equitable resource allocation through efficient environmental flow management, water quality enhancement, and drought risk mitigation.

Keywords: Agri-food systems, data ownership, digital twins, equitable transformation, ethics, responsible digital innovation, sustainable agriculture

Contact Address: Jonathan Steinke, The Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, Digital Inclusion, Rome, Italy, e-mail: j.steinke@cgiar.org

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