The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Spain’s Telefonica, one of the world’s largest telecommunications groups, have agreed to work together to leverage the use of cutting-edge digital technologies for agricultural development, food security and nutrition in the developing world.
Specifically the duo will prepare and strengthen farmers in the face of extreme weather events related to climate change. An agreement signed by FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, and Telefonica’s Global Director of Public Affairs Strategy, Trinidad Jiménez, foresees joint initiatives targeting innovation, digitalisation, data analysis and systems so that farmers can access vital information to improve their livelihoods and strengthen their resilience to climate change.
"This partnership will help us face one of the greatest current challenges in the fight against hunger, poverty and the effects of climate change in agriculture,” commented Graziano da Silva. “Access to reliable information, including that related to changing weather patterns, is essential to empower farmers, especially those who live in developing countries.”
“We hope that our data, knowledge and technologies will contribute to the development of our society and digitalisation will add value to organisations like FAO that make decisions based on data as a transforming element," added Trinidad Jiménez.
The agreement, which has an initial duration of three years, includes three main areas:
● Application of the Internet of Things - the digital interconnection of everyday objects to the Internet - to the agricultural sector to optimise processes and make more efficient use of natural resources.
FAO and Telefónica are working on a pilot water efficiency project with communities in El Salvador and Colombia, using a combination of specialised hardware, cloud storage and data processing that generates recommendations to facilitate decision-making for farmers on issues related to irrigation for an efficient use of water.
The initiative, which also uses artificial intelligence algorithms developed by Telefónica, will be replicated in areas of the Central American Dry Corridor.
● Use of Big Data - management and analysis of a huge and varied amount of data - on weather patterns to establish early warning systems. Specifically, it will help analyse how climate change affects population movements in the areas of the Central American Dry Corridor and Colombia most affected by the phenomena of El Niño and La Niña.
● Digital education and capacity building: part of FAO’s educational content will be incorporated into Telefónica’s open training platforms. An example: users will be able to learn about food systems, nutrition and agricultural development in Miríadax, the first Ibero-American platform for Massive Open Online Courses (better known as MOOCs).