The OPEN DEI Agri-food Ecosystem currently brings together five H2020 Innovation Actions, DEMETER, ATLAS, SmartAgriHubs, agROBOfood and IoF2020 LSP (which is about to conclude) funded by the EC (DG CNECT, DG AGRI). In the past four years, IoF2020 developed and tested a pool of IoT components and solutions for demonstrating the central role of IoT in the digital transformation of European agriculture. This effort was tremendously successful.
IoF2020 demonstrated its value through actual implementations in trial use-cases that showed practical, real-life applications with the direct involvement of farmers. In this way, IoF2020 proved that Agriculture can be digitized, and that when technology providers and farmers collaborate, customized solutions can emerge to answer Agriculture’s need for ‘smart agriculture.’ This is an important lesson learned and an important legacy for the other Innovation Actions of the OPEN DEI Agri-food ecosystem that will continue to direct our path in the future.
Agri-food companies look at digitalization with many preconceptions. Not surprisingly, a recent study (FAO, 2020) showed that “the agri-food system lags other sectors in adopting digitalization.” However, the successful example of IoF2020, suggests that different strategies can help overcome scepticism and speed adoption as follows:
- Sensitizing farms and food industries in Europe to the advantages of digitalization’s advantages and benefits through the “learn by example” method and supporting them in testing in field solutions customised to their specific needs and requirements—this is what is expected to be done by pilots/use cases/experiments of the ongoing ecosystem projects such as SAHs, ATLAS, DEMETER.
- Providing farmers and the food industry with what they really ask for: solutions that are simple to install and manage and that give them the expected benefits in the short term. The Smart Agriculture market proposition must be based on a very strong model of enriched connectivity which envisages the development of end-to-end solutions to be proposed as software-as-a-service and which includes connectivity with a turnkey solution provider model.
- Providing financial support to additional European start-ups/SMEs for carrying out new trials (see the Open Calls which most of the Innovation Actions financed, IoF2020 included, and will continue in 2021).