kremer2_Brent StirtonGetty Images_farmerphone Brent Stirton/Getty Images

Building Forward with Digital Agriculture

With COVID-19 having made us all more dependent on digital technology than ever before, now is the time to ensure that the revolution does not leave the world's poorest communities further behind. Increasing investment in technologies to help small-scale farmers will yield far-reaching benefits long after the pandemic has passed.

CAMBRIDGE/ROME – The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping societies around the world, in part by accelerating the digital revolution that was already underway at the beginning of the year. Since then, corporations have instituted mass teleworking. International gatherings now take place online, with heads of state and industry participating from home. Students learn remotely, and digital payments are further edging out cash.

But with technology influencing our lives more than ever, there is a risk that it will spread unevenly, entrenching existing inequalities and leaving the world’s poorest people further behind. That is not inevitable. Digital technologies can help end global poverty and hunger faster, including in rural parts of developing countries, where the majority of people earn their living from agriculture.

Digital agriculture – whereby farmers use mobile phones and other digital technologies to access customized, actionable agricultural information in real time – could revolutionize how these communities secure and improve their livelihoods. By making the right investments today, while many agricultural extension officers are restricted from visiting farmers in person, we can kick-start digital adoption and start to close the income gap that has long held rural areas back.

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