With great excitement, I, together with my six colleagues, flied to attend the AgriFuture Days 2014 Conference from June 16th-18th in Villach, Austria, which had been organized by the Club of Ossiach. After ten hours travel, we finally reached our destination, a beautiful and mountainous village.
The theme of this year’s AgriFuture Days was “ICTs enabling Family Farming." During the conference, it was discussed the future of agriculture in the context of how ICTs can contribute to improve family farming and make it more sustainable, resilient and profitable. Speakers from private sector, public community, commercial circle, and research groups actively participated and presented their thoughts and suggestions.
During the conference, I found out that people from other regions like Asia, Africa or Europe, who are engaged in agriculture, are using ICTs all over the world. Moreover, the research fields were various, including IOTs, precision agriculture, information service with smart terminals, as well as agro-meteorological forecast. We were different people from different countries, skin color and research fields, however, at the conference, we became a big family.
Participants were divided in three groups to discuss three topics respectively: 1. Informing farmers and family farming communities; 2. improving family farm’s production, productivity and marketing efficiencies; and 3. contributing to the future of agriculture. I joined the first group and shared my views about how ICTs could affect family farming. My point was that ICTs, especially new technologies, such as cloud computing, IOTs, e-commerce and big data, still have much potential in the field of agriculture.
During the coffee break, we had a warm talk with each other. I talked with a young Ethiopian researcher who worked in the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). We talked a lot about the information service in his country as we have planned to promote our program in Ethiopia too. Likewise, I met a young Bangladeshi professional who also focused on agricultural extension, with whom I had a discussion on ICTs in agriculture extension. By extraordinary coincidence, I also met YPARD Ukraine representative, Kristina Kuznetsova. What a small world!
On 17th of June, I gave a presentation about how to innovate the grass-root agricultural extension system with ICTs in rural china. Our team, led by Dr. Wang Wensheng, shared the different experiences we have had in this field along the previous years. My presentation was divided in three parts. While the first part consisted of why we had chosen the grass-root agricultural extension system as the service object and what advantages they have, the second part focused on how to put our ideas into practices. We had three steps: 1) providing the grass-root extension staff with smart terminals; 2) integrating resources on agriculture from different departments; and 3) building invisible networks with ICTs connecting extension staff and researchers. The third part was an introduction about pilot demonstrations in the past five years.
In the end, I shared some comments about agriculture, ICTs and youths.
1) Agriculture has made great progress over the past years, but there are still many challenges, such as Population increase, Resources shortage and Climate change.
2) ICTs have had a great impact on agriculture, but there are still endless possibilities for ICTs in agriculture, especially new technologies, like Cloud computing, IOTs, E-commerce and Big data, etc.
3) Youth have played a very important role in agriculture development. But they can do more with more opportunities, attention and support.
We do believe that the youth can contribute more to agriculture with the help of ICTs.
We are looking forward to your attention.
More details about the AgriFuture Days here.
Edited by Ms. Chen Fumei.