The need for advancement of data driven agriculture that will lead the future of innovations in Agriculture set the agenda at the opening ceremony of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) in Utrecht, Netherlands. In a keynote addresses by André Laperrière, Executive Director, Global Open Data Initiative for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), he stressed the need for data driven agriculture to set the road to innovation in agriculture. This was echoed by Pekka Pesonen, Secretary General, Copa - Cogeca - the united voice of farmers and their cooperatives in the European Union who highlighted the need for Big Data to support the ambitious objectives of European Farmers.
The two-day exhibition and conference is part of Internationa Week Smart for Food Production (IWSFP). It has brought together the food and agriculture industries from all over the world for the first time to debate the biggest challenges to drive sustainable agriculture for increased productivity and food security in Europe and the world. It marks a significant step towards addressing food security and cultivating change to sustainably feed nine billion people by 2050.
André Laperrière said: “Innovation is key to help the world meet the security challenges that lie ahead of this planet, with 50% more of us to sustain before the 2050 timeframe. Knowledge or data is the key to innovation and the way to make things differently, better, cheaper and more efficient, more sustainable. Innovation is key to progress; innovation in agriculture and nutrition, is the necessary path to the world’s survival. Innovation should not be for the happy few, but for all those involved in the food ecosystem, including farmers big and small from every part of the world.”
He added that: “Innovation can be in many forms a technique that exits somewhere else and can be an innovation once it is brought in; a tool or practice that was once used, and then forgotten; a combination of existing tools or a modification of something so that it acquires new properties; all of these point to data driven agriculture. Agriculture through facts, knowledge, empowerment. Let’s tap into the world’s capacity to innovate.”
In his opening remarks Pekka Pesonen said: “The agricultural industry has seen substantial changes over the past century. It has moved forward to an era with digitally enhanced agriculture, precision farming, automated vehicles, robots, drones, biotechnology. Yet this is no longer the stuff of the future, but actually reality for many farms and cooperatives. The use of modern machinery, equipped with GPS, supported by EU systems such as Galileo and Copernicus and big data can help farmers to achieve ambitions objectives. We support our European businesses to develop new, innovative solutions for farming, in particular taking into account our European conditions. Survival of European agriculture requires superior knowledge and use of the latest innovative technologies, in line with consumer market expectations. It’s therefore of European farmers interest that Europe remains a global leader in research and innovation in order to ensure farmers reap the benefits of new technologies and solutions adapted to our farmer’s needs.”
In a first for GFIA, the opening ceremony was concluded with a keynote speech by Bas Lansdorp, CEO and Co-founder of Mars One, the Dutch foundation that aims to land the first humans on Mars in 2030. He shared the business model for a manned mission to Mars and the complexities of finding a crew that can do it and the need to establish a closed sustainable agricultural ecosystem. Bas stated: “Mars One's mission is feasible because it is a mission of permanent settlement, there is no return trip. It will be extremely important to produce food locally both for the business case and for the wellbeing of the Mars settlers. We have been undertaking numerous successful agricultural projects driven by innovations to replicate the growing conditions on Mars.”
Nicola Davison GFIA Conference Director in her closing remarks and officially opening of the event said: “GFIA has emerged as a global authority on sustainable food production, driving innovation through exhibitions and conferences across the world and we have no doubt that the next two-days will foster meaningful dialogue, collaboration, recognition and year-round action between regional food producers, buyers, innovators, policy makers and investors. This year we are pleased to welcome international delegations from Australia, UAE and countries from the North African Business Council including Mali, Niga, Burkina Faso to GFIA and the Netherlands.”
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