11th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA)

  • 23rd January 2019
  • by secretary

17 – 19 January 2019. Berlin. The 11th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) was held on the subject “Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming”.

The Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) is an international conference that focuses on central questions concerning the future of the global agri-food industry. It gives representatives from the worlds of politics, business, science and civil society an opportunity to share ideas and enhance understanding on a selected topic of current agricultural policy.

A total of 15 expert panels were held at the GFFA, each with around 130 participants. The different perspectives and focuses of the GFFA theme of “Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming” were highlighted and debated in depth. The expert panels were organised by national and international organisations, associations, diplomatic and consular missions and ministries of agriculture, universities and research institutes.

These are the founding members of GFFA Berlin e.V.:

  • the Federation of German Food and Drink Industries (BVE)
  • the German Farmers‘ Association (DBV)
  • the German Agricultural Society (DLG)
  • the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations in the German Eastern Business Association (OAOEV)
  • and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ)
Communiqué 2019 (23 January 2019, 8 pages)

We, the agriculture ministers assembled at GFFA 2019, aim to use the potential of digitalization to increase agricultural production and productivity, while improving sustainability, efficient use of resources, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities and living conditions, especially in rural areas.

GFFA 2019 identified a number of actions to achieve the following four objectives:

  1. Identifying and using the potential of digitalization
  2. Establishing, expanding and protecting the access of farmers to digital technologies
  3. Improving data use, ensuring data security and data sovereignty
  4. Managing structural changes in agriculture and rural areas 
This includes considering the establishment of an international Digital Council for Food and Agriculture that will advise governments and other relevant actors and encourage the FAO, with the involvement of other stakeholders, to draw up a technology impact assessment of the opportunities and risks presented by digitalization for agriculture and rural areas.

FAO: Utilizing the Power of Digital Innovations for youth, smallholders and family farmers

  • smallholders and family farmers’ challenges and barriers in accessing and utilizing data and innovative technologies to improve food security and nutrition, through country case examples.
  • the role and interventions of governments, civil society, private sector, academia, and farmers to address both challenges and barriers to ensure sustained benefits for family farmers.
  • governmental strategies and policy options for creating an enabling environment to bridge the rural digital divide and create opportunities for rural youth, smallholders and family farmers, and to improve rural livelihoods and sustainability of agrifood systems.

Dr. Luis Miguel Etchevehere – State Secretary of Agroindustry, Argentina
Dr. Qu Dongyu – Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, The People’s Republic of China
Dr. Aleksandra Pivec – Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Slovenia
Dr. Ezz El-Din Abu Steit – Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation, Egypt
Dr. Jose Graziano da Silva – Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN

EC: Sowing the seeds of Digitalisation: What’s in it for food security and market transparency?

  • What should be the contribution of digitalisation to meet SDG2 and 12?
  • What have you done in your country to make better use of digital technologies in the agricultural sector?
  • What are we missing? What role for research & innovation, vocational training and extension services to improve market transparency?

Julia Klöckner – Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, Germany
Phil Hogan – EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development

EU Agricultural Commissioner Phil Hogan lamented the gaps in broadband coverage in Europe: many rural areas were still lacking services in this respect. “This not only threatens their ability to compete but also the economy in these regions. Not only should EU member states include digitalisation in their policy planning, but they should also ensure that programmes and technologies come to fruition and are implemented. (see speech)

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle – EU FAO Candidate | Ministry of Food and Agriculture, France

David Littleproud – Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Australia
Dr. Luis Miguel Etchevehere – State Secretary of Agroindustry, Argentina

EU – Africa Alliance in Agriculture – the way forward

The European Commission Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation set up a Task Force Rural Africa (‘TFRA’) in spring 2018. 
  • The TFRA consists of 11 members with high-level expertise and experience in agriculture and rural development in Africa and in Europe.
  • This group of experts has been asked to provide expertise, advice and recommendations in relation to strengthening the EU-Africa partnership in food and farming activities, including the use of digitalisation in job creation in rural Africa.
  • TFRA chairperson, Mr Tom Arnold, provided an overview about the work of the Task Force and present the proposals and recommendations for discussion with the participants of the “Fachpodium”.
  1. Build a strong EU/Africa Partnership for inclusive and sustainable development of agriculture and food sectors and rural economy
  2. Operate at three levels: people to people – business to business – government to government
  3. Multi-stakeholder dialogue between African and European societies, business communities and governments
Strategic areas for action 

1. Territorial development strategy for income and job creation

  • Local institutions and networks
  • Implementing a territorial approach
  • Infrastructure
  • Social capital

2. Sustainable land and natural resources management and climate action
3. Sustainable transformation of African agriculture

  • Strategies for agric. Transformation
  • Boosting research, education and innovation systems, capacity building
  • Improving markets and increasing farm outputs
  • Promoting farmers’ organisations and cooperatives

4. Development of the African food industry and food market

Rural agenda
  • An African local action programme
  • Knowledge innovation and networking initiative
  • Mainstream environmental sustainability and promote climate action
  • Private finance for small and medium food enterprises
  • Sharing African and European expertise
  • Value chains, regional integration and intraregional trade
  • Focus on youth & gender

WTO: Out of the deadlock – new visions for Agricultural Trade
The long-term objective of WTO agricultural negotiations is a fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system. Fewer restrictions and distortions in agricultural trade lead to competitive, healthy and sustainable development in the sector and allow for the most economic and eco-efficient supply of food to all consumers. This view seems to be questioned by more and more countries. 

  • What are the concerns behind this criticism and how to address them? 
  • What might be the solutions for the stalled multilateral negotiations? 
  • Is protectionism helping or harming the sustainable development and food security in developing countries? 
  • Which economy wide policy combinations are needed to support agricultural and trade policies in effectively boosting rural development worldwide?

Phil Hogan, EU Commission, DG Agri
Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union
Alan Wolff Director-General , WTO
Hendrik Bourgeois, VP for Corporate Affairs EMEA Cargill

The GFFA Workshop “Sustainable livestock goes digital” 

An international panel of experts was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL). The workshop linked the results of the GFFA 2018 (“Shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently”) with the topic of the GFFA 2019 “Agriculture Goes Digital – Smart Solutions for Future Farming” and analysed how GFFA 2019 could build on last year’s work.
Expert Panels:
  • Digital solutions for farming today – How does technological innovation meet young farmers´ needs? – Organiser: FarmFacts GmbH, World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO)
  • Blockchain: The digital revolution in agriculture – Organiser: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
  • Agriculture Goes Digital – Together in cooperatives – Organiser: German Raiffeisen Association (DRV), cooperative companies
  • How can digital agriculture foster resource-efficient and environmentally-friendly food production? – Organiser: National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA), Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex- Brasil), Brazilian Agriculture Research Cooperation (EMBRAPA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Brazil
  • Blue skies for green farms: a 21st century research agenda – Organiser: Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases
  • Digital Agriculture: Challenges and Opportunities for Farmers towards more Sustainable Food Systems – Organiser: Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG)
  • Technology, Tracking and Traceability in Animal Health: How digitalisation improves our ability to protect against disease, advance the well-being of farm animals and support livestock production – Organiser: HealthforAnimals – Global Animal Medicines Association, German Animal Health Industry Association (BfT), AnimalhealthEurope – European Animal Health Industry Association
  • Big Data for Smallholder Agriculture Transformation – Organiser: CTA and FAO

  • From digital farms to digital consumers – Digital transformation in the global agri and food business – Organiser: GFFA e. V.
  • Going digital against the drought – New technologies and the challenges of their implementation – Organiser: German Agribusiness Alliance at German Eastern Business Association, Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), German-Sino Agricultural Center
  • Digital technologies for agri-food chains: High potential – critical gaps – Organiser: Leibniz Research Alliance “Sustainable Food Production and Healthy Nutrition”, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
  • Digitalization: Utopia or dystopia? The end of the resource crisis or unlimited corporate power over our food? – Organiser: INKOTA-Network, Bread for the World, Forum on Environment and Development
  • Digitalisation and Finance: Creating Opportunities for African Farmers – Organiser: The

    German-African Business Association, German Agribusiness Alliance

  • What is cooking: Re-thinking farm and food policy in the digital age – Organiser: The World Bank Group

Related: 18-27 January 2019. The 84th (93 years) International Green Week

Founded in Berlin in the Golden 20s (1926), IGW is a one-of-a-kind international exhibition of the food, agriculture and gardening industries.