In the week of January 17th, the International Green Week took place, welcoming around 400.000 visitors each year. During the opening event alone, 5.000 guests from all over the world listened to the speeches of e.g. the major of Berlin, the president of the German Farmers’ Union and the German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture. All speakers talked about the role of agriculture in their countries, the Brexit and the stability of Europe, as well as the growing importance of technology in agriculture. During the International Green Week, the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) took place. This is an international conference focused on the future of the global agri-food industry. The forum gives all stakeholders the opportunity to share ideas and enhance understanding of current agricultural policy.
Specific aspects of the GFFA’s main theme were explored in more detail in different event formats. The main events are the Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference hosted by the BMEL, and the International Business Panel Discussion hosted by GFFA Berlin e.V. Digitisation of agricultural practices was also on the agenda at this event.
German Minister on digitisation in agri-food
Julia Klöckner, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Food, stated that the spread of digital technology in the agri-food sector harbours huge potential, both for safeguarding global food security and for farmers and consumers. The digital transformation is therefore not an end in itself, but is instead a means to help us make our farming sector and food production more sustainable, targeted and transparent. In many countries, farming industries are already highly modern and digital. The digital transformation of the agri-food industry is a specific form of information technology, such as with the development of drones, robots and artificial intelligence. Ms Klöckner also gave some examples of the growing scope of digital applications in the agri-food sector, such as animal housing, satellite-based navigation by tractors, modern means to combat plat diseases, and weather forecasts on smartphones. While pleading for a “digital highway” in the agricultural sector, she also addresses the question of ownership of data, which remains one of the bigger issues.
A total of 70 Ministers of Agriculture convened in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for the Berlin Agriculture Ministers’ Conference (not public). After, a final communiqué representing the common position of the ministers was incorporated into the ongoing international discourse on agricultural policy. The final communiqué also included conclusions from High Level Panels that were held during preceding days. The presence of experts that shared their knowledge on specific topics and regions, ensured that the GFFA is closely meshed with current scientific thinking too.
Moreover, during the International Green Week, the GFFA Science Slam 2019 took place. A Science Slam is a short scientific lecture tournament in which scientists present their research topics – in this case on the subject of ‘Digitisation in Agriculture’. The mixed audience decided who gave the best presentation.