FAO Advocates AI to Transform Global Agri-food Systems

Gilbert Ekugbe

The Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has emphasised on the need for governments across the globe to invest massively in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to revolutionise agri-food systems.

The Director General, FAO, QU Dongyu, explained that AI and the ongoing digital revolution would inevitably transform the world and its agrifood systems, while also solve global challenges.

Dongyu at the Business Federations of the G7 (B7) meeting in Rome, said AI is not just a technological shift, but a force driving fundamental economic and social transformation at the broadest level, stressing that AI recognizes its power to bring potential benefits to a wide range of populations and to contribute to improved efficiency and sustainability.

He noted that, “Digital agriculture can revolutionise how we produce, distribute and consume food.” 

He also highlighted the potential benefits for farmers and stakeholders across agrifood systems to include improved pricing data, minimising food loss and waste, enhancing food safety and stimulating adoption of better seeds, fertilizer and sustainable practices.

The Director-General emphasised the central role that data plays in AI and digital technologies, noting that quality data is needed to train innovative tools and to accelerate actions such as agrifood systems transformation. 

Qu also urged private-sector actors to increase their ambition for climate action and to show more accountability towards their supply chains and the communities in the countries from which they source, buy and sell their products

“Another absolutely critical area for collaboration and harmonisation of approaches is in the energy sector. Decarbonization by 2050 is “simply not possible” without addressing energy consumption across agrifood systems,” the Director-General said.

The FAO Director-General spoke at a session focused on charting new courses for cross-border global cooperation, joined by Mathias Cormann, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

To broaden the positive impact of such enabling innovations, FAO is working closely with all partners, including governments, academia, the private sector, civil society and international organizations, advocating for a robust approach with targeted, coherent and comprehensive strategies and actions implemented in synergy and in compliance with ethical principles.

“FAO has a formidable database in FAOSTAT, data is central to FAO’s Strategic Framework 2022-2031 and has an innovation lab to experiment with new sources and methods. One takeaway from those initiatives is that data ecosystems require significant investment and effective collaboration. FAO stands ready to engage and partner with the B7 group and the private sector in this area,” Qu said.

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