With a growing population and facing climate change challenges, digital agriculture can deliver Bangladesh the boost in productivity that is needed to secure food and nutrition security for decades to come.

This was one of the main conclusions of a workshop today to discuss digital opportunities in agriculture. The event, held at the BARC auditorium in Dhaka, was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with Aspire to Innovate (a2i). FAO Senior Economist Carlo Bravi gave a presentation on how digital technology is being used to improve food system sustainability.

Md. Sayedul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, chaired the inaugural session at which the special guests were Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, Project Director of a2i, Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) Division, and Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC). The technical session was chaired by Md. Abdus Salam, Member Director (Current Charge), Planning and Evaluation Division, BARC. Chief guest was N M Zeaul Alam PAA, Senior Secretary, ICT Division.

Digital innovations in agriculture, from mobile phones and internet connectivity for smallholder farmers to drones, and more advanced technology, have the potential to drive agricultural transformation in the country.

Speaking at the event, FAO Representative in Bangladesh Robert D. Simpson, said: “Digital transformation of agriculture is already here and it’s here to stay. Bangladesh is just starting on the road to adopting digital technologies and both the Government and FAO are committed to doing all we can to encourage its uptake. Digitalization of agriculture will boost productivity, helping to meet the increasing demand for food as the population grows, and to fulfill ambitions for increased food exports.”

Under the Digital Village Initiative, FAO and a2i are conducting a survey to collect baseline information to see how ready villages are for adopting digital technology. In addition, FAO, in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union, is conducting a stocktaking assessment of digital agriculture in Bangladesh. This will provide baseline information to measure progress and develop a digital agricultural strategy.