Strengthening European research on digitisation in the agri-food system and organizing international research calls to pool the fragmented human and financial resources over the boundaries of the participating countries, in order to improve both the efficiency and the effectiveness of Europe’s research efforts in food systems.
The vision for the ERA-NET Cofund ICT-AGRI-FOOD (illustrated in Figure 1) is to bring together actors from across the entire agri-food systems including primary producers (comprising both conventional and organic), advisors, SMEs, food processors, food retailers, consumers and the public sector (e.g. ministries, policy makers and regulatory bodies) with researchers in a multi-actor approach, to enable digital technology solutions for a transition towards sustainable and resilient agri-food systems. These solutions will make use of data from all across the food chain to deliver benefits for the society as a whole and will lead to a more sustainable and transparent food system with empowered stakeholders (e.g. consumers, governmental authorities, industries) who are in the position to take smarter, more sustainable, healthier and more personal food and dietary choices, taking into account data regarding environmental impact, origin, nutrition, safety and integrity.
Potentially the improved use of data can result in transformed agri-food systems characterised by a much better management of the environmental impact of the sector, including greater efficiency, reducing inputs, emissions, waste and losses throughout the food system. Such an integrated systems perspective will facilitate the development of entirely new business models, whereby actors in the system other than primary producers may be willing to bear (some of) the cost of new technology in exchange for the downstream benefits of its adoption. Ultimately, this will help to remove barriers to adoption of digital technologies and will lead to increased food security and resilience, reduced competition for resources, improved competitiveness of the sector and a balanced strengthening of all pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental, social and governmental). The digital technologies will build on the standardisation efforts and platform developments from existing projects and will integrate with existing major digital platforms from food actors, ICT solution providers and consumers.