Digital agriculture can help Bangladesh boost its productivity to secure food and nutrition security amid increasing challenges of climate change and a growing population.

Experts said this at an event organised by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with Aspire to Innovate (a2i) in Dhaka Thursday.

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, they added.

Robert D Simpson, FAO representative in Bangladesh, said: “Digital transformation of agriculture is already here and it is here to stay. Bangladesh is just starting on the road to adopting digital technologies.”

“Digitalisation of agriculture will boost the country’s productivity, helping it meet the increasing demand for food as the population grows, and fulfil ambitions for increased food exports.”

At the same time as rapid population growth, the availability of natural resources such as fresh water and productive arable land is becoming increasingly constrained. Urbanisation is also having important implications for patterns of food production and consumption.

Digital innovations and technologies are part of the solution, the experts said.

Drones, for example, can cut production costs and maximise the efficient use of resources. Real-time AI-enabled digital solutions for data-driven decision-making can help policymakers and stakeholders, including farmers, reduce risk and challenges.

Read: ‘Bangladesh’s agriculture sector needs Tk 15,000cr investment in next 5 yrs’

Digitalisation has also opened up opportunities for agri-tech startups to develop innovative business models targeting smallholder farmers on account of cutting-edge digital technologies that reduce transaction and discovery costs.

Technology means that value chains can become traceable and coordinated at the most detailed level whilst different fields, crops, and animals can be accurately managed to their optimal prescriptions.

Digital agriculture will create systems that are highly productive, anticipatory and adaptable to changes such as those caused by climate change. This, in turn, could lead to greater food security, profitability and sustainability, the experts said.

Agriculture Secretary Md Sayedul Islam chaired the inaugural session of the event, where Dewan Muhammad Humayun Kabir, project director of a2i, ICT Division, and Shaikh Mohammad Bokhtiar, executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), were the special guests.

Md Abdus Salam, member director (current charge) of Planning and Evaluation Division of BARC, chaired the technical session. NM Zeaul Alam, senior secretary at ICT Division, was present as the chief guest.

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