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Meeting the food challenge

Meeting future food demands will put pressure on producers and distributors. A new information system ensures they can face up to the challenges.

Digital Economy

With global population increases unlikely to level off, the demand for food production is already unprecedented and will continue to increase. This will put intense pressure on agricultural industries and associated sectors such as retail and logistics. Meeting the coming challenges will require coordination and up to date information, both of which are currently lacking. 'A common data exchange system for agricultural systems' (AGRIXCHANGE) is an EU-project established to address these needs. AGRIXCHANGE is a diverse consortium comprised of academic institutions, farmers and agribusiness companies. It aims to develop new ways of sharing information and expertise in order to make agribusiness more sustainable, efficient and economical. The project's key activity has been a comprehensive analysis of the information exchange capacity among EU Member States, plus Switzerland. It found an expected wide variability in organisation and communication, ranging from essentially none to highly sophisticated, but also several consistent trends. These included an ageing population of farmers, which means lack of adaptation to communications technologies. This means a need for improved telecommunications/data infrastructure in rural areas. There is also the potential for developing countries to skip outdated infrastructure and go directly to advanced mobile systems. A second key activity has been the development of a reference framework. Central to this is the new aXtool, intended to incorporate the reference framework design into existing AGRIXCHANGE structures. It is a content-management system designed to strictly guide the contribution of information while also making that information easy to share. Further fostering information exchange, AGRIXCHANGE developed a web platform containing information about the project, which also facilitates collaboration on various standards and issues of the project. A LinkedIn group also helps discussion. Project members hosted four workshops, embedded in well-attended broader conferences, allowing productive collaboration with other EU projects and other related organisations. In addition, AGRIXCHANGE is collaborating with various European standardisation organisations, facilitating contact with global standards organisations. These efforts have resulted in good progress towards a standardised system for European agriculture. With that in place, European organisations may be better equipped to work together to provide the extra food capacity that will soon be needed.

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