The potential of digital technologies in the agricultural sector to enhance its sustainability and economic performance and to enhance working conditions has been acknowledged. The uptake of digital technologies in the agricultural sector and the development of supplementing data-technology-based solutions in the EU are increasing. However, there is hardly comprehensive, independently collected data about the actual uptake and use of digital technologies by farmers, the trade of sector-related digital technologies, and about the extent and structure of the provision of digital and data services in the agri-food supply chain, which is of global outreach.
To the same time, policies and the regulatory framework directly or indirectly influencing the deployment of digital and data technologies in the EU is evolving in a fast pace and will continue to do so.[[See, e.g. the announcements in the Digital package published by the European Commission in February 2020, and the Data Strategy in the package, in particular. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/building-european-data-economy.]] Also trade regimes are continuously changing. For stakeholder in the agricultural and the digital sector to invest in digital and data technologies, it is important to be able to assess the possible implications of changing regulatory and market conditions on the development, purchase and use of digital and data technologies in the agricultural sector.
An increase in information on markets and on the actor networks, and of the storage and the flows of goods and data, increases transparency, strengthens the consumers`/ users` position and boost competition.
Capacities in modelling and in carrying out foresight analyses for the development of markets and of the situation in the agricultural sector is also one pre-requisite for tailored policy-making.
Proposals should cover all of the following aspects:
- Development of innovative approaches to assess the uptake of digital technologies and digital infrastructure (including platforms) in the agricultural sector globally with special attention to the situation in the EU and associated countries;
- Development of innovative approaches to forecast the markets and the uptake of digital technologies and digital infrastructure (including platforms) globally with special attention to the situation in the EU under consideration of fast-changing regulatory framing conditions in the fields of data-, digital and machinery technologies and of agricultural policies;
- Demonstration of the qualitative and quantitative implications for the use of digital and data technologies by farmers and other actors along the supply chain in a way that demonstration results can be steadily adapted to changing framing conditions. Demonstrations should allow for the reflection of scenarios.
Proposals are expected to consider innovation in digital technologies brought onto the market during the life-time of the project. They must implement the multi-actor approach involving targeted stakeholders, including farmers, agri-businesses, policymakers etc. to test demonstration and communication tools. They should also provide a basis for the development of business cases, e.g. for the integration and sharing of databases across entities and infrastructure.
For the assessment of the uptake of digital technologies by farmers, statistic approaches evolving in the EU are to be considered; assessment approaches may vary between continents and regions.