Bosnia and Herzegovina prepares for digital transformation in agriculture with support from FAO
25 November 2021
Bosnia and Herzegovina has started the digital transformation of agriculture. As part of this process, representatives of the government, agricultural producers, extension service providers, academia, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) companies met in Konjic municipality on 24 November to endorse the framework document for the country’s future e-agriculture strategy. The strategic document is the result of the methodical work conducted by FAO.
The workshop was part of the FAO project “Building the grounds of e-agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina” and provided an opportunity to present and discuss key findings and recommendations of a national sectoral analysis, together with a wide range of proven solutions – or good practices – in the use of digital technologies in agriculture.
“FAO is fully committed to provide any required technical assistance for further technical harmonization of the country’s existing and new agricultural information systems in line with the European Union’s acquis communautaire standards and requirements,” emphasized Nabil Gangi, FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia.
The framework document, approved by workshop participants, includes the national e-agriculture vision, key priorities, and proposed actions. Recommendations focus on capacity development programmes on the digitalization of agriculture for younger generations, as well as ICT professionals, civil servants, and employees at education institutions, to improve digital skills. Peer-to peer learning among farmers should be facilitated by implementing ICT solutions on pilot farms. In this regard, the European Union and neighbouring countries should provide further opportunities for knowledge transfer between farms, agri-businesses, and associations. FAO also suggested to improve e-governance for the benefit of rural areas.
The document defines five strategic priorities for developing e-agriculture in Bosnia and Herzegovina; accelerating digital transformation in the public sector, practical use of ICT solutions at farm level, developing digital knowledge and skills at institutional and individual levels, improving digital infrastructure in rural areas, and raising awareness on the benefits of implementing ICT solutions in agriculture.
Furthermore, to support the realization of these goals, participants developed 25 well-defined actions for each of the five strategic priorities. The key recommendations from the final strategy will be incorporated into the country’s future Strategic Plan for Rural Development and other strategic documents.
Good practices in digital agriculture
During the assessment of digital services and solutions in the country, FAO identified over 20 good practices already applied in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Having documented the good practices was the first step to further promote them among farmers and agri-enterprises,” said Sophie Treinen, digital agriculture team leader in the FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. “The best way to demonstrate the benefits of these practices is to show how they are used at farm level.”
Apart from the lack of awareness of the potential benefits of digitalization in agriculture, other barriers can hamper the replication and scaling-up of these technologies, such as low digital literacy and capacity that induce a lack of trust in new innovative technologies.
Among the selected proven practices is Carpo, a plant protection mobile application for fruit producers developed by the public sector. Another tool is the Agrometeorological Web Reporting and Prognostic System of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry funded by UNDP. The system uses observations from various sources and platforms to produce pest and disease forecasts for crops that are cultivated in the country and alerts farmers and users to take necessary actions. Created by the private sector, Farmer.ba is an e-commerce platform offering farm-to-fork solutions for local agricultural products, ensuring a direct connection between farmers and consumers.
The overview of e-agriculture good practices focuses not only on solutions originating from Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also includes solutions initially coming from abroad.