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Thursday, 18.04.2024
eGovernment Forschung seit 2001 | eGovernment Research since 2001

In a field in the heart of Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley, a greenhouse isn’t just the simple structure it used to be. It’s now alive with digital sensors connected to the internet, through which a farmer can control the temperature, humidity, light and soil moisture. In the past a lot of earnings would disappear into paying for utility bills and buying fertilizers. Now, it is possible to regulate these inputs through the sensors. If anything needs to be adjusted in the greenhouse, the mobile phone buzzes to alert her. These sensors were particularly useful over the summer when extreme heat and lack of water impacted production from her greenhouse. While other farmers sustained great losses, the digital greenhouse was able to maintain her production at close to last year’s levels. It is a different type of farming now with digital technology. This situation frees up more time for other things such as marketing the produce, spending time with family and improving education and quality of life. Smart sensors based on the internet of things are being installed in greenhouses across Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley.

The Smart Farming for the Future Generations project of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a project closely aligned with the Digital Villages Initiative, which was introduced in the villages of Novkent and Yuksalish in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan in 2023. The Digital Villages Initiative is a flagship programme of FAO aiming to transform at least 1 000 villages around the world into digital hubs. The initiative seeks to foster rural transformation and empower communities through digitalization and participatory approaches to combat hunger, poverty and inequality. The Digital Village Initiative helps farmers access technology to boost production, access rural services and improve livelihoods.

But it’s not just farmers who are getting involved. FAO is also offering training programmes to local young people. A coding camp helped train youth in replicating smart sensor devices. In the culmination of the training programmes, a Digital Villages Hackathon took place in November 2023 yielding an array of innovative agritech solutions to the challenges faced by rural people in the Fergana Valley. "Living labs” allow farmers to exchange information and tips with each other and with experts and innovators, discussing challenges and brainstorming solutions. The continuation of regular collaborative innovation workshops, known as “living labs”, also provides a vital platform for exchange among farmers, experts and innovators.

During these sessions, farmers discuss the challenges they face, for example heating the greenhouse against the biting winter cold. Other topics brainstormed with a range of local actors and experts have included water scarcity, a lack of infrastructure and limited access to reliable extension services. As technologies develop at breakneck speed, farmers look forward to further innovations in areas such as smart irrigation and renewable energy solutions for her greenhouse.

FAO is scaling up the Digital Villages Initiative, in Central Asia and beyond, working closely with rural communities to understand their most pressing problems and desired outcomes, identify the agricultural technologies best suited to the community and support them on their digital transformation journeys.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Carlo Marin

Quelle/Source: European News Agency, 10.01.2024

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