“The changing face of agriculture” report by DEMETER & SmartAgriHubs

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Did you have the chance to read the ‘Changing face of agriculture’ report, co-authored by the EU funded projects SmartAgriHubs and DEMETER? In this inclusive report, the projects’ Gender Task Force dives deep into the relationship between gender, youth and technology.

It is widely known that the agricultural sector is facing numerous environmental and economic challenges, often linked, such as climate change, biodiversity loss,and rising prices of inputs to name but a few. The Changing Faces of Agriculture, goes beyond these well known challenges and explores the pressing issues of the ageing population and gender equality in agriculture and suggests that if equal participation of women across agriculture and rural development is not achieved, the competitiveness of the sector is under further threat. To help readers grasp the significance of the current situation, the report cites data from European Commission’s reports

The alarming gender gap across the sector can be seen in the following statistics:

  • Women represent 30% of the workforce in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, with considerable differences between countries.
    • For example, in Austria, 40% of the agriculture workforce are women, while only 15% in Ireland.
  • Only ⅓ of farms across the EU are managed by women however just 4.2% of farm managers are under the age of 35, and 42% are over 65, so the gender gap could widen in future years.

The report consolidates the findings from a series of webinars and discussions with technology providers, policy makers,scientists and of course, farmers themselves around gender and technology adoption in agriculture. One of the most interesting findings, nevertheless, is that education and training were identified as a key support mechanism to encourage technology adoption. In addition, their research has shown that the most successful ways to achieve the knowledge and technological transfer in agri-tech are:

  • Communities of Practice (a group of people who share a common concern, or an interest in a topic) – 27%
  • On farm demonstrations – 24%
  • Peer to peer exchange – 22%
  • Support/discussion groups – 14%
  • Online forums – 5%
  • Independent agricultural advisors – 5%
  • Formal education – 3%

Of great importance, also, is participants’ perspective regarding the gender and generational gap and when these will be filled. Respondents were split on their thinking: 25% said in the next 10 years, while 20% said in the next 15 years and 30% answered in the next 20 years. A quarter of respondents did however indicate that they do not think that an equal gender and generational agriculture sector will ever be achieved.

Read the whole report with useful information regarding the agricultural sector and its close relation with gender, youth and technology.

A few words about DEMETER and SmartAgriHubs projects:

H2020 DEMETER: is a large-scale deployment of farmer-driven, interoperable smart farming-IoT (Internet of Things) based platforms, delivered through a series of 20 pilots across 18 countries (15 EU countries). Involving 60 partners, DEMETER adopts a multi-actor approach across the value chain (demand and supply), with 25 deployment sites, 6,000 farmers and over 38,000 devices and sensors being deployed.

SmartAgriHubs: was a €20 M EU project under the Horizon 2020 instrument, and brings together a consortium of well over 164 partners in the European agri-food sector. The project aims to realise the digitisation of European agriculture by fostering an agricultural innovation ecosystem dedicated to excellence, sustainability and success. 

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