A woman farmer in Nepal. Photo: World Bank
While digital technologies have significant potential they also pose several risks that need to be addressed.
Digital technologies have significant potential to improve efficiency, equity, and environmental sustainability in the food system. A range of digital technologies are already leading to: better informed and engaged consumers and producers, smarter farms, and improved public services.
According to a World Bank report, adoption of digital technologies varies significantly across countries, with lower current adoption rates in low-income countries. Increasing adoption will require addressing supply-side factors, such as rural network coverage and availability of digital applications, and demand-side factors, including skills and knowledge, trust, affordability, and complementary investments.
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While digital technologies have significant potential they also pose several risks that need to be addressed including: an overconcentration of service provider market power; lack of data privacy; exclusion; and cybersecurity breaches.
These risks cut across all segments of the economy, including the food system. In addition, digital technologies should not be viewed as a panacea. Other investments are needed to address the multiple constraints farmers face and to realize the potential benefits of digital technologies.