The Program Officer for Triangular South-South Cooperation, Dina López, highlighted that this event was held within the framework of the triangular South-South cooperation project promoted by CELAC, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and FAO.
The meeting brought together various specialists in the area at the regional level, including Rodrigo Radiszcz, a specialist in digital transformation and innovation, who presented the options that could be applied, according to the gaps that have been detected in the territorial diagnoses, to turn them into solutions that tend to the needs of the territories through demonstrative pilots that the Project will promote.
Radiszcz recalled that one of the difficulties to be overcome in the rural world is the lack of access to a quality broadband connection. He said that currently, “very low-cost satellite connections that open up a world of opportunities for cooperatives, without any extra infrastructure, in addition to the LoRA networks and the Danish coverage extension antennas.”
He assured that if the implementation of the Internet in rural areas is achieved, based on the organizational capacities of family farmers’ cooperatives, it could be used for the development of “innovative technologies such as sensors for climate monitoring, probes for irrigation, drones for detecting problems related to production, as well as the development of smart contracts, social networking strategy, digital assemblies, product traceability and logistics.”
Likewise, Radiszcz considered that if all this were to materialize in the future, the region could advance towards robotic automation of autonomous processes, data visualization, predictions and better decision-making” in the face of the planetary structural crises.
Leonel Tapia, coordinator and specialist of the FAO-China-Celac project, said that “the goal is to implement 12 pilot solutions in as many countries by 2023, in micro and small rural family farming enterprises, to mark a starting point that will lead to the future development of the sector.
He explained that six pilot plans to promote e-commerce and other solutions to support family farmers are expected to be implemented in Barbados, Barbados, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago: Barbados, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and other countries. In addition to the pilot, the rest of the nations will have extra activities to support related areas such as tourism, financial and social services, “seeking collective solutions to current challenges.
Dulclair Sternadt, FAO associativity officer in Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasized the need to achieve digitization through “an intersectoral and inter-institutional approach with participatory construction of cooperatives, in a joint and collaborative work.”
In the same vein, Ignacio Moncayo, coordinator of cooperative agendas and associativity of the FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that cooperatives are the best way to promote these digital villages because they are “efficient, inclusive, sustainable and resilient because their scale makes them more adaptable to changes or to face economic crises in a better way.”
Moncayo gave figures to support his arguments. He pointed out that 71,000 cooperatives in Latin America and the Caribbean currently generate 2 million direct jobs, making them ideal tools to move toward digital transformation.
The activity was attended virtually by the focal points of the 12 countries in the region participating in the triangular South-South cooperation project; specialists from Colombia, Ecuador; in addition to Digital Village consultants from Uruguay, Chile, Panama, Cuba, Jamaica and Costa Rica, who are in the process of planning the pilots of the 1000 Digital Villages project.
The workshop “Digital transformation and cooperatives in Latin America and the Caribbean” is one more of the efforts made by the technical team of the project “Response and recovery to the impact of Covid-19 on rural livelihoods and food systems in CELAC countries through South-South Cooperation”.
FAO’s Role in South-South and Triangular Cooperation
The successful implementation of FAO’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSC) in many countries has contributed to increased food security, primarily through improved agricultural productivity, diversification of food crops, fish and small animal production and rural incomes.
In 2009, the FAO-China SSC Program was established and the project mentioned above is part of this program.