COVID-19 CoP Digital Solutions

First call CoP Digital Solutions – May 19, 2020

On May 19, 2020, a first meeting was convened by 2SCALE for the Food security and COVID-19 Community of Practice on Digital solutions. Present at this initial meeting were representatives from: 2SCALE, GAIN, NSO, RVO, Wageningen University and Research (WUR), BOP Innovation Center, SNV, the Netherlands Food Partnership and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinFA). This first meeting was aimed at kick-starting the Digital Community of Practice through general introductions, gaining understanding of current activities being undertaken in the respective organizations, and sharing information. Furthermore, it was considered whether other organizations or individuals should be invited to join this initiative, and the framing of the topic of this specific Community of Practice was discussed.

In the course of the discussion several points of interest were raised and some guidelines were provided to further define where action could take place and what to focus on. The following provides a short overview of the discussions and outcomes.

  • Organizations involved in the Community of Practice Digital Solutions have already undertaken first steps in restructuring and reallocating activities, have proposed new activities and/or have started collecting data and information in their programmes that they are willing to share.
  • To be able to come to action, it was suggested to further frame the Community of Practice around the five categories presented in the CTA report on digitalization of agriculture; Advisory & Information services, Market linkages, Supply chain management, Financial access, and Macro agricultural intelligence.
  • Although the framing captures everything it is still quite broad to translate directly into action. Interest was presented to specifically include topics such as: information flows inclusivity of digitalization and digital tools; possibilities where digital can potentially support a reduction in spreading of rumors and myths to providing access to simply information; and support to (short) supply chains, including logistics and storage management.
  • Geographical dimensions were also discussed by the participants. This focus will be mostly determined by the countries where current activities are already taking place and where energy is felt for collaboration and action. In this focus it is important to find synergies between the organizations on a country basis; collaboration should be pragmatic.
  • The timeframes in which the Community of Practice wants to define its actions were also discussed. The CoP Digital Solutions, in adherence to the other two Communities of Practice, will focus on three timelines:
  1. Short-term: What can be done tomorrow. This will focus on the coming 6 months or latest end of the year. The activities will be very COVID-19 driven.
  2. Mid-term: Focused on the coming year, paying attention to issues such as information exchange concerning cropping seasons and ensuring farmers can produce food.
  3. Long-term: Taking a more systemic approach and looking at digital tools for food systems in the future. Here the timeline looks at the next 2 to 3 years.
  • As this Community of Practice focus on digital solutions might overlap with some of the activities and needs of partners in the other Communities of Practice, GAIN and Netherlands Food Partnership will ensure linkages will be made where possible.
  • During the meeting it was agreed to share any available knowledge and resources with Netherlands Food Partnership as they will provide an online overview of this information to ensure a good overview of what is available.
  • The next meeting will take place in the following two to three weeks.