Like roads and waterways, the universal taxonomy should be an open sourced infrastructure to serve global public interest, not to dominate
Global Governance by a No-body, November 30, 2021
Global G.A.P’s Kristian Möller has been crystal clear about the challenge of diverging standards, an accident in the making. “We talk about data harmonization, but we also need to talk about standards harmonization.” There are many ecological, climate and ethical standards for food already and many more continue to pop up. This will reduce farmers’ opportunities to do business with a variety of buyers. That is why Möller says, “We need to start thinking and rethinking about how we share data.”

Standards harmonization needs a universal taxonomy guarded by an international body and a basic infrastructure to keep the game. However, that body must be a global authority with only public interests and accepted by the world community and its leaders. It cannot be owned by the interests of globally operating companies or standard setters. It is perhaps best described as having a no-body keep the game, as Foodlog’s Dick Veerman did. Official bodies have jurisdiction and can enforce; the no-body is just respected because it sides with rationality and does so in public space in the interest of all. Like roads and waterways, it should be an open sourced infrastructure to serve global public interest, not to dominate.

In the absence of a global authority that is aware of the powers unleashed by the digitization of food, can a no-body to guard the interests of the global community be created and will it be trusted?

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Companies today need systems that aren't just good for business. They also need to be good for general wellbeing and the planet
Goodness Paradox, January 25, 2022
You can't have your cake and eat it too. That is logically impossible.

Every decision has consequences and trade-offs in an opposite direction. Take broilers, for example. Better animal welfare implies a slower growing breed, additional space to move around and more feed. Happier chickens emit more CO2 and use more land to the detriment of nature. Alternatively, consider organic or nature inclusive agriculture. They require less pesticides but produce lower outputs and require more land, once again, to the detriment of nature. There many more trade-offs like those.

Companies today need systems that aren't just good for business. They also need to be good for general wellbeing and the planet. Integral product success parameters result in a rapidly upcoming 'goodness paradox', says Hans de Gier, CEO of SyncForce. Consumers tend to have distinct but conflicting ideas about goodness. They will discover they’ll have to choose between having and eating their cake. That’ll change the face of value-driven business propositions.

Both companies and their customers will have to make informed choices based on what they think is most important. “Everything has to be driven by data in order to standardise efficiency and quality," as De Gier puts it, “the foundation for an intelligent value network is a connected, data driven value network." How do we do that?

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Previously on Digital Food this Autumn
Fair Data Policies, September 28, 2021
At farm-level, a large amount of untapped data is generated. Once captured, aggregated and transformed into information, the data produces knowledge that the food chain can turn into value.

However, farmers don’t trust others with their data and typically others will profit more from the data they harvest. In the case that a farmer insists on keeping the data to himself, a lock-in can block value creation.

"The farmer needs to understand the value of the data that is generated from their own farm, and then partner with people that are going to enhance that value even more”, Professor Jacquelyn Boerman (Purdue University) said earlier on this platform.

What is needed is to create trust amongst connected players in the system, such as a genetics firm, a feed company, a poultry plant or an egg packing station. How do we define value allocation models for providing data, transforming them and applying information throughout the entirety of the food chain? Join the conversation about how to fairly distribute the benefits and new revenue created.

Digital billing and data integration realizes a fourfold advantage. Wouldn’t it finally be time to help farmers create a digital dashboard?
Digital Dashboard at a Farm Level, October 26, 2021
As it competes with natural space, agriculture holds a large, if not the largest, share of the food chain’s environmental impact. Business partners further down the chain want to be sure everything complies with the standard the consumer expects to be met. In the digital age, detailed accountability will become ever more important. Farmers that can deliver trust by transparency hold a competitive advantage.

Farmers purchase a wide range of inputs, like seeds, fertilizer, feed and crop protection. The bills tell the full story of the farm’s operation. Yet they are typically administrated by hand. That’s extremely time-consuming, costly and misses out on a blatant opportunity.

Digital billing and data integration realizes a fourfold advantage. It reduces administrative costs significantly, reduces the control costs of food authorities and certifiers, produces instant accountability and creates trusted transparency to attract buyers. And so, wouldn’t it finally be time to help farmers create a digital dashboard? The idea has long been promoted by WUR-economist Dr Krijn Poppe. In the age of digitalization, it’s time to take the farmer's digital dashboard more seriously.

Have you missed out on our Spring programme? We have talked about why CO2 offsetting will not solve our climate problem. Go see the chat about commercial opportunities of storytelling. Moderator Tiffany Tsui discussed with her panel of African experts about challenges to organize trust, capital, and infrastructure for African smallholder entrepreneurs.

You can watch all episodes on our Youtube channel and read about them on AgriFoodNetworks.