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Draft of SRA ‘Common Basis for policy making for introduction of innovative approaches on data exchange in agri-food industry’

The objective of this report is to provide a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) which reflects the business demands for utilisation of ICT and exchange of agriculture information supported by current standardization, but also by future research in ICT for agri-food industry. It reflects the needs of the agriculture business.  The focus of the SRA is on identifying major ICT challenges related to the utilization of ICT and information standards in agriculture and agri-food industry sector.
The agenda defines not only the necessary ICT standards, but also in broader view the Research and Technology Development (RTD) areas which will be selected as key priorities in order to achieve the challenges identified. The wide deployment of knowledge management, which will include ICT technologies, exchange of information and utilization of ICT standards  specifically oriented to the agri-food industry, will support the transformation of agriculture production into competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy as well as facilitating the participation and ultimately the complete integration of the EU agriculture production into the Knowledge Society.
The SRA is mainly focused on the KBBE and ICT programmes within the FP7, but it is based on activities on regional and cross-regional level as well as within other EU programmes and initiatives. It is critical to follow the main trends, but also cooperation with the main industry and ICT players involved. The definition of the SRA required a deep knowledge of previous activities, state of the art in agri-food ICT area, but also consultations with representatives from industry, governments, agencies, operators, and agri-food authorities and stakeholders involved in rural development in all Member States. The discussions with stakeholders during events such as the GeoFARMatics conference in Cologne or the EFITA congress in Prague played an important role.
Currently, the first version of the SRA document is presenting the draft strategic lines that, after validation (mainly planned for the Smart Agrimatics conference), will support all domain stakeholders in the process of implementing a number of specific measures to achieve the stated objectives.

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We can recognize a list of challenges, which has to be reflected by future farming knowledge management systems. We can name the following challenges for future:

1. To include ICT and knowledge management for agri-food and rural communities generally as a vital part of the ICT policies and initiatives (for example Digital Agenda for Europe 2020). Previous analysis in this report demonstrated that there exists an ICT gap between urban and rural. This gap is more visible in developing countries, but also in Europe, North America, East Asia and other countries. Newly coming solutions such as the single digital market, future internet, globalization of knowledge, social media and networks, protection of data and open access to information will be essential for farming and rural communities. Knowledge becomes one of the most important products and also material. If there is no equal access to knowledge by rural communities, the urban rural gap will grow and negative trends will continue e.g. abandonment of rural areas.
2. To find a balance between food safety and security, energy production and environment production – As it was mentioned in previous chapter, current agriculture and food production is subject to many different requirements. On one side, worldwide growing population brings new demands on food, but also on arable land, water, energy and other biological resources. There is a growing demand for energy and production costs of energy. On the other side, there exist requirements of citizens and markets on higher quality of food production, but also on new products. It is related with aging population in some part of the world, but also with ethnical and cultural changes (migration of population). All of them have a strong influence on global ecosystem and environment generally. The influence is bi-directional and some issues like climatic changes, draughts, floods etc. have also large influence on production. We need to find a model of sustainable agriculture production based on synergies and trade-offs across the economic, environmental and social impacts. This will require tofind new methods of production, but also increasing the level of involvement of citizens in the agri-food value chain.
3. Support better transfer of RTD results and innovation into everyday life of farmers, food industry and other rural communities - As the analysis in Chapter I demonstrated, there is well visible progress worldwide in roll out of basic communication infrastructure. But the take up of new innovative rural solutions is not so fast and in many cases, there is a low transfer of RTD results and innovation into practice. To be able to react on future demands, the fast innovation transfer is necessary. It requires more parallel actions, like better interaction between support for RTD, innovation and implementation activities (in European scale Framework program and Leader activities for example), user demand on research priority, focus on long time of sustainability of founded research, but also support for training and awareness. Training of rural communities will be essential for adoption of new solutions and technologies. There is also necessary to stimulate open and public scientific debate about such controversial themes such as bio energy production or genetic modified production.
4. To accelerate bottom up activities as a driver for local and regional development – aBard and DG Agri studies recognised as the key success factors for development of rural regions local activities and existence of local champions. This could be:
a. (local actors who are not interested in technology but take up the role for the greater good of the communities they live in,
b. younger and higher educated people moving to the rural areas, who wanted to have the a level of services as in cities,
c. local business with clear innovative and knowledge based growing strategy that needs an access and sharing of knowledge,
d. people moving to a rural area and wishing to engage in e-enabled,
e. people who have holiday homes in the rural area, that want similar broadband access similar to cities and other activities.
f. Existence of such champions has the same influence as subsidies on local and regional development. The experience demonstrated that in almost all projects there were no strong bottom-up interests. In order to support this we have to increase the areas in which rural industries and citizens find social spaces and collaborative working environments supporting local networking and initiatives.
5. Making rural regions as an attractive place to live, invest and work, promoting knowledge and innovation for growth and creating more and better jobs - Abandonment of cultivated land has been increasing in many regions of the world. In several parts of Europe, the opposite trend exists with people moving back to countryside, but without returning to agriculture production. The number of people working in agriculture decreased in some countries to 2% of the country population. To attract people back to rural regions, it is necessary to improve infrastructure, possibilities of employment, culture, education, etc. It includes spatial planning, improvement of situation of local and regional SME industries with focus on agri-food industry but also on local production and tourism.
6. Build new ICT model for sharing and use of knowledge in rural regions. Currently we can recognise more shifts of technologies to web-based and mobile solutions, cloud computing, open access to context, social media, collaborative platforms and business intelligence. Building such solutions will not only help rural communities, but will open also new business opportunities for the local and regional ICT industry through development of new applications and tools to support the European agri-food and rural sector. Participation of local ICT SMEs on development and implementation of local applications will play an important role in regional development.

Currently, we recognise the following priorities for research domain for Agriculture, Food, Rural development and Environment:
• Collaborative environments and trusted sharing of knowledge and supporting innovations in agri-food and rural areas, especially supporting food quality and security - The concept of the trust centres has to represent an integrated approach to guarantee the security aspects for all participants in the future farm. There will be a growing importance of protection of privacy and IPR. Trust of information is one from the priorities for all rural communities. Pan European social networks have to support trust centres and enable such technologies as cloud applications and which will have to guarantee knowledge security. [11]
• ICT applications for the complete traceability of production, products and services throughout a networked value chain including logistics - to develop world-class network management solutions that facilitate communication and co-operation between networks of SMEs and large enterprises in the agri-food and rural development domains. These solutions will enable the management of food supply chains/networks, virtual and extended enterprises through collaboration and knowledge exchange. [11]
• New generation of applications supporting better and more effective management of agriculture production and decision making in agriculture - Future farm knowledge management systems have to support not only direct profitability of farms or environment protection, but also activities of individuals and groups allowing effective collaboration among groups in agri-food industry, consumers and wider communities, especially in rural domain. Having these considerations in mind, the proposed vision lays the foundation for meeting ambitious but achievable operational objectives that will definitively contribute to fulfil identified needs in the long run. [11]
• ICT applications supporting the management of natural resources - With better understanding of the environmental relations, the necessary valuation of ecological performances will become possible. Pilot projects and best practice samples will be the key to demonstrate for a wide auditorium the benefits of environmental caretaking. New model of payment of the different groups of beneficiaries have to be worked out (local, regional, national, continental and worldwide) as well as the best practice between today’s "government owned" environment or "private owned with social responsibilities" has to be worked out [11]
• ICT applications supporting agri-food logistic – the focus has to be on the transportation and distribution of food, sharing online monitoring information from trucks during the transport of cargo, a flexible solution for on-demand dock reservation and an integrated freight and fleet management. In general, all the selected applications have the same practical benefits as cost reduction, better coordination and better information for decision making, and the proactive control of processes leading to increasing efficiency and effectiveness [43].
• ICT application supporting rural development and local businesses - Rural businesses are usually small or medium size businesses according to the number of people they employ. Therefore, knowledge management and internal processes are different from large companies. Future knowledge systems have to be based on each community’s own concepts of value, cultural heritage and a local vision of a preferred future. The objective is to develop human-centred reference models of sustainable rural life-styles that overcome social divisions and exclusion and include unique rural features and create new rural businesses and social infrastructures and attractive computer-based education.
• ICT application for education and awareness – Agriculture will require highly educated staff. There will be large shift from manual work to knowledge management. It will be necessary to provide effective knowledge transfer to as many people as possible, through a range of services and to meet the diverse knowledge and information needs of our customers and stakeholders and incorporating management practices and technologies on the home farm, supervised project work and discussion groups: linkages with higher level education institutions.
• ICT applications reducing administrative burdens in rural areas - Future ICT applications have to reduce the administrative burden of enterprises and citizens in rural areas by reducing the information elicitation process of businesses when they want to use a particular instance of some public service, or making more effective use of the resources. It has to include, adapt and deploy a web infrastructure combining semantic services with a collaborative training and networking approach, in the rural setting. Furthermore it should include e-Government services that regional public authorities already offer and support them by a rigorous and reusable service process analysis and modelling, and then deploy a semantic service that facilitates the disambiguation of the small businesses needs and requirements when trying to use the particular services. At the same time, the semantic service is complemented by a number of other web-based services that support the creation of communities of learning and practice in rural settings, thus facilitating the communication between the rural businesses with the regional public authorities. [29]

This list cannot be complete, but we would like to use this initial list as a basis for further discussion.

The development of knowledge-based systems for the farming sector has to be supported by ICT focused on:
• Future Internet and Internet of things including sensor technology, cloud computing and machine to machine communication - Future Internet architectures must reflect the needs and specificity of rural communities. It has to be resilient, trustworthy and energy-efficient and designed to support open access and increasing heterogeneity of end-points. Networks should sustain a large number of devices, many orders of magnitude higher than the current Internet, handle large irregular information flows and be compatible with ultra- high capacity, end-to-end connectivity.
• Service Oriented Architecture as a key element of architectures for future knowledge management systems. Service Oriented Architectures have to provide methods for systems development and integration where systems group functionality around business processes and package these as interoperable services.
• Methods of knowledge management including aspects of interoperability. It is important to support the development of machine-readable legislation, guidelines and standards to integrate management information systems with policy tools. Major priorities for future knowledge systems will be the integration and orchestration among services based on semantic integration of collaborative activities, including semantic compatibility for information and services, as well as ontologies for collaboration.
• Semantic models, multilingualism, vocabularies and automatic translation – The understanding of terms was recognised by AgriExchange and also by SmartAgrifood, as one from big problems for implementing interoperability. So the focus on common understanding and vocabularies is very extremely important. Other large problem is multilingualism. Rural citizens in many countries usually are able to speak and write only by their mother language. Language is a large barriers, methods of automatic translation has to be developed.
• Management and accessibility of geospatial information as a key information source for any decision. Geospatial information includes not only digital maps, ortophotos or satellite imagery, but also location services and sensors. Importance of geospatial information will become more and more important and its amount will rapidly grow with new sensors technologies. Effective methods of management, accessibility and analysis will be important. Open access to data will be important.
• Open Source development - Open Source development can bring a lot of advantages not only for research, but also for commercial community. Open source can help to users (private and public) and for all IT sector. The future will give more opportunity for open solutions and also for smaller flexible companies, which will be able to adopt their behaviour and react on new situation. Other important issue is large international cooperation of small companies and not only inside of one country.
• New modelling methods – new modelling methods will become in future more important. Their importance will be not only in application like precision farming, but also in long time planning and decision making. It will require growing computing capacity to introduce methods including linear programming or theory of game.
• The power of social networks and social media - The future development of technology has to be based on a broader utilisation of social networks and social media.