Since its sparse beginnings in the 1960s, Almeria’s agriculture has successively incorporated available technologies that have increased production and resulted in greater market value. More recently, environmental and social criteria have been incorporated to contribute to the sustainability of its agricultural system. Traditionally, Almería´s farmers organised themselves around a cooperative system that allowed them to access markets, collaborate, and share knowledge. ALMERIA SMARTAGRIHUB is the next step in its history and development where digital farming can help to ensure a sustainable future. The Almería horticultural sector alone represents 25% of Andalusian agricultural GDP, provides work for more than 65,000 people, with an annual turnover of 1,900 million Euros and 2,400 million Euros in the agricultural auxiliary and services sector. Intensive Mediterranean agriculture is also located in ecosystems where wise use of inputs and farming practices are fundamental to the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of a biodiverse natural landscape. Much depends on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of this Mediterranean intensive F&V sector.
Necessity for Almería SmartAgriHub
Digital technologies and business models are dramatically changing farming in Europe. Digital technologies, such as Cloud Computing, Internet of Things, Big Data, Blockchain, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, enable a transformation into data-driven, intelligent, agile and autonomous farm operations that are seamlessly integrated in the food chain up to the end consumer. These key technologies are generally considered to address the grand challenges for agriculture such as assuring a safe and sustainable provision of quality food, fostering resource efficiency, combating climate change and – lately – developing the circular economy. However, key actors have been overlooked in Digital Agriculture, particularly the farmer. Despite the overwhelming interest of tech companies, investors, and policymakers, the adoption rate of Digital Agriculture is still limited. In most EU member states there is a consistent, but small group of farmers that are frontrunners in this field, which are often seen as role models for other farmers. However, the majority of farmers do not yet adopt digital technologies or only invest in proven and tangible technologies. The current impact of digitalization is below its true potential. For this reason, Almería SmartAgriHub has been established, to provide farmers and agri businesses with the means to coordinate and control their own sustainable digital agricultural futures.