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Cultivating innovation: the future of agriculture in Italy and the UK

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On 20 May the Embassy of Italy hosted “Cultivating innovation: the future of agriculture in Italy and the UK”, a panel discusson on innovation in the agri-food sector. Technology has a critical role to play in helping agriculture to meet the estimated 70% increase in global food production needed to feed more than 9 billion people by 2050. Farmers face the dual challenge of feeding a growing population while safeguarding the environment. Climate change, population growth, and natural resource constraints demand creative solutions that enhance productivity, sustainability, and resilience. As we look to the future, we recognise the need to embrace innovation to address the challenges ahead.

The event, opened by the deputy head of mission, Riccardo Smimmo, brought together experts from Italy and the UK in a lively discussion: Carlo Bisaglia of the Council for Research in Agriculture (CREA), Duncan Ross of the UK Agri-Tech Centre and Alessio Bolognesi of the Italian Agricultural Machinery Manufacturers Federation (FEDERUNACOMA). The discussion was moderated by Roberta Re from the UK Department of Business and Trade.

Technology and innovation, which is transforming the way food is grown and produced, has a broadly recognized importance to face all the challenges and ensure at the same time food security and environmental protection. For instance, the emergence of ‘smart farming’ and data analytics enable precision agriculture, allowing farmers to optimise production by precisely controlling and monitoring the growing conditions. Many other areas are involved in unlocking the growth potential of the agricultural sector, attracting public and private investments: precision agriculture, in particular, holds great promise, then automation and robotics, artificial intelligence  and machine learning, supply chain optimisation, vertical farming and indoor agriculture, drones and earth observation technologies, biotechnology, water management technologies, livestock genetics and veterinary science.

The talk was organised under the guidance of the Embassy’s Agrifood Attaché, Gabriella Manfredi, in partnership with the UK Department of Business and Trade and the UK Embassy in Rome. It was followed by a field trip to Agriepicentre and Harpers Adams University, for a delegation of Italian and British experts, from institutions, business and research centres.