New ITU focus group boosts digitization of agriculture worldwide

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has created a new focus group to explore the digitization of agriculture. The new focus group "AI and IoT for Digital Agriculture" (FG-AI4A) aims to work closely with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) using new digital technologies to make the global agriculture sector fit for the future. Dr.-Ing. Sebastian Bosse, group leader of the "Interactive & Cognitive Systems" group in the "Vision and Imaging Technologies" department at Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) will chair the focus group.


By 2050, nearly 10 billion people will live on this planet, according to calculations by the United Nations. To ensure an equitable and secure food supply despite this population increase, we need to transform agricultural practices and technologies across the globe. To this end, the ITU, together with the FAO, has established the new focus group “FG-AI4A” to explore the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) in agriculture in order to identify standardization gaps and scalability opportunities. The global initiative is creating a platform that provides open access to digital innovations for all stakeholders in the agricultural sector from science, industry and practitioners.

For this purpose, the focus group will examine the potential of novel technologies for agriculture in a variety of use cases. These include, for example, data acquisition and processing, agricultural data modeling, and AI-based decision support to optimize agricultural processes. AI, IoT, connected services, and autonomous systems enable agricultural stakeholders to tailor decisions, such as fertilizer application or medical examinations, to individual crops or to individual animals. This precision enables more effective interventions, making agriculture more sustainable by helping to produce more using fewer resources.

"Our focus group is tackling the major challenges facing agriculture in the future with a solution-oriented, intelligent and, above all, global approach. Global networking is essential in the search for use cases, best practices and relevant standardization gaps. In addition to its technical expertise, Fraunhofer HHI will support this project through specific experience in digitized agriculture. A good example of this is our BMWi-funded project NaLamKI. In NaLamKI, we are working with partners from industry and science to examine the use of AI for sustainable crop farming. Together, we are developing intelligent methods along the entire agricultural process chain," says Chairman Dr.-Ing. Sebastian Bosse. The focus group will put special emphasis on applications in developing countries, where people's livelihoods depend heavily on agriculture. In fact, these are also the countries where digital solutions will have the greatest impact in making agriculture more sustainable and resilient.

Practical implementation of the focus group's work will support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The potential of AI and IoT in agriculture can contribute to reducing poverty and hunger. At the same time, it will promote dignified work, economic growth, infrastructure, sustainable consumption and climate protection.

To prepare for the first group meeting in March 2022, the focus group will recruit experts who can provide valuable perspectives to future focus group meetings through ITU "AI4Good" seminars, hosted by the chairs, in the coming weeks.