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OrganisationMaynooth University




18 Dec 2017


18 Jan 2018

Project Title

RUR-02-2018: Socio-economic impacts of digitisation of agriculture and rural areas


Regarding RUR-02-2018: Socio-economic impacts of digitisation of agriculture and rural areas, the Commission
notes that the deployment of information and communication technologies induces changes that impact
individuals, societies and the environment in profound and pervasive ways. It correctly points out that
agriculture and rural areas will be changing significantly with the multiplication of devices, their increased
intelligence, autonomous behaviour and connectivity. It also highlights that, alongside the benefits of digital
innovations, there are also challenges, and sometimes threats, that need to be addressed to ensure that
technological innovations go hand in hand with societal needs and expectations.

Given all this, the Commission has called for research on that can clarify the dynamics of the digital revolution
and its net impact on socio-economic challenges that agriculture and rural areas are confronted now and in the
future. Such research would analyse the social and economic impacts of digitisation on agriculture and rural
areas, looking into costs, benefits and possible trade-offs. Analyses along these lines would distinguish the
diversity of agricultural sub-sectors or farming systems and other activities in rural areas, including forest
operations. Work must cover a representative set of different rural contexts that exist across the EU, analysing
the impact of the various policy settings.

Any work programme must fill knowledge gaps on the impacts of digitisation on agriculture and rural areas
regarding at least: (i) employment and quality of life (ii) functioning of markets and value chains (iii)
competitiveness and scalable opportunities for agricultural and rural businesses and (re)deployment of public
services. In addition to work that can take into account the impacts of past and ongoing developments, the need
is for explorations of future scenarios for digitisation in the coming decades, characterising drivers and barriers
which are likely to accelerate or hamper their respective development, as well as their respective impacts. The
Commission is willing to fund projects that use a multi-actor approach, engaging representatives of farmers,
rural businesses or citizens groups and digital technology providers. Early engagement of
public authorities will help guarantee the relevance of the analysis and the uptake of project outcomes.

I have been researching many of these issues over the last year, building on my earlier work in human geography
in general and rural studies in particular. I have a paper forthcoming in Journal of Peasant Studies in which I
tackle many of the issues highlighted above. I believe there is significant scope to develop a project that can
address this societal challenge via a focus on the concept data curation, which is used widely by scholars in the
burgeoning field of critical data studies to capture the iterative and intimate use of data by digital subjects. This
literature on data curation has not sufficiently addressed rural change. A project to tackle RUR-02-2018 could do
so. Itd need to have a wide lens to pay attention to whats taking place in key sites such as Europe and the US
but also key places in the agricultural scene, such as Brazil, Africa, and Asia. Itd succeed if it took seriously the
relationship between food producers (broadly construed to include capital- and labour-intensive farmers and
peasants), ag-tech entrepreneurs, platform firms, civil society, and the state. Such a project could make an
enormous impact. As Amazons purchase of Whole Foods demonstrates, and as a Nestle-Samsung partnership is
taking shape, the digital revolution will change the food sector and rural space more generally. There is
significant scope to use research on rural change to inform broader debates about the digital revolution.

Expertise sought/offered

I would like to become a partner in a proposal. If you are involved in preparing a proposal, please can you
consider contacting me? I am lacing experience in H2020 or FP7 research projects but determined to change that

In terms of this call, I imagine a team of eight lead researchers would suffice, perhaps with three or four
examining sites in Europe, one or two focusing on the US, and the remainder with a specialisation in places such
as Brazil, Ethiopia, or China. Clearly, any such project would need to include social scientists and critical data
scientists; but artists would also be worth considering, especially in the context of Science 2.0 practices and
contemporary dissemination techniques.

Tasks offered/requested

* Perform statistical analyses
* Quality management
* Project management (as Work Package leader / Task leader)

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