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Vol 8 - Issue 4

Technology and Innovation

List of Articles

Digitalization in the food system and transitions
Delphine Gallaud

The current food system is reaching its limits of economic, environmental and social sustainability. It has a high environmental impact, contributing to more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. It also has social consequences on the health of consumers, due to the over-consumption of processed products, which leads to an increase in global obesity, cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Like the entire economy, the food system is currently affected by the spread of digital techniques, i.e. robotization, the internet of things, connected objects, big data. The blockchain technique is also finding a favorable field of application because the food system has, since the 1980s, been part of global value chains. The issue of product traceability and the possibility of strengthening our ability to provide proof for claims, as part of the corporate social responsibility strategy of companies, favor its diffusion. These techniques are meant to bring about a new industrial revolution, allowing production systems to evolve into so-called 4.0 systems. Their promoters also attribute to them an ability to remedy the limits of sustainability, in particular environmental ones. The objective of this article is to analyze their diffusion in the food system and their effects. Are they really able to fix sustainability issues or, on the contrary, will they contribute to blocking the emergence of alternative trajectories, by reinforcing the trajectory of the current system and by creating socio-technical lock-in effects?

AI for agricultural, technological innovations? A revolution!
Didier Lebert

To what extent is artificial intelligence (AI), in its many applicable fields, transforming the ways to innovate? In order to identify the technological trajectory inflections and paradigmatic shifts that innovations in this field generate in agriculture, we propose an original method based on network analysis. Using patent date, we apply this method to the 2013–2019 period. We show that AI plays a driving role in the transformation of innovation processes in agriculture, in connection with the challenges that now arise in crop management.

Digitalization of farms – Determinants and impacts of the adoption of digital innovations
Isabelle Piot-Lepetit, Mauro Florez, Karine Gauche

In order to better understand the determinants and impacts of the adoption of digital technologies in the agricultural sector, this article features a double literature review. The first review is an exploration of the theoretical frameworks that would allow for the adoption of new technologies, and proposes an analysis framework – the Technological Adoption and Appropriation (T2A) model – describing the adoption process in 3 stages: (1) a discovery phase, (2) an adoption phase, and (3) a use and appropriation phase. These stages are characterized by 4 determinants: individual, organizational, technological, and contextual. The adoption process unfolds over time, and can be continued or stopped at any stage. The second literature review illustrates the importance of the individual and organizational factors at each stage of the adoption process in agriculture, leading to a variety of digitalization trajectories. Individual and technological factors influence stage 1 (discovery), while stages 2 (adoption) and 3 (use) are also impacted by organizational and contextual factors.

Blockchain, supply chains and the sustainability of agrifood systems: What are the impacts? An illustration based on case studies
Florent Saucède, Isabelle Piot-Lepetit

Blockchain is a digital technology that is said to have the potential to meet the needs of supply chains regarding traceability and transparency. It is also said to address sustainability issues such as reducing environmental impact, verifying working conditions and food quality, and improving the remuneration of the actors involved. The literature on this subject presents various arguments on the potential of blockchain, with very little empirical evidence. The purpose of our investigation is to discern what really drives the adoption of this technology, as well as to discover the impacts observed by participants. To do so, we have conducted a literature review on case studies on the subject of blockchain development for supply chains. In order to characterize the decisional factors leading to the development of blockchain as well as the advantages and disadvantages of its implementation, articles were analyzed according to different internal and external components of agri-food systems. We break down the influence of blockchain regarding the activities of agri-food systems and their socio-economic and environmental consequences, as well as their influence on food security.

The student citizen convention: What is the impact on the horizontalization of the decision-making process and the food system of the University of Paris Est Créteil?
Emilie Frenkiel, Hajar El Karmouni

The student citizens’ convention (SCC) is a democratic experiment that aims to give students a voice on complex issues. The first SCC organized at Paris Est Créteil University focused on food, with a systemic approach integrating environmental, health, political, economic and social issues. Its mandate was to define a series of measures that would allow an alternative food system on campus. By participating in this decision-making process, students were taking part in a process of horizontalization to resolve an imperfectly satisfied need. In this article, we first describe the SCC as a participatory assembly for collective reflection and action (notably through the open deliberation process). We analyze the process of deliberation construction and the proposals for an alternative food system. Finally, we analyze the implementation of the horizontalization process as well as the conditions necessary for the SCC to succeed. We base our analysis on the proposals formulated over the course of the SCC, the exchanges on the online platform dedicated to citizen deliberation (Decidim), pre- and post-module questionnaires and semi-directive interviews to which the students responded.

Contribution of decentralized participatory breeding to varietal innovation capability: Upland rice in Madagascar
Fanilo Ny Aina Ramanitrinizaka, Kirsten vom Brocke, Lolona Ramamonjisoa, Landiarimisa Ramanankaja, Alain Ramanantsoanirina, Ludovic Temple

In the context of tropical agriculture, the low uptake of new varieties proposed by agricultural research pushes forward the need to implement decentralized participatory breeding (DPB) programs. However, the performance of these programs remains poorly documented. We pose the hypothesis that this is linked to the generation of different resources when activating collective innovation abilities. This test is methodologically informed by a survey in the framework of a DPB program on upland rice in the Central Highlands of Madagascar, in the Vakinakaratra region. The results reveal changes in production systems linked to participation in the DPB program (use of other types of fertilization, application of squared sowing techniques to make weeding easier) and the reuse of newly tested varieties. The results also confirm the strengthening of social interactions through the creation of a farmers’ organization. Finally, they characterize the main innovation capabilities, which have been strengthened – in particular those that lead one to understand the complexity of systems and that teach us how to act collectively.