Peter Paree, agriculture advisor for ZLTO and Arable Trial ecosystem chair for IoF2020 describes how has COVID-19 affected the arable sector. The virus posed short-term and long-term challenges: For instance, sector resilience, field labor, storage, quality standards of products and the consequences of crisis on potato markets. IoF2020 use cases had to face these difficulties and search how IoT could be used for helping the sector and improve things. This led to the implementation of solutions that will outlive the crisis, such as product traceability and retail orders solutions. A message for policy makers?
IoF2020 Dairy Ecosystem Chair Kees Lokhorst explains how the COVID-19 has impacted the dairy sector. The impact on the Dairy sector was quite limited. The consumption of dairy product was maintained at a regular pace thanks to very efficient market actors. The international trade of Dairy, although potentially affected by border closures, managed to apply preventive conservation measures to limit the impact. The IoF2020 use cases being composed of start-ups and SMEs collaborating cross-borders, they truly suffered from travel restrictions have responded to the challenges with innovative solutions. They had to reorganize their market channels quickly. Remote contacts used in IoF2020 made it easier for dairy sector actors, it’s a success for IoT use!
Vincenzo Verrastro, agronomic engineer at the IAMB is invited in his quality of Fruit Trial chair for IoF2020. He gives us an overview of the way that the Covid crisis impacted the fruit sector. Not only in terms of production but also in terms of distribution and consumption. An unexpected consequence for instance was a change in the consumer behaviour: the quality of food was no longer a privileged criterion. Consumers wanted to get their food as quickly as possible and not spend time in the alleys in examining fruit quality. Also, with the restrictions of moves that affected the citizens, they required to have food with extended shelf life to avoid frequent supply runs. How was IoT technology and IoF2020 use cases able to help and propose solutions for these challenges?
Cristina Micheloni, senior researcher at AIAB represents the Vegetable Trial within IoF2020. She comes back on the main issues that the sector had to face and how the producers found the way to overcome the difficulties. For instance, a huge share of the vegetable production was not able to be sold on the open markets due to COVID-19 restrictions. This led to significant food waste of fresh products, next to that, the production was also impacted by the lack of seasonal workers which were unable to cross the closed borders. IoF2020 use cases have continued the work and tried to identify solutions for some of the challenges. For instance, the remote quality control for certification of products and food traceability.
Evi Lippens, researcher at ILVO and representing the IoF2020 Meat Trial explains the challenges affecting the Meat sector and makes connections with the solutions found by the IoF2020 use cases to overcome these challenges.
For instance, the meat demand was greatly impacted by the COVID-19 as restaurants stopped their activity. This caused the meat producers to find solutions for avoiding food waste. A safe and affordable storage, new platforms to get in touch with customers, etc… at the same time, livestock continues to live and therefore continues to need veterinarian services and feed. The technologies developed in IoF2020 meat trial use cases proven themselves efficient to maintain a good welfare of livestocks: remote monitoring of vital characteristics and predictive restocking of feed are just a couple of example.