Home » World Food Day » Digital farming solutions: how to adopt ‘win-win’ approach to sustainable agriculture

Sidhartha Bhandari

Global Practice Lead, Food and Agriculture, Publicis Sapient

Shailesh Joshi

Managing Partner, Energy & Commodities, Publicis Sapient 

A digitally connected mindset in agriculture is key to implementing sustainable practices across the supply chain and creating shared commercial value for all stakeholders involved. 

Embracing sustainability and pursuing profitability with purpose are essential dimensions of a modern, responsible agribusiness business strategy. This transformative mindset, supported by advancements in digital, data and AI, represents a fundamental reorientation of business priorities that recognise the interconnectedness of economic, social and environmental factors crucial for long-term resilience. 

Helping farmers thrive digitally 

To improve outcomes for farmers, agribusinesses, their customers and the end consumer, digital transformation company Publicis Sapient is empowering agribusinesses globally to reimagine relationships and modernise ways of working across the supply chain while helping to develop sustainable business processes.  

Sid Bhandari, Global Practice Lead, Food and Agriculture, Publicis Sapient says: “Post-pandemic, there has been a renewed focus for agribusinesses globally to understand how sustainability can be at the centre of their business progress. Farmers are crucial in this process to achieve those goals. Given our richness of experience from ‘farm to boardroom,’ we are in the middle of this, helping clients progress on their sustainability goals in a holistic way.”  

For instance, their work with a global commodities trading business, operating in 80 countries for 150+ years, has helped deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for multiple stakeholders across the supply chain. “This involved co-creating a unified farmer-centric digital solution for 20,000 farmers across 17 countries, which enabled farmers to be more effective at commercial arrangements for their commodities while engaging with agribusinesses — be it faster payments, better commodity prices and enhanced inventory visibility,” explains Bhandari. 

Post-pandemic, there has been a renewed
focus for agribusinesses globally to understand
how sustainability can be at the centre
of their business progress.

Sidhartha Bhandari

Getting more out of data to achieve profitability with purpose  

Publicis Sapient helps clients maximise value from their data by examining every aspect of the business to ensure sustainable practices. “For example, a cocoa importer based in EU must certify that every bean is deforestation-free. We partnered with them to meet their immediate goals and inspired the agribusiness to achieve co-benefits like fair wages and no child labour, delivered at an incremental cost to deforestation data,” explains Shailesh Joshi, Managing Partner. 

They also help to provide data analysis on practices and interactions throughout supply chains, so the focus is also to create commercial value for participants. For instance, a big challenge today is to calculate accurate and reliable value of carbon abated in the supply chain. Joshi adds: “We build products and services to measure carbon intensity at various stages of the supply chain — to optimise not just cost but carbon footprint, too. It’s therefore a win-win for sustainability and business.” He cites the example of measuring the effectiveness of regenerative practices for farmers and looking at farming waste.  

AI further levels the playing for farmer inclusion 

Joshi believes artificial intelligence (AI) will become a key technology for future growth and farmer inclusivity. The advancements in generative AI (GenAI) have opened up a host of use cases across precision farming, crop breeding, supply chain, marketing and sales.  

For instance, the agriculture supply chains are marred by manual processes, documentation and emails. According to a study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the agricultural supply chain generates an estimated 1.5 trillion documents and 100 billion emails per year. GenAI is ideal to reduce these and effectively extract information from them to bring efficiencies, cost savings and ease of doing business both for agribusiness and farmers. 

As the technology continues to develop, we can expect to see even more impactful applications of GenAI in this sector to foster equity in the supply chain while furthering the sustainability agenda globally. 

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