A Digital Transition to Safer Food Systems

© FAO Pedro Costa Gomez


Focus Areas


Dmitry Prikhodko, economist



As digital innovations bring new opportunities for many countries to trade safely and efficiently across international borders, the EBRD and FAO are providing the support they need to leave the paper trail behind.


The digital revolution offers new opportunities to increase the efficiency, transparency and accessibility of international trade, including for plants and plant products. As well as saving time and costs, digital innovations can reduce trade risks, for example, by promoting the adoption of standardized processes and standards, and enabling traceability at each step of the agrifood chain. Building on previous work carried out in Egypt, Ukraine, and other countries in reviewing the costs and benefits of digital agriculture, the EBRD and FAO are carrying out assessments to help countries make the digital transition to facilitate trade and reduce trade costs, including the move from paper to e-phytosanitary certificates.

This project focuses on assessing the costs, benefits and systems to make this shift, with a particular focus on the adoption of e-Phyto – a global digital certificate exchange system designed to make the movement of goods across international borders quicker, safer and cheaper. E-Phyto was developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPCC).


Carry out a status assessment of digital trade systems for agricultural products, primarily those of plant origin, identifying issues and bottlenecks in major exporting and importing countries in the EBRD region and making recommendations on how to overcome them.

Assess the readiness and implementation status of e-Phyto in at least three countries and assess options, benefits and challenges of its integration with various digital trade and document exchange platforms.

Assess costs and benefits related to the operation of digital trade solutions, through case studies, surveys and other tools, for example, through engagement with industry representatives, large exporting and importing companies, and countries currently using e-Phyto to assess its impacts on trade efficiency. This includes developing a methodological framework for carrying out a cost-benefit analysis of digital tools.

Identify areas of private and public investment to facilitate digital trade platforms and transformation including through collaboration with the IPPC Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the e-Phyto Industry Advisory Group which includes among others the International Grain Trade Coalition, the International Seed Federation, the European Seed Association, the International Cotton Advisory Committee and the Global Express Association. Cooperation with the private sector is key to advancing trade digitalization tools.


The status of digital trade support systems/solutions available for agricultural products (primarily those of plant origin), the use of ePhyto and its impact on trade were assessed along with the bottlenecks.

Costs and benefits related to the operation of digital trade solutions (e.g. ePhyto) were assessed through case studies in Serbia and is ongoing in Egypt, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

The work on discussing results with private and public sector representatives to facilitate digital trade transformation, greater transparency and reliability and identifying future technical assistance needs in this area has commenced in Ukraine and other countries of the region.


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