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Supporting Farmers with Low-Cost Digital Tools During Covid-19

ICT4D Conference Webinar Series

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The COVID-19 outbreak has created extreme vulnerability in the agriculture sector, impacting farmer livelihoods and resilience, food security, and agricultural market systems. Current disruptions—such as COVID-19—and future crises are presenting threats to the food supply chain. Because of this, global, local, and government organizations are increasing the application of digital tools and introducing new innovations to provide technical assistance to farmers from distance, when traditional in-person agricultural extension is impossible.

While this pandemic presents many challenges, it also creates opportunities for digital tools to better serve farmers, as well as be adapted to assist public health responses, and prepare for new agricultural needs that arise. 

During this webinar, part of the virtual edition of the ICT4D Conference and ongoing ICT4D webinar series, you will hear about low cost digital and mobile technologies to support farmers under these unprecedented circumstances.

Discussion topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Applying digital technology to provide smallholder farmers with customized and actionable information to improve their livelihoods 
  • How to adapt your services to provide new COVID-related information and provide solutions to COVID-related market disruptions?
  • How to better understand and respond to (changing) farmers' needs with real-time feedback mechanisms?
  • How to build trust of farmers/program users at a distance?
  • How have you or will you adapt your user-centered design in this rapidly changing context?
  • Funding of digital technologies to help farmers weather the COVID storm
  • Future outlook: could this be an opportunity to disrupt the traditional agricultural extension system for more effective approached?

Speakers

Dr. Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director, Innovation Systems for the Drylands and Country Representative of Tanzania, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Erna Goudt, Client Relationship Manager, eProd Solutions Ltd

Jonathan Lehe, Chief Development Officer and Director of New Programs, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD)

Ram Kiran Dhulipala, Theme Leader, Digital Agriculture & Youth, Innovation Systems for the Drylands, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Moderator

Sonja Ruetzel, ICT4D Partnerships and Conference Manager, Catholic Relief Services

About the speakers

Dr. Anthony Whitbread, Research Program Director, Innovation Systems for the Drylands and Country Representative of Tanzania. The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). With a PhD from the University of New England in Soil Science and Agronomy, Anthony leads a team of 30+ scientists across south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in an innovation systems mode devising strategies to manage climatic risk, soil fertility, and identify market-led development opportunities. This role was preceded by a 20-year research career in the crop-livestock systems of semi-arid Australia, SE Asia and southern Africa. His team-based work has received recognition with the “2006 CSIRO Learning Culture Award” and the 2013 CSIRO team medal for ‘Impact from Science’. In 2011, he became full Professor (W3) of Crop Production Systems in the Tropics at the Georg-August-Universität in Göttingen, Germany combining his passions of teaching and applied research. He has published widely with more than 55 journal articles, a H-index of 21 and citations exceeding 2400.

Erna Goudt, Client Relationship Manager, eProd Solutions Ltd. Erna is a young professional in the international development sector. She has a MSc Degree in International Relations and a BSc in Human Geography and Urban Planning. She is specifically passionate about how new technologies can improve peoples’ lives in a sustainable manner. She loves working in a start-up environment where opportunities for business and impact seem endless.

Jonathan Lehe, Chief Development Officer and Director of New Programs, Precision Agriculture for Development (PAD). Jonathan holds a Masters in Public Administration in International Development (MPA/ID) from the Harvard Kennedy School. He has more than 10 years of experience in the global agriculture, health, and education sectors, designing, implementing, and evaluating programs to scale up access to critical services in 30+ countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. He has previously worked at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, and consulted for the World Bank, DFID, Bridge International Academies, and MIT’s Jameel Poverty Action Lab.

Ram Kiran Dhulipala, Theme Leader, Digital Agriculture & Youth, Innovation Systems for the Drylands, The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Ram leads the Digital Agriculture Theme at ICRISAT in Hyderabad, India. After obtaining his engineering degree from Government Engineering College, Hyderabad, he also acquired an MBA in 2011. He worked as a software engineer in Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) from 2004 to 2010. In TCS, he worked primarily in the telecom domain for customers, such as Ericsson, and British Telecom; and was into technologies like VOIP, OSI stack, and SIP programming. He also has rich experience in architecting solutions in Enterprise IT environments. As a manager he has worked in executive positions in the corporate sector in the areas of finance, corporate strategy, program management and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) across diverse sectors. Ram is a strong believer in partnerships and has managed complex projects that bring together people/teams with diverse skills and backgrounds.

Sonja Ruetzel, ICT4D Partnerships and Conference Manager, Catholic Relief Services. Sonja is leading the ICT4D Conference (currently in its Virtual Edition) on behalf of CRS and co-facilitating this monthly webinar series. Before joining the Global Knowledge and Information Management team at CRS, she was the Event & Program Director of the Aid & International Development Forum (AIDF). Sonja has over 15 years’ experience researching and managing global conferences, training courses, webinars, as well as reports and whitepapers in a wide range of industries, including finance, legal, health, technology, public and non-for-profit sectors. Prior to following her passion for professional development events, Sonja worked as researcher and editor at consultancy Control Risks. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from University of Constance, Germany.

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