Experts to Discuss Cultivating Inclusion during ICTforAg 2023, Nov 7-9
ICTforAg 2023, hosted by USAID as part of Feed the Future, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI), is an online event where agri-food system stakeholders, technology experts and enthusiasts gather to share knowledge, find solutions and form partnerships to address challenges in agri-food systems across low- and middle-income countries.
There are many examples of how technology can change the world, but how can resource-poor farmers benefit from this future? The upcoming ICTforAg Conference (November 7-9, 2023, registration open) has announced the keynote speakers that will signpost 36 sessions on cultivating inclusion in information and communications technologies (ICTs) for farmers in the global south, exploring breakthrough technologies and sharing inspirational case studies.
For example, what if new technologies only exacerbate existing inequalities? Kentaro Toyama, Kellogg professor of community information at the University of Michigan School of Information, a founding member of Digital Green and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology will explain how the “Law of Amplification” applies to artificial intelligence (AI), and the key factors for technology to have an inclusive impact.
Katerina Kotenko and Justin Ahmed of Beanstalk AgTech will launch a new report: “State of the Digital Agriculture Sector: Harnessing the Potential of Digital for Impact Across Agricultural Value Chains in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” From this unprecedented overview of the historical growth, challenges and futures for the digital agriculture sector, they will provide diverse, but targeted, set of stakeholder-specific recommendations.
Priyanka Singh, head of the rural transformation program at the Reliance Foundation, will discuss how to empower rural communities by overcoming the information gap between farmers, based on the decade-long experience of the program engaging with 18 million rural people, including farmers and fishermen from 350 districts in 20 states of India.
AI is one of the newest technologies being deployed in the global south, but participants at ICTforAg can already learn from experiences applying AI to real-world solutions. Keynote speaker Adegbola Adesogan will be joined by several colleagues from the University of Florida to share examples of AI research to tackle challenges faced by farmers and supply lessons learned from deploying digital tools among livestock farmers in Africa and Asia.
One lesson is that technologies work best when they meet local needs. Sonja Betschart, co-founder of WeRobotics, will share the experiences of over seven years of introducing and localizing drones, data and AI solutions to local communities in over 40 countries, through the Flying Labs Network.
Involving communities can also drive down the costs of technological interventions, as will be demonstrated by Jim Taylor, research associate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. ICTforAg participants will have the chance to discuss several case studies of citizen science for water management and biomonitoring in southern Africa.
Context also counts, for example, governmental policies and partnerships. Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary of the Information Technology, Electronics and Communications (ITE&C) Department in the Government of Telangana (Hyderabad, India), will discuss how the local government aims to double farmers’ incomes partly by identifying and scaling out a combination of digital technologies, in collaboration with multiple stakeholders.
ICTforAg 2023 is also directly supporting inclusion through the Inspire Challenge, which will see five challengers awarded with grants to boost women’s participation in digital agricultural services on the first day of the conference.
Register now for ICTforAg 2023, which takes place over three days in different time zones to accommodate virtual participants throughout the world. Local ICTforAg+ events are also being organized in different languages: interested hosts can apply to bring ICTforAg to their country. The full conference agenda will be published shortly, while applications to the ICTforAg Expo are accepted until October 31.
Note: The report “State of the Digital Agriculture Sector: Harnessing the Potential of Digital for Impact Across Agricultural Value Chains in Low- and Middle-Income Countries” has been sponsored by USAID via the Digital Frontiers mechanism implemented by DAI. This effort has also been supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).