Archived Webinar

Digital Ag Series - Connecting the dots to foster digital transformation: Learning from SmartAgriHubs experience in Europe for Africa

"The SmartAgriHub is planning to expand its activities in Africa to foster the digital transformation in the African agri-food sector via a tight cooperation between African and European Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs)."

The current impact of digitization in agriculture is below its true potential. The main reasons for this are the current fragmentation of knowledge and technology expertise in the proximity of farms, and the lack of promising business cases for farmers and business models for the technology providers. At the same time, it should be acknowledged that – unlike other industries – farming is more subject to the sector- and region-specific conditions. Another barrier is the fragmentation and misalignment between the various types of public and private funding. These difficulties are shared across developed and developing nations. In Europe, to overcome these challenges, the EU H2020 project SmartAgriHubs is building up a pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs). DIHs are public-private partnerships for innovation, acting as a one-stop-shop for farmers, advisors, agri-food companies willing to benefit from digital technology solutions for their activities, and supports AgTech companies — especially SMEs, startups, and mid-caps — to get access to technology testing, financing advice, market intelligence, and networking opportunities. SmartAgriHubs has created an ecosystem of ecosystems, leveraging the infrastructure and competencies of 140 DIHs, connected to more than 2000 Competence Centres (CCs) embedded into 9 Regional Clusters, fostering the adoption of ICT-based solutions for more productive and sustainable agriculture systems in Europe.

Strong of its experience in Europe, the SmartAgriHub is planning to expand its activities in Africa to foster the digital transformation in the African agri-food sector via tight cooperation between African and European DIHs. This webinar provides an opportunity to hear from the experience of the SmartAgrihubs and of their DIHs in Lithuania, and discusses options to extend the SmartAgriHub model to Africa, and why not beyond!

About the Presenters

Parmesh Shah

Global Lead, Data-driven and Digital Agriculture, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Parmesh Shah is the Global Lead for Data-Driven Digital Agriculture at the World Bank. He provides leadership to Bank’s work in these areas and supports the development of global knowledge and learning in these areas to offer solutions to clients and other development partners. His current areas of interest are economic and social organizations and networks of the poor, making markets and public services work for the poor, social entrepreneurship, digital and data-based innovations in agriculture and rural development, promotion of on-farm and off-farm jobs, and public-private and people partnerships for rural poverty reduction. He is currently involved in developing a regional program on scaling up digital agriculture in the Africa region, involving setting up ecosystems for entrepreneurship and incubation. He holds a D Phil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and B Tech degree in Agricultural Engineering from Pantnagar in India.

Dr. George Beers

Coordinator, Horizon 2020 projects SmartAgriHubs and Internet of Farm & Food (IoF2020), Wageningen University

Dr. George Beers is a Horticultural Engineer. He holds a Ph.D. in Management Science with a thesis on project management. He is a specialist in strategic information management in agribusiness. His core competence is connecting different worlds. Dr. Beers works for Wageningen since 1991 in several research and management positions. He was the Scientific Director of the co-innovation program Agri Chain Competences (1998-2001), founder and CEO of the Green Knowledge Cooperation on the innovation of the Dutch agricultural education system (2004-2010). Between 1999 and 2004, Dr. Beers held the Chair ICT in Agribusiness at Wageningen University. From 2011-2014 he resided in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia initiating and implementing the Saudi Agricultural Information Centre. Currently, he is coordinating large-scale EU projects in the field of Future Internet in AgriFood. Since January 2017, he has been the coordinator of the H2020 Large Scale Pilot on the Internet of Farm & Food (IoF2020) and a project on Digital Innovation Hubs for farmers (SmartAgriHubs).

Augustas Alešiūnas

Founder and CEO, ART21

Augustas Alešiūnas is the founder and the CEO of ART21. He is a serial entrepreneur and a business angel in FoodTech and AgTech businesses. Also, he was the first one in Lithuania who managed to attract VC financing for the AgriFood Tech sector. Starting from 2008, investments in his managed companies have grown to more than 10 million EUR. Augustas Alešiūnas’ company provides precise farming and grain management AgroSmart solutions for more than 85% of the Baltic market. He actively invests in AgriFood Tech solutions based on Raman spectrometry, AI, and blockchain technologies.

Doris Marquardt

Programme Officer, European Commission, Directorate-General, Agriculture and Rural Development, Research and Innovation

Dr. Doris Marquardt works for the European Commission, in the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development since July 2019 focussing on the digitalization of the agricultural sector and rural areas through research and innovation. She completed her Ph.D. in agricultural policies at the Martin-Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany and holds a diploma (MSc) in Environmental Planning from the Technical University of Munich, Weihenstephan. She held positions at the European Environment Agency, the German Permanent Representation, the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the European Network for Rural Development Contact Point, the Germany-based Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe, the Center of Rural Economy in Newcastle, United Kingdom, and the European Academy in Bolzano, Italy. She has experience in the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy in several EU Member States, including Romania, Italy, and Germany. She served as an expert in policy design, agriculture, and rural and regional development in the wider European region in projects commissioned by the World Bank, UNEP, and FAO.

James Obarowski

Country Director, TechnoServe, Uganda

James Obarowski is a food and agribusiness development specialist with over 15 years of experience in public and private projects in Burkina Faso, Haiti, Benin, and Uganda. As a Country Director at TechnoServe, he has supported a portfolio of programs in horticulture, food processing, cashew, and SME accelerators. He launched and oversaw the CajuLabs initiative, which is incubating a series of promising technologies to support smallholder farmers including remote sensing (drones and satellite), AI-natural language processing, and product realization labs. James holds a B.A. in Economics from Ithaca College and an MBA from IE Business School.

Jeehye Kim

Senior Digital Agriculture Specialist, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Jeehye Kim is a Senior Digital Agriculture Specialist at the World Bank where she leads and carries out the World Bank missions to client countries in the Africa region. Her work includes advising WB’s clients to use digitally-enabled approaches to increase their agricultural projects’ success in sustainable and scalable ways. Applications include mobile-enabled agriculture extension services, mobile money, e-vouchers for agricultural inputs, market price and weather information systems, as well as applications to help smallholder farmers access markets and services. She also builds relationships with industry leaders, executives, development partners, and stakeholders to advance disruptive and digital agricultural technology initiatives, in support of World Bank projects in client countries. Prior to joining the World Bank in 2011, Jeehye worked in both the public and the private sector in Korea and the U.K., respectively. In the private sector, she built expertise in consulting for the high-tech and telecom sectors, as well as for electronic commerce and e-governments. Jeehye holds a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Glasgow.

Vinay Kumar Vutukuru

Senior Agriculture Economist, Agriculture, and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Vinay Kumar Vutukuru is a Senior Agriculture Economist at the World Bank, Kenya based out of Nairobi. He currently anchors the Agriculture Portfolio for the World Bank in Kenya. He has previously worked in the South Asia region on Agriculture and Rural Development initiatives at the World Bank. He supported the scale-up of the Bank’s agriculture and rural development program at the national level and in key states like Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Jharkhand for 10 years between 2009 and 2019 initially based out of Patna and then moving to Delhi. He was also on a development assignment with the India Country Management Unit working closely with the Country Director and the Operations Manager for 2 years on strategic management of the bank portfolio in India including enabling linkages across different sectors and themes. Before joining the bank, he worked in the areas of agriculture, rural development, demand-side governance, and rural safety nets with the Aga Khan Rural Support Program (AKRSP) and the Government of Andhra Pradesh. He finished his graduate degree in Public Administration in International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, and is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Ulyana Dovbush

Global Upstream Lead for Agribusiness and Forestry, IFC Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services (MAS) Department

Ulyana Dovbush is the Global Upstream Lead for Agribusiness and Forestry at the IFC Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and Services (MAS) Department. In this role, Ulyana leads the IFC market creation and Upstream activities, including the development of scalable global solutions and early-stage project development initiatives. Ulyana joined the IFC MAS team in 2009. Most recently before joining Upstream, Ulyana has been a Senior Investment Officer in the Europe and Central Asia region focusing on the development of innovative financial structures and farmer financing models addressing specific gaps along the supply chain. Ulyana holds an MBA from the College of William and Mary, USA, and a Masters in Economics from the Lviv Institute of Management, Ukraine.

Lesly Goh

Senior Technology Advisor, The World Bank

Lesly Goh is the Senior Technology Advisor, former Chief Technology Officer for the World Bank Group. She is a Fellow at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) Judge Business School and a Senior Fellow at the National University of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Lesly advises policymakers on the regulatory impact from emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G, Cloud and Edge Computing. Prior to the public sector role, Lesly built a solid technology career at Microsoft, Deloitte, and startups. Lesly is on the Board of Director for Singapore GovTech and a member of the WEF Global Future Council on Data Policy and Transformation Leaders Network to support the UN-led Food Systems Summit in 2021. From her extensive experience in public and private sectors, she introduces strategic partnerships for agriculture digital transformation, leveraging data and technology innovations in emerging markets.

Marie-Agnès Jouanjean

Economist, Agriculture and Food Global Practice, The World Bank

Marie-Agnès Jouanjean is an Economist with the Agriculture and Food Global Practice at the World Bank where she explores how digital technologies can support the transformation of agro-food systems. She is looking at the new roles for governments in the digital age and how to foster cooperation with and between public and private stakeholders around the development of a thriving innovation ecosystem, and to maximize efficiency, equity and environmental sustainability outcomes. Prior to joining the World Bank, Marie-Agnès worked at the OECD where she developed policy-oriented analysis on various dimensions of digital technologies in agriculture and trade as well as on Global Value Chains (GVCs). She also worked for a Think Tank (Overseas Development Institute (ODI)) and a range of International Organisations on the barriers to trade (infrastructure, services, Non-Tariff Measures-NTMs), regional integration, economics of resilience and climate change adaptation. Marie-Agnès holds a Ph.D. in International Economics from Sciences Po Paris, which she did in collaboration with the research centre, LICOS, in KULeuven. She is also an Agronomist (IRC-CNEARC Institut des régions chaudes/Montpellier SupAgro and ENSAIA National School of Agronomics and Food Industry)

Questions Submitted

jose luis

- Aug 1, 2022
muy bueno


- Jul 20, 2022

Mahaman Mourtala

- Dec 9, 2021


- May 28, 2021


- May 22, 2021

Joy Mildred Adhiambo

- May 18, 2021

Mohammad Nadir

- May 14, 2021
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