Are we ready to deploy technology and innovation to ensure that Agriculture continues in the wake of the Corona virus Attack?

Thanks for these quite provoking statements and questions. You have opened my mind for a news story that needs to be shared with members of the public and policy makers. 
Warm Regards,
Dorcas Kabuya Agricultural Information Officer,Ministry of Agriculture,National Agricultural Information Services, (NAIS)P.O BOX 350180,CHILANGA.
+260 977 439 597

On Thursday, March 26, 2020, 02:44:16 PM GMT+2, <> wrote:

Dear Colleagues,

Greetings and our sympathy to all who are affected by the corona virus. The anticipated disrupted necessitated by the corona containment measures will have far reaching effects on the socio-economic fabric of society cutting across all sectors including agriculture. Working from home has become a common measure to minimise risks to exposure and transfer of infection from one place to the other.

As the measures such as lock-downs start to take effect across the globe including the SADC region, the call for innovation to ensure that food production continues remains. In relation to this is the need to maintain engagements without physical face to face meetings. The use of ICTs tools, robotics and other digitalisation measures present an opportunity for organisations and companies to continue with delivering some crucial operations in the wake of the corona virus attack.

Travel plans and most conferences / workshops which were scheduled for March to June, 2020 have been cancelled and the option of holding virtual meetings has taken centre stage as a possible means of conducting critical meetings. This will ensure that critical outputs are achieved despite of the effect of the corona virus.

The possible use of drones, robotics and e-delivery of critical services offers not only convenience but an important solution to ensure business continuity. While this opportunity exists  for delivery of services ( e-lectures and virtual conferencing), there are still concerns on limited access for many especially the poor. There is limited access to affordable internet for many workers which will make the "working from home"  ineffective or not practical for many in agricultural sector.

The current scenario will test the preparedness of the various actors to use existing tools (email, virtual conferencing, drone technology, robotics) to continue their business. Ensuring that food and agriculture processes within each country continue with minimal disruptions is important.

The key questions are; is your organisation ready to navigate the current CoVID -19 Virus disruption by deploying existing technologies to ensure that organisational / agricultural processes continue? What infrastructure is in place to facilitate business continuity? How effective would the current platforms for virtual conferencing, e-learning be given that face-to face meetings are not feasible)?

E-delivery comes with obvious benefits of cost effectiveness and reduces need for travel thereby reduces emissions and frees resources which can be used elsewhere. As everyone is scrambling to deploy tools to address the unfolding situation such as moving school lectures to on-line platforms and conducting conferences online…. where are we as the agricultural sector the SADC region? Will these virtual conferences/ meetings become the new “normal” even post CoVid-2019? Are there any success stories of how these technologies are being put to use to minimise disruption of value/supply chains?

Baitsi K. Podisi(PhD)
Research & Advisory Services Thematic Coordinator,Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) Secretariat
Plot 4701 Station Exit Road

Private Bag  00357, Gaborone


Tel: +267 3914991/7


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