Driving innovation with digital learning solutions in agriculture
Boaz Liesdek (batch 15) works at Q-point in Kenya. Q-Point is specialised in consultancy projects for agrofood businesses, donors and public institutions in various agro and food markets. Due to last year’s limitations to train face-to-face on location, Boaz worked on implementing digital solutions to ensure continuation of their project activities. As a result of his work, Q-Point was able to transition and offer all training activities remotely. At the same time, he initiated a Community of Practice (CoP) on Agrofood.
Last year, remote working became the standard and all organisations quickly had to adapt to this situation. This was also the case in Kenya, where Boaz is striving to drive innovation by implementing digital learning solutions at several Kenyan educational institutions. Boaz explains: ‘Innovation can be described as the creation, development and implementation of new products, processes or services with the aim to improve efficiency and effectiveness. In Kenya, an increasing number of youths have access to digital devices and adequate internet connections. Students in remote regions can benefit from online classes, which allow them to take specialised courses that are not available in their districts.’
‘The development of e-learning at our projects has been on-going for several years. For example at our project with Pwani University in Kilifi, Kenya, e-learning development has been a focus from the start. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the e-learning platform was ready for use and lecturers only needed to familiarize themselves more with digital learning. The number of daily users at the end of 2019 has been a record 5600 and keeps increasing as e-learning activities continue to scale-up. Due to the COVID pandemic, blended learning has turned out to be one of the major outputs of the project which allowed Pwani University to excel in critical times!’
‘For the project “Capacity building for strengthening the livestock value chain” with Egerton University, we have also worked hard to develop agripreneurship e-learning materials. The successful agri start-up incubation programme of the centre was forced to be put on hold due to the pandemic. With digital solutions we are able to mitigate this challenge and even improve the outreach of the centre.’
Community of Practice Agrofood
‘Together with my fellow Young Expert Bram Peters (ICCO, batch 15) we initiated the Community of Practice (CoP) for Agrofood. YEP CoP Agrofood aims to encourage Young Experts to engage in an open pro-active dialogue that promotes out-of-the-box thinking and unconventional solutions on food and nutrition security, and agricultural development, contributing to SDG 1 (Eradicating poverty in all its forms) and SDG2 (End hunger, achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture)’.
Once a month the platform organises online meetings. During these meetings, a volunteer participant will present a project/case to share tacit and explicit knowledge. The combination of sharing personal experiences with in-depth background information allows for knowledge sharing that is both accessible and of high value.
The CoP Agrofood mainly focuses on food system and value chain development approaches to agricultural development, fostering agripreneurship, inclusion of smallholder farmers and agri small to mid-size enterprises. Other topics in relation to agricultural development are also welcome, such as youth employment, rural-urban linkages, smallholder finance, migration, gender, food waste reduction, geopolitics etc. Currently, seventeen Young Experts actively participate in the CoP.