Digital Agriculture Transformation Seminar


Manuel Allara
Cyber Security & Data Protection Director, Deloitte Risk Advisory
Manuel Allara hold a master degree in Telecommunication Engineering from Rome Tor Vergata University. He has more than 15 years in consulting experience working on strategic technology, cyber security and digital transformation programs. He managed cyber security & data protection programs over Italy, Europe & Middle East. He is an expert on application & data security, security strategy, risk management & compliance, security operation center, cyber resilience. Manuel currently is a Director in Deloitte Risk Advisory – Cyber Risk Services, helping clients to embrace digital transformation in a secure way, balancing risks with the need for innovation and growth.
Gwendolen Deboe
Policy Analyst, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Gwendolen DeBoe is a policy analyst at the OECD, focussing on agricultural sustainability issues. Her current research focuses are how emerging digital tools can improve public policy relevant for agriculture, and best-practice design principles for agri-environmental policy. Gwendolen holds a MSc in agricultural and applied economics from Virginia Tech (USA), a post-graduate certificate in economic design and bachelor degrees in economics and political science from the University of Melbourne (Australia). Prior to joining the OECD, Gwendolen worked on competition, water markets and water regulation in Australia, water quality markets in the United States, and livestock commodity forecasting.

Michael Hailu
Director, Technical Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-European Union (CTA), the Netherlands

Michael Hailu has been Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) since May 2010. He has more than 30 years of experience in agricultural research, communications and development in Africa and Asia. Prior to joining CTA, he held senior leadership positions at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya and at the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia.

Mr Hailu has implemented major strategic realignment of the CTA refocusing the Centre’s work on promoting innovations and capacities to advance youth and women entrepreneurship, digitalization and climate resilience in agriculture. He has degrees from the Universities of Pittsburgh, USA and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and has been trained in strategic leadership at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in the United States.

Archil Bukia
Deputy Head, Agriculture Projects Management Agency (APAMA), Georgia

Archil Bukia is currently the Deputy Director of the Agricultural Projects Management Agency in Georgia. Prior to this appointment, he served as General-Director of the “Georgian Amelioration” Ltd and Advisor of Minister to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development managing the digitalization of government services.

 Prior to 2016, Mr. Bukia held positions of Associate Director at the Georgian co-investment fund responsible for new projects Prior to 2016, Mr. Bukia held positions of Associate Director at the Georgian co-investment fund responsible for new projects

William Beam
Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs, United States Department of Agriculture, US

William “Bill” Beam was sworn in as the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs (DAFP) on Oct. 22, 2018.

As Deputy Administrator, Beam is responsible for overseeing and implementing policies and procedures that regulate the delivery of federal farm programs. He along with DAFP staff oversee major portions of the farm bill including programs that help America’s farmers, ranchers and forest stewards manage market risks, recover from disasters and conserve and protect natural resources through FSA’s network of over 2,100 state and county offices.

Prior to his appointment, Beam was the president and owner/operator of BeamFarms, Inc., a fourth-generation row crop, specialty crop and hay operation in Elverson, Pennsylvania. In addition to his farming operation, Beam owns and manages a sawdust trucking business.

He was an appointed member of the United Soybean Board for nine years. In this role, Beam traveled internationally promoting U.S. soybeans and export markets.He also served two years on the United States Soybean Export Council and held leadership positions with the Pennsylvania Soybean Board.

Daniel Azevedo
Director, Trade Division and Digital Agriculture Department, COPA COGECA

Daniel Azevedo is a Director in the Commodities and Trade team of Copa and Cogeca, an agricultural lobby representing almost 70 national farm organizations and cooperatives in Europe. He is a natural resources engineer graduated in the University of Évora (Portugal) currently the coordinator of Copa and Cogeca Task Force on agricultural technology. He has previously been working for DG Agriculture and Rural Development after specializing on agro- environmental measures in SLU university (Sweden). Mr. Azevedo comes from a family producing wine and olive oil in Vila Real (Douro Region) in Portugal. @florindo_daniel

Bukar Tijani
Assistant Director-General, Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department, FAO

Mr Bukar Tijani was the FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, from December 2013 to October 2018. From November 2018 he assumed office as FAO Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department. He started his professional career in 1978 as a Rural Agricultural Extension Worker. After his National Service with the Kano Agricultural and Rural Development Authority in the mid-1980s, he collaborated with IITA, Ibadan, on on-farm adaptive research for small-holder farms on rice, maize, cowpea, soybean and farming systems, which led to adoption of varieties utilized by farmers up to present day in Nigeria. He held senior positions in a number of the institutions under the State and at national levels. These included General Manager of Fertilizer Blending Company, Director in an EC-assisted Programme, North-East Arid Zone Development Programme (NEAZDP), National Programme Coordinator for IFAD-assisted Community-Based Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (IFAD-CBARDP) and National Project Coordinator for the Third Fadama Development Project assisted by the World Bank in Nigeria. He had extensive experience on participatory Community driven agriculture and rural development approaches across Nigeria. He coordinated all donor-assisted AfDB, IsDB, BADEA, IFAD and World Bank programmes and projects including the National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) and the FAO-China-Nigeria tripartite agreement on South-South Cooperation. From July 2011 to September 2013, Mr. Tijani was a Cabinet Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria where he served as the Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Francois Pythoud
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to FAO, IFAD and WFP, Switzerland

Plant biologist by training, François Pythoud holds a PhD in natural sciences from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. He worked as a research associate at the University of Washington, Seattle USA and at the Friedrich Miescher Institute, Basel Switzerland. In 1990 he joined the Swiss Federal government. He has more than 25 years’ experience in international environmental and agricultural policy issues with special emphasis on sustainable development, natural resources management, innovation, biotechnology, biosafety, genetic resources, agroecology and green economy. From 2016 to 2018 he was Chair of the FAO Committee on Agriculture. Until September 2015, he was Head of the International Sustainable Agriculture Division at the Federal Office for Agriculture. In this position he was in charge of FAO and agricultural issues in relation to the OECD, the multilateral environmental agreements and the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. Previously, he worked at the Federal Office for the Environment on GMOs, Biotechnology and Biodiversity. He was closely involved in OECD Environment, Health & Safety and Agriculture Programs since 1990 in particular as Chair of the OECD Working Group for the harmonization of regulations in biotechnology (1997-2001) and Member of the Agriculture Committee (2007-2015, vice-chair from 2008-2010)

Saysongkham Sayavong
Head, GIS Unit, Department of Agricultural Land Management, Ministry of Agriculture, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

Saysongkham Sayavong has an experience on management of sloping land (soil and water conservation with farmers), farming system, soil survey and soil sampling, mapping of soil and land use/land cover, soil improvement, land suitability evaluation, participatory land use planning for agriculture and forestry, land resources information management system, and agro-ecological zoning.

Deborah Romney
Global Director, Development, Communication and Extension, Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), United Kingdom

Deborah Romney joined CABI's main African office in Nairobi as the Coordinator for Knowledge and Innovation Systems and is now the Global Director for Development Communication and Extension

Deborah Romney has a PhD in ruminant nutrition from Newcastle University and 18 years’ experience of designing, implementing and managing research and development projects in tropical and temperate environments. She previously worked for the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) in the UK on projects in Africa and Asia, before joining the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in 1999. Ms Romney’s research interests evolved from an early focus on livestock nutrition and production into a more general approach to feed resource utilisation and farming systems.

During the past few years, her research interests have focused on understanding how knowledge is generated, spread and utilised.

Deborah Romney previously took on responsibility for developing and managing a portfolio of projects and current remit is to oversee all projects within the Development Communication and Extension theme. She sees her role as championing the innovation systems approach within CABI, working with those already taking on board these new ideas to raise awareness within the organisation.

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