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Abigail is a recent computer science graduate who is curious about Machine Learning and Data Science. Having worked as a global volunteer for Omdena Ai, she has developed a keen interest in developing data and software solutions for socio-economic good, and is keen on harnessing the power of modern technology to assist farmers.
Chief Scientist, International Fertilizer Association, IFA (France)
As the Chief Scientist of IFA, Achim Dobermann provides strategic scientific advice and leadership to global initiatives on improving nutrient management and stewardship. He was formerly Director & Chief Executive of Rothamsted Research (UK) and Deputy Director General of IRRI, the International Rice Research Institute. In these roles he led a wide range of research programs that aimed to develop solutions for the sustainable management of agricultural systems. He has over 30 years of field experience working in every region of the world on the application of science and technology to sustainable agriculture, with a particular emphasis on soil science, plant nutrition and agronomy. Achim has authored or co-authored over 110 journal papers, several books on a range of agricultural issues, and numerous other technical and outreach publications. He is an Editor of the international journal Global Food Security and a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America and the Crop Science Societies of the Philippines. As a member of the Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) he leads a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Feeding a Hungry Planet. He received his MSc in Tropical Agriculture and PhD in Soil Science from the University of Leipzig in Germany. Other previous experiences included work as a Soil Scientist at IRRI (1992-2000) and as Professor of Soil Science and Nutrient Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA (2000-2007).
West Africa Business Development
Ben started out his software career by helping to bring a software-as-a-service product to market, while building bespoke software for multiple large businesses and small start ups, gaining him years of valuable experience in the whole product development lifecycle. He’s always had a passion for technology, stemming from his start in technical theatre at the age of 12. His first software project was an app to manage technical theatre equipment and performance schedules at his school, which is still in use today. An avid traveller, you can often find Ben exploring the streets of Europe.
Director R4D, Central Africa and Natural Resource Management, IITA (Kenya)
Bernard Vanlauwe joined IITA in Kenya in March 2012 to lead the Central Africa hub and the Natural Resource Management research area. In this capacity, he also has an oversight role in the Consortium Research Programs (CRP) on Humidtropics; Water, Land and Ecosystems; and CCAFS. Prior to this appointment, he was the leader of the Integrated Soil Fertility Management programme of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility research area of CIAT (TSBF). Bernard joined CIAT-TSBF in 2001 and led the development, adaptation, and dissemination of best ISFM practices in various agro-ecological zones in sub-Saharan Africa. In September 2010, he took up a visiting professor position at the Swedish Agricultural University in Uppsala in the Soils and Environment Department. His previous appointments have included work for IITA in Nigeria (1991-2000) and the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (1989-1991), where he obtained his PhD in Applied Biological Sciences in 1996. Bernard has published over 100 papers in scientific journals and over 120 in other forms, and has supervised or co-supervised over 30 MSc and 10 PhD students.
Head of Customer Success
Bruce Kisitu is a project manager and development specialist with over 14 years experience as a consultant to a range of public- and private-sector organizations across sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2014, he has offered business development services through the Gutsinda Development Group, which managed the rollout of a village enterprise advisor model using mobile technology to deliver agricultural information on best practices. Previously, Bruce worked in various roles as a consultant, facilitator and trainer for the Uganda Management Institute, the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, the USAID Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation Cocoalink Plus Project, the Grameen Foundation and for the International Fertilizer Development Centre. Bruce earned his PhD in Public Governance and Management at North-West University, South Africa.
Sorghum and Barley Agronomy Advisor, Uganda
Cosmas Wacal is an agronomist with core competences in soil science with over 7 years wealth of experience in sustainable annual and perennial crops production, soil fertility/nutrient management on smallholder farms, dryland agriculture, cropping systems, and soil and water conservation in fragile ecosystems. Apart from being a Senior Agronomy Consultant with iSDA-Africa, he is also a Lecturer in Agronomy and soil science at Uganda Martyrs University. He previously worked as an Agricultural Credit Officer with PostBank Uganda Limited, and as a Customer Services Representative specializing in Agricultural Extension at the Farmer Call Center of Grameen foundation. Cosmas holds a BSc in Agriculture from Makerere University, Uganda, MSc and PhD in Agriculture, Global Arid Land Sciences with major in agronomy and soil science both from Tottori University, Japan. His PhD investigated the mechanisms underlying sesame yield and quality declines under continuous cropping systems and its mitigation strategies.
Vice President of Agricultural Development, OCP (Morocco)
Fatiha is an intrapreneur, an experienced leader and a passionate advocate for entrepreneurs and farmers. In 2016, Fatiha participated in the Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP) at MIT. In 2014, Fatiha was identified by the Choiseul Institute among Young African leaders of 40 and under who will play a major role in the development of Africa in the near future. As an intrapreneur, Fatiha spent 19 years in major Moroccan and multinational companies. Fatiha is currently Vice President in charge of Agricultural Development, Domestic Market in the OCP Group. In 2011, she was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the OCP Fund for Agricultural Innovation. In 2008, Fatiha joined OCP as a key resource in the Chairman’s office. Fatiha has also worked for Altadis group, Wafabank and Alcatel. Fatiha is an ICT Engineer from the École Mohammadia des Ingénieurs (2000); she also holds an MBA from the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris (2008); a Certificate in Strategic Management and Geopolitics from HEC Paris (2011), and Certificates in Executive Management and Leadership from MIT (2014 and 2018).
CEO and co-founder, Yagro (UK)
Gareth Davies is an entrepreneurial leader in digital agriculture, with a deep passion for the role of business in creating societal value. He is CEO and co-founder of Yagro, a UK-based data and technology company delivering commercial decision-support systems to farms. He is also a Trustee and Member of the Board of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, a charity awarded the Queen’s Charter in 1840 to be the independent voice for science and best practices in agriculture. Previously at Syngenta in Switzerland, Gareth led the Food Security unit exploring novel business models to serve smallholder farmers across the world. His contributions there include shaping the smallholder commitment of Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan; and forming a new venture capital initiative through Syngenta Ventures, devoted to solutions for smallholders. Gareth has worked in high-level strategic consulting across a wide range of industries, particularly global agribusiness. His NGO experience includes working in West Africa with the microfinance platforms Kiva and Global Brigades. Gareth holds a First Class MSc in Chemistry from the University of Oxford, and a scholarship MBA from the London Business School.
A programmer, entrepreneur and lapsed mathematician who is passionate about building technology teams and using software to make things people want. Before joining iSDA he led a software consultancy focused on helping startups launch their first products, created a software-as-a-service product and took it to market. He also consulted with a wide range of organisations as a “virtual CTO”, managed IT and digital marketing for an international NGO, and founded an e-commerce business. Jamie read the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge.
Following an early career in agritech R&D in Europe and Africa, Jonathan focussed increasingly on agribusiness development first in India, then Mexico and most recently in Africa. Jonathan is passionate about harnessing science, entrepreneurship and venture capital in the service of smallholders across the Global South. Jonathan earned an Executive MBA from the London Business School, a PhD in Plant Biotechnology from the John Innes Centre, and a BSc in Agricultural Botany from the University of Reading.
Field Agronomist, East Africa
Julius Kwesiga is an agronomist with over 10 years of successful experience in smallholder farming systems. Julius has explicit scientific and practical knowledge of annual and perennial crops agronomy. He is passionate about sustainable agriculture. Julius is a recipient of 2009 young achievers award of vocational skills in Agriculture. Before joining iSDA, he worked as the Client Development Officer with the Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD), and as the Extension Specialist with Grameen foundation. Julius holds a BSc in Agriculture, and MSc in Crop science both from Makerere University and earned his PhD in Agricultural sciences from the University Bonn.
Keith has over 40 years experience in agricultural research and development, including 31 years with World Agroforestry (ICRAF) based in Nairobi, where he led research in sustainable land and soil management. He has pioneered global developments in soil-plant spectroscopy and in 2021 was awarded the Deep Dive Groundbreaker prize of Foodshot 1 – Innovating Soil 3. Prior to joining ICRAF, Keith developed agronomic recommendations for Southern Darfur in the Sudan as part of an integrated rural development project; dryland cropping systems in rice-based systems at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines; agronomic recommendations for Mediterranean areas at the International Centre for Research in the Dry Areas in Syria; and tillage systems for the drylands of Swaziland under the national agricultural system. Keith holds a BSc in Soil Science and PhD in Agricultural Botany from the University of Reading, UK and holds an Honorary Scientist position at Rothamsted Research in the UK.
Field Agronomist, West Africa
Kodjo knew that he wanted to work as an agronomist from an early age when he was staying with his grandparent whose main activities focused on agriculture. He has over 6 years of experience in agriculture research and development, including 2 years with International Fertilizer Development Centre (IFDC) Togo in conducting Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) research on rice and maize through Farmer Field School (FFS). Kodjo also has over 3 years of experience with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan in Nigeria in conducting research on cowpea. He is interested in sustainable agriculture practices that improve yields, incomes, and livelihoods of farm households. Kodjo attended the University of Lomé in Togo, where he became an agronomist engineer in Crop production. He obtained an MSc in Plant and Microbial Biotechnology from Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar in Senegal, and a Ph.D. in Plant breeding at the Pan African University Institute of Life and Earth Sciences (Including Health and Agriculture), University of Ibadan Nigeria.
Manuel started his career as a research assistant with a subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana. He is passionate about accelerating growth in SMEs hence his career has revolved around working with start-ups in business service and technology industries. Before joining iSDA, he worked as a deputy finance manager for a wholesale company. Manuel is a Chartered Accountant, studied Statistics with Mathematics in the University of Ghana, and an MBA student at Quantic School of Business and Technology, USA.
Lead Data Scientist
Matt launched his career conducting academic research on methods for improving crop photosynthesis in response to environmental changes. After moving to the private sector, he began working as a data scientist and software developer for an agri-tech startup, where he helped build a digital platform to remedy challenges in the UK agri-food industry. His professional interests currently centre on using science and software engineering to improve livelihoods. A keen traveller, Matt has been on two long-term trips, most recently exploring the wilds of Central Asia and hiking to Mount Everest base camp. Matt holds a PhD degree in Plant Sciences from the University of Manchester.
Former Advisory Services Manager, West Africa, Root Capital (Senegal)
As Advisory Services Manager, Mireille leads Root Capital’s advisory operations in West Africa, including implementing projects in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation and Partners in Food Solutions. Previously, she served as the CEO of SEMFIN, a Senegalese microfinance institution (spun out from WorldVision), providing financial and non-financial services to entrepreneurs living in rural areas. She subsequently lived in rural areas for five years working directly with female micro-enterpreneurs before joining Root Capital. In addition, she held several positions at Citibank, including Head of Cash Management where she was responsible for monitoring loans extended to rural enterprises under the Swiss and Belgium Funds. Mireille holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Maryland.
Head of Operations
Monica is a highly experienced, client-focused programme and operations manager. After 18 years working in the built environment, she brings a wealth of knowledge related to placing products with clients and providing a training environment to ensure end-users are familiar with all operational requirements. This has included start-ups throughout China and Hong Kong. She manages the day-to-day operations activities of iSDA and co-ordinating partners in several countries. She has a strong track record in the multi-phased implementation of software and enterprise tools through the entire project life cycle.
Sorghum and Barley Agronomy Advisor, Uganda
Mugisha Paul, has a master’s Degree in Plant Breeding and Seed Systems from Makerere University in Uganda, a bachelor’s of Science in Agriculture from Makerere University in Uganda, a Certificate of Agri-Entrepreneurship from Agriprenuership Alliance Switzerland, a Certificate in Policy Briefs and Preparation from Egerton University Kenya, a Training in Research Data Analytics and Data Management from Egerton University in Kenya, and a Training in Risk Modelling from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria and International Seed Sector Development training from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands. Mugisha Paul has worked with various agriculture like BASF, Union consultancy limited, MARA Agribusiness limited, AGAFAM International and Agape Innovations limited.
Patrick’s six years of experience as a field technician includes work for Agrocares on mobile and wet chemistry testing, as well as support for farmers in collecting soil samples and interpreting recommendations. In his current role at iSDA, Patrick is responsible for training VEAs, field officers and farmers on the use of handheld soil scanners and other mobile data collection tools.
With a background in marketing, media and intellectual property management, Peter transitioned from the private sector to consult on market development for CAS-IP, the CGIAR system office responsible for IP. In this capacity he advised member organizations on projects ranging from cacao conservation in Ecuador to establishing a seed alliance in West Africa. He then consulted for IFDC on projects across a dozen African countries, focusing on branding, media and agridealer development. Peter brings a wide range of skills and experience to iSDA, where his focus is on developing and testing solutions to last-mile delivery in the small farm sector.
Rejoice graduated with a bachelor's degree in Surveying and Geomatics. She has since gained experience in the geospatial industry particularly in remote sensing. Rejoice enjoys working on combining earth observation data with programming to analyse, predict and visualize trends for agriculture and environment conservation purposes.
Finance and Due Diligence Advisor
Robert has a wealth of experience in the agribusiness, energy and financial services sectors in Canada and across a number of African nations. He has provided consulting services to international development programs funded by the USAID, UK AID, GIZ, the World Bank, SIDA and the Rockefeller Foundation. His work has included investment facilitation for SMEs, structured trade of staple foods and inclusive business models in the agriculture sector in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique. At the Bank of Canada, he was part of the team responsible for the Annual Debt Strategy and a C$35 billion treasury bill and bond debt portfolio. A Certified Public Accountant, Robert holds an MBA from Canada’s McGill University.
Sunflower Agronomy Advisor, Tanzania
Chutto has over 10 years of experience as a Seed inspector, including consulting and conducting training on seed aspects with NGO’s, Private sector and Farmers in Tanzania. He has practical knowledge of various field crops including laboratory seed testing for seed quality. Before joining ISDA, Chutto worked as a seed production and quality control manager with East African Seed Company in Arusha, Tanzania. Chutto holds an Advance Seed technology in Kassel University Germany, Seed testing certificate in Danish plant directorate- Denmark, Rural development certificate, Management Center – Zwaziland, seed technology-organization and management of seed programs Zschourtau-Germany and Diploma in General Agriculture from Mati Tumbi, Tabora-Tanzania.