Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc, MSc x 2

Jan Priebe joined the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich in October 2014. He is involved in identifying and implementing information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support projects at NRI, ranging from the implementation of digital data collection tools for monitoring and evaluation activities to the development of market information services for agricultural inputs and products. He also conducts research into the adoption and impact of ICTs in the context of smallholder agriculture.

He previously worked as independent for varying organisations including Concern Universal and the Food Ethics Council, where he provided research support on divers topics including the implementation of digital data collection tools for monitoring and evaluation, and the potential contribution of the private sector to food security. He also presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development (APPG AgDev) on the use of ICTs to support smallholder agriculture in developing countries. Jan received an MSc in Environmental Technology from Imperial College London in 2013, winning the Sue Pritchard award for his MSc thesis investigating the use of mobile communications to support the marketing of organic rice to premium markets in Bali, Indonesia.

Prior to this Jan held senior consultant positions at research agencies TNS, London and Brainjuicer, NL, conducting consumer research for multinational companies such as Unilever and Philips. During this time he gained extensive experience using insights gained from consumer research to develop innovative products and services. Jan is keen to now use this experience to develop user-friendly ICT services for smallholder farming communities where last mile access and usability are crucial to service adoption and impact.

Jan grew up living in the Netherlands, Brunei and Oman and has undertaken short term development projects in Senegal and Mali. He is fluent in Dutch, German and English, and has intermediate proficiency in French.

Jan's research interests resolve around opportunities for technology to contribute to solutions to the day to day challenges facing smallholder farmers in lower and middle income countries, including:

  • Bridging the gap between producers and markets
  • Improving information transparency to increase the responsiveness of agricultural systems to risk
  • Capturing and distributing local content
  • Integrating (digital) data collection methods to approach real-time monitoring and evaluation of projects
  • Challenges and opportunities of 'big data' for agricultural development
  • Open source software projects addressing smallholder agricultural needs; ie market information systems, eCommerce platforms, warehouse administration and logistics systems, extension service support systems

Commercialising Clean Sweet Potato Seed Production

Location: Uganda, Tanzania
Year: 2013 to date
Funding Body: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Position Held: ICT specialist

Description of the Project: improve quality and enhance commercialisation of sweet potato vine multiplication in Northern Uganda and areas centred around Gairo and Shinyanga in Tanzania. This project takes the novel approach of identifying and working with existing vine multipliers and linking them with research institutes. The aim is to improve the quality of planting material, and introduce new varieties by getting existing vine multipliers who have access to wetlands to multiply improved and new varieties on a commercial basis. The expected result is a more sustainable method of improving planting material compared to other approaches where new varieties are often given to all farmers, many of whom cannot sustain the improved planting material during the dry season.

Specific contributions included providing advice on suitable ICTs to use in data collection, researching ICT adoption and use and trialling methods of using mobile phones and radio programmes to strengthen the marketing activities of vines multipliers.

Farm Risk Management for Africa (FARMAF)

Location: Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Zambia
Year: 2012-2015
Funding Body: European Commission
Position Held: ICT specialist

Description of the Project: The objective of the project is to enhance access to and use of effective pre- and postharvest farm risk management tools (systems, institutions and infrastructure) by smallholder farmers in Tanzania, Zambia and Burkina Faso. It is expected that by using these tools, smallholder farmers will be able to reduce their exposure to downward shocks, improve access to credit and, therefore, their capacity to invest in yield-enhancing technology. The project, led by NRI, is a partnership between AGRINATURA (consortium of European agricultural research institutes and universities) and several national, regional and Pan-African Farmers' Organisations.

Specific contributions are the development of an open source mobile application to aid in the certification of warehouses by the national warehouse licensing boards in the creation of a warehouse receipt system. Activities include programming the certification application and reporting software, installing the system and training users on-site in Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda.

2013, Susan Pritchard Award, outstanding MSc thesis in a low or middle income country, Imperial College London

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