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Meet our experts | Online Course Data-Driven Agri-Food Business

Published on
June 22, 2021

In this article course leader Dr. ir. Sjaak Wolfert shares his insights with regard to the Online Course Data-Driven Agri-Food Business. He is a Strategic Senior Scientist and Theme Ambassador on Digital Innovation in Agri-Food at Wageningen Economic Research, part of Wageningen University and Research. What are the most important recent developments within this area? What topics are covered during the course? Why is it important? Learn all about it in this interview.

What is your area of expertise?

My area of expertise is Digital Innovation in the Agri-Food sector. Having a background as a Crop Scientist I have always been interested in how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can support farming and food production. Nowadays I am looking at how digital technologies such as Big Data, The Internet of Things and Blockchain can be applied to farming and food production. I am the scientific coordinator of large-scale public-private partnership projects such as the Internet of Food and Farm 2020 and SmartAgriHubs.

Having a background as a Crop Scientist I have always been interested in how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can support farming and food production.

What topics are covered during the course?

In this course, we will first look at the general trends and developments concerning digital innovation in the agri-food sector. You will learn what the applications and opportunities are but also challenges that have to be addressed. We will look at how digital technologies can contribute to more efficiency, but also how current sustainability issues such as CO2 reduction or biodiversity can be addressed.

These challenges concern technical issues such as information systems and data exchange, but especially also organisational issues such as business modelling and governance and even ethical considerations on the use of technology. We follow an integrated approach in which we look at different research disciplines and how this can be put into practice.

What is the practical relevance of this course?

The unique approach in this course is that you will build up knowledge around an existing, practical use case while at the same time try to translate this to your own situation. In each module, new elements will be added to the use case. At the end of the course, you have a practical example of how digital innovation works in practice. Moreover, you will have a tailor-made plan for your own situation or organisation, so that you can start to innovate right after the course!

You will work together on this with your peer course participants in small groups. So you will also learn from each other and get a rich overview of the potential of digital innovation in agri-food.

You will have a tailor made plan for your own situation or organisation, so that you can start to innovate right after the course!

What are the most important recent developments within this area?

Data and data sharing has become the most important development, not only in agri-food but in every domain and the whole society. It is important to learn how to deal with this from your own organisation’s perspective. What data are you willing to share? At what costs? And what are the benefits? How about security and privacy? Sharing means that you have to collaborate with others through data platforms. How do you organise this as a sector? What are the rules of the game? The playing field is very dynamic. How to avoid power imbalance?

Data and data sharing has become the most important development, not only in agri-food but in every domain and the whole society.

How does this course differ from the competition?

The course is not a massive online course that you follow as an individual. You are part of a group of peers (around 20) in which there will be much room for peer evaluation and discussion. You will be inspired by people from the same sector but different organisations and businesses. Besides, there will be regular contact moments with the course leaders that are experts in different areas. In about 10 weeks you will build up a knowledge base around a practical use case and finish with a concrete plan for your own organisation or business.

Interested in this course?