Dr David Bergvinson

The Digital Revolution in Agriculture

7-8 August 2017, Canberra

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Dr David Bergvinson

David joined ICRISAT in January 2015 to lead its strategy development to ensure science, demand-driven innovation and strategic partnerships come together to translate science into prosperity for rural families in the dryland tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining ICRISAT, David worked on the Agriculture Development team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and led their Digital Agriculture initiative.

As Director General of ICRISAT, David continues to build partnerships that leverage the power of digital technology to accelerate the development and delivery of farmer-preferred products and services. To this end, ICRISAT is working closely with national partners along value chains of ICRISAT’s mandate crops (sorghum, pearl and finger millet, chickpea, pigeonpea and groundnut) to ensure our science improves the lives of farmers and nutrition for all consumers. ICRISAT refers to these crops as Smart Food – Good for consumers nutritionally, Good for the planet by diversifying farms and Good for smallholder farmers by increasing their resilience and offering diverse market opportunities. David is a Canadian national who has worked in international agriculture research for development for over 25 years.

Dr David Bergvinson Paper Crawford Fund Conference 2017

Dr David Bergvinson Presentation

Unlocking the Power of Digital Agriculture


Digital Agriculture encompasses a value chain framework that supports smallholder farmers’ access to services, knowledge and markets. This helps to unlock the economic potential of agriculture, preserve natural resources and accelerate equitable economic growth in rural communities.

Digital Agriculture is already the nerve center for modern food systems that enables democratization of information and distillation of big data analytics to provide timely and targeted insight for farmers, input suppliers, aggregators, processors and consumers. These insights are now delivered to the location of a decision (e.g. farmer’s field on a smart phone) on how to optimize profitability, increase value chain efficiency and support consumer awareness on food and its impact on their nutrition, rural economy and environmental footprint of agriculture. Digital tools have the potential to compress value chains and reduce transaction costs, thus moving more value to the farmers’ end for improving incomes and livelihoods.

Through Big Data and Systems Biology, the nutritional quality of crops can be improved by gaining a deeper understanding of the interaction of food, nutrition and human health. Spatial Data Infrastructure combined with unique digital identification can support an ecosystem of integrated services to better serve the needs of farmers – whether it be access to inputs, credit, insurance or markets. Downscaled observed weather data are critically important to support all actors along the value chain given that agriculture is a solar and water-driven industry. Maintaining the trust of farmers and consumers is vitally important so policies to manage Personal Identification Information are essential; however, data also needs to be granular to support precision agriculture practices.

An ecosystem of different tools and platforms supported by pragmatic and visionary policies and institutions will position countries to uniquely unlock the power of digital technology to accelerate agriculture development and ultimately enable us to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals – one country at a time.