The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) hosted the soft launch of the WBG DigitalAG4MENA Competition.
The launch, held in collaboration with the World Bank Group (WBG) continued the discussion, started in the launch of IFPRI’s report on revitalizing Lebanon’s rural areas, around themes of agricultural revitalization through the use of digital technologies. The WBG’s latest focus in the MENA region has been on strengthening agricultural markets and raising the profile of the agricultural sector. Its DigitalAG4MENA competition will be an opportunity to crowdsource innovative information and communication technology (ICT) solutions, targeted at raising efficiency, equity and environmental sustainability of food systems in MENA. DigitalAG4MENA is a scale up of the DigitalAG4Egypt competition throughout the entire region, starting with Lebanon as the second country following Egypt. This soft launch kicked off a great opportunity for the agriculture entrepreneurs and professionals in the Arab world who are looking to apply and implement their agriculture, business, and technology knowledge and create value in their society.
The WBG session featured four speakers who joined for a panel discussion: Hadi Jaafar, assistant professor of irrigation engineering and water management at FAFS, who gave an overview of the latest applications in remote sensing and smart farming; Ramy Boujawdeh, deputy general manager, Berytech, presenting a snapshot of the agricultural entrepreneurial ecosystem in Lebanon and highlighting the role of Agrytech in helping innovators transform their ideas into businesses that can grow globally; Nisrine Turky, co-founder of IoTree, pioneering artificial intelligence (AI) driven smart electronic devices capable of detecting and identifying agricultural pests and notifying the farmers via a mobile application when, where, and how to intervene, thereby improving farmers’ production while reducing the use of pesticides; and Fatma El Zahraa Aglan, agricultural specialist, World Bank Group, who launched DigitalAG4MENA.
An audience of over 60 participated, including faculty, students, alumni, and external guests from academia, the public and private sectors, from organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), and from NGOs and civil society.