Winrock-Organized Ag Tech Summit Kicks off in Bangkok
Mark Young, CEO and co-founder of Garuda Robotics, makes drones — and he’s attending the inaugural Asia Regional Agricultural Innovation Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on May 25 and 26. The summit is bringing together an unlikely mix of participants from 15 countries across Asia — social entrepreneurs, researchers, government experts, farmers, fishers and more — to kick off a five-year initiative to promote innovative agricultural technologies in the region.
Organized by the Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Activity and Winrock International, the summit is a unique affair, featuring everything from solar-powered cooling systems to alternative proteins for aquaculture feed. Participants are identifying the challenges facing agriculture in the region and the promising technologies that can address them.
“We’ve been able to get a great cross-section of the people known for innovation in the region,” says Rob Turner, director of the Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Activity.
“This event represents the best of Winrock — working together across disciplines, geographies and sectors to advance technology solutions for smallholder farmers in Asia,” says Christopher “Kiff” Gallagher Jr., Winrock’s vice president of business development and external affairs.
This includes innovative thinkers and doers like Mike Peng, co-founder and co-managing director of IDEO Japan, which has brought principles of design thinking into industries ranging from education to consumer electronics.
Said Peng, “I couldn’t think of a better forum to get amazing minds together to learn, inspire and provoke what we can do together to improve the lives of those in need.”
He will also deliver a keynote address on innovation and the importance of user experience and systems.
USAID and Winrock are announcing at the summit the Tech4Farmers challenge to develop technological solutions and regional partnerships for smallholder farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Nepal. The challenge helps guarantee that the summit will continue to change lives long after it’s over.
Turner says the summit has the potential to make a real difference in the region. “If the technologies we’re supporting can reduce the cost of working with smallholders then I think they have tremendous potential impact,” he explains. “As we’ve seen in the West, the potential of technology to disrupt the way that things are done and to change the dynamic is there. It’s a real challenge in developing countries, but the potential, the upside potential, is enormous. I think that’s what everyone is excited about.”