Digital agriculture and e-commerce have been growing in recent years in industrialized as well as developing countries, but probably not as rapidly as its promoters have suggested. The COVID-19 crisis has now created a new “digital optimism” as digital tools may solve some of the problems that the COVID-19 lock-down measures have created. E-commerce appears promising in strengthening food value chains, and digital tools may also support on-farm production during the crisis, e.g., by providing online advice and facilitating access to inputs and machinery services. Governments and donors are promoting policies to stimulate the growth of digital agriculture in an effort to “build agriculture back better” and foster climate-smart production as part of a sustainable bioeconomy. Could the COVID-19 pandemic thus accelerate a digital revolution in agriculture and, more broadly, the bioeconomy? This is the central question of this webinar, which will be addressed by distinguished speakers from academia, the public and the private sector and international organizations.

The webinar is organized by the International Consortium on Bioeconomy Research (ICABR).
Participation in the webinar is free and no registration is required.

Contact: Regina Birner ( and Carl Pray (


Part I: Does COVID-19 accelerate the use of digital tools in agricultural value chains?
15:00 – 16:30 (Central European Summer Time)

15:00- 15:05

Welcome remarks and overview 
Carl Pray, Distinguished Professor of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics, Rutgers University, Chair of ICABR

15:00- 15:05

How does the pandemic influence the demand for digital tools in agricultural value chains? A conceptual framework
Carl Pray and Regina Birner, Chair of Social and Institutional Change in Agricultural Development, University of Hohenheim, Germany

15:15 – 15:25

The perspective of the agricultural input industries
Christoph Wigger, Vice-President, Global Crop Care, John Deere

15:25 – 15:35

How can agricultural advisory services use digital tools to support farmers during the crisis? A perspective from Uganda 
Patience Rwamigisa, Agricultural Commissioner, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF), Uganda

15:35 – 15:50


15:50 – 16:00

How does the Pandemic foster e-commerce? A research perspective 
Thomas Reardon, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University

16:00 – 16:10

E-commerce during COVID-19 times – A food industry perspective 
Steven Bartholomeusz, Policy Director at Food Industry Asia (FIA) Singapore


Discussion opener by David Zilberman, Wolf Prize Laureate, Professor and Robinson Chair, University of California, Berkeley.
General Discussion

Part II: How do international organizations promote digital tools in COVID-19 related agricultural programs?
17:00 – 18:00 (Central European Summer Time)

17: 00 – 17:10

World Bank
Julian A. Lampietti, Global Engagement Manager Agriculture and Food Global Practice

17:10 – 17:20

Sara Savastano, Director, Research and Impact Assessment Division

17:20 – 17:30

Brian King, Coordinator of the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture, Alliance Bioversity-CIAT

17.30 – 17:40

Maximo Torero, Assistant Director General for the Economic and Social Development Department

17:40 – 18:00



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