Jessica Agnew, PhD, MSc, MPH Assistant Director of Research, Operations, & Program Management Center for International Research, Education and Development
Ralph P. Hall, PhD, S.M., S.M., MEng Undergraduate Programs Director and Associate Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning (UAP) Associate Director, School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) Virginia Tech
Blockchain technology is heralded for its ability to improve traceability, trust, and trust in agri-food value chains. For the optimist and the skeptic of blockchain, we explore the complexities of using this emerging technology to strengthen agri-food value chains to create social and nutritional impacts. This 1-hour talk will explore results and lessons from the field in Western Kenya as to how blockchain might be used as a tool to improve food and nutrition security, women’s leadership, and youth engagement within the value chains for African indigenous vegetables (AIVs).
Over the past several months, Dr. Jessica Agnew (Assistant Director, Research, Operations, and Program Management at Center for International Research, Education, and Development, Virginia Tech), Jesse Harden (a PhD student in Computer Science at Virginia Tech), and I have been running an impact evaluation of Phase 1 and 2 of Virginia Tech’s new food access program. The Market of Virginia Tech was officially announced today. In the coming weeks, we plan to release a platform that will share the results from our 2019 study of Food Access and Security at Virginia Tech and the insights we obtained from our impact evaluation of The Market of Virginia Tech. In the future, this new platform will also present the research we are currently undertaking on how blockchain technology can be used to improve food security through African indigenous vegetables in Kenya.
On behalf of Jessica Agnew, I wanted to thank everyone who kindly donated money to Jessica’s BUY2THRIVE program. The positive response Jessica received from family, friends, students, faculty, and members of the general public (including one or two from the UK and Ireland) has been the most rewarding aspect of her initiative so far. In total, 147 people made a donation and the final amount raised was $16,555. This amount put Jessica in second place in the overall CGU-U Commitments Challenge, which far surpassed what we thought was possible.
Jessica will be leaving for the CGI-U meeting tomorrow, where she will present her ideas and learn about ways to enhance the impacts of her project. If you plan to attend the event, please keep an eye open for Jessica and ask her plenty of questions about the program she is developing.
Jessica Agnew is a PhD student in Planning, Governance, and Globalization at Virginia Tech. She is one 1,000 students to attend the prestigious Clinton Global Initiative University conference in Boston this October. Students attending the conference are asked to make commitments to action in five core areas: education, environment and climate change, poverty alleviation, peace and human rights, and public health. Jessica is one of about 100 students who have been invited to present their proposed projects at the CGI U Exchange – an exhibition style networking event on the second day of the conference. She is also one of 50 students who were selected to receive support on the Crowd Rise platform to crowdsource the funds they need to advance their projects.
Jessica’s nutrition education program in Mozambique is called BUY2THRIVE. It will not only educate mothers of young children about good nutrition, but also how to purchase foods that are safe and nutritious. While knowing the right types of foods to eat is important, if mothers don’t know how to adjust food purchases based on changes in income and availability, then nutrition education will have little impact. BUY2THRIVE will also train respected women in the communities to deliver the education to mothers. This will ensure that mothers receive the education from people they trust. It will also help to create changes in the way entire communities think about food. The BUY2THRIVE program will be run in Mozambique, partnering with local organizations to ensure maximum impact.
Jessica is now crowdsourcing the money she needs to launch the beginning stages of BUY2THRIVE in Mozambique. Please consider partnering with her – as a social investor – as she works towards addressing malnutrition in Mozambique.