Session 4: Potentials of Digitalization for Increasing Sustainability in Agriculture

In many facets and at all scales, irrigation water management in Central Asia and Afghanistan requires substantial improvements to ensure food security, health, economic development, and protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Climate change and population growth in rural areas will amplify this challenge. The digitalization of the agricultural system may provide and support solutions. It relies on digitized information e.g. from remote sensing, provided in databases or geographical information systems, and includes numerous applications that integrate data, human knowledge, and digital tools. In the field of irrigation water management, digitalization touches the strongly interrelated land and water sectors. Among others it can contribute to optimized water distribution, spatial planning (e.g., integrated water resource management, basin planning), or precision farming. However, the success of digitalization in Central Asia depends on the preparedness of the countries and partner regions. This aspect of preparedness ranges over technical, cultural, educational, and political dimensions. For practice, smart solutions that cover not only the technical dimension are required. 

This session will highlight the technical potentials and existing solutions of digitization and digitalization in irrigation water management. In the discussion part it aims on pathways of implementation in practice, how the presented solution could realistically be embedded into the land use and water distribution sectors. Contributions should focus on the irrigation water management sector and include both aspects, technical potentials/solutions, and pathways to practice. Potential topics (not exclusively) include:

- Ongoing digitization and digitalization processes for agriculture and irrigation water management;

- Existing online information systems and databases at different scales;

- Remote sensing applications for irrigation water and irrigated land management;

- Indicator systems for irrigated agriculture;

- Precision agriculture practices including drones;

- Role of telecommunication and social media for agriculture.


Prof. Christopher Conrad,

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany


Dr. Muhammad Usman,

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany


Almas Kitapbayev,

Kazakh-German University, Kazakhstan

Session partners:

Main speakers

Mr. Ian Jarvis

GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring, Switzerland

Mr. Juan Suárez

Earth Observation Services for SDGs at GMV, Spain

Mr. Zafar Gafurov

International Water Management Institute’s (IWMI’s), Uzbekistan

Ms. Aigul Bekbayeva

GIS center at S.Seifullin Kazakh Agrotechnical University (KATU), Kazakhstan

Mr. Jarvis is currently the Programme Director of the GEO Global Agricultural Monitoring initiative (GEOGLAM). He works out of the GEO Secretariat in Geneva Switzerland and is responsible for the management of the GEOGLAM Secretariat. Previously he was Director of Agro-Climate, Geomatics and Earth Observation for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of Canada’s Earth observation based agricultural monitoring capacity.

Mr. Juan Suárez is the Head of Earth Observation Services for SDGs at GMV. Juan holds a BsC in Geography from the Autonomous Univ. of Madrid (UAM) 1997. He has more than 20 years of experience on applied remote sensing, geo-informatics and digital mapping. Juan has a large experience in the co-design and co-development of digital geo-services aimed at supporting multiscale, from policy makers down to the grassroots, decision making addressing real life challenges. Since 2017 Juan coordinates the EC funded H2020 AfriCultuReS “Enhancing Food Security in African Agricultural Systems with the Support of Remote Sensing” project. At GMV he has got experience broad number of topics; climate smart agriculture, climate resilience & adaptation, sustainable forest management, wildfire modelling and prevention, humanitarian relief, disaster reduction and reconstruction. Before joining GMV he worked as EO and GIS consultant at different geospatial companies. Early in his professional career Juan worked as researcher at the Fire Ecology and Global Change Group of the UCLM (Spain)

Zafar Gafurov an experienced Remote Sensing and GIS specialist, with strong analytical skills and a broad range of computer expertise. Holds PhD on Geographical Sciences from the Scientific Research Hydrometeorological Institute in Uzbekistan and master’s degree on Photogrammetry and Geoinformatics from Germany and postgraduate on Land Management from Sweden. Currently based at International Water Management Institute’s Central Asia office working under water, climate change & resilience strategic program with research interests in natural resources management and climate change adaptation strategies for sustainable development of land and water resources management in the region. Periodically acts as a trainer at international training programmes and consults governmental agencies and international organizations on strategic matters related to his sphere of professional interests.

Aigul Bekbayeva is a Deputy Director for GIS center at S.Seifullin Kazakh Agrotechnical University (KATU). Her research and teaching focus is on remote sensing and GIS technologies for agricultural purposes. Before joining KATU, Aigul was teaching assistant and worked as a GIS specialist. She has completed a master's degree in GIS at University of Nottingham.

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