Back

Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

Share
  • Department of Global Development
  • Digital Agriculture
  • Global Development

Meet Jeff Kang’acha ‘24, a global development student with a deep-rooted commitment to making a positive impact on food systems and digital agriculture. As a fourth-generation smallholder farmer from Central Kenya, Jeff's passion lies in leveraging emerging technologies to empower smallholder farmers and revolutionize food and agricultural systems. As a Laidlaw scholar, Jeff has conducted extensive work in Kenya and Uganda, exploring how mobile-based platforms can facilitate access to farm inputs and amplify regenerative agriculture. Recently, he attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai as a Youth Delegate, showcasing his commitment to intergenerational collaboration in addressing climate change.

First things first, tell us what you’re passionate about. What kind of change do you hope to make in the world? 

My desire and passion for agri-food systems is inspired by my lived experiences as a fourth-generation smallholder farmer from Central Kenya. I am passionate about how emerging technologies can empower smallholder farmers to revolutionize the food and agricultural systems of developing economies. In particular, I’m fascinated by how mobile based platforms and data-driven technologies are facilitating access to farm inputs, micro-finance and agricultural extension services for smallholder farmers in East Africa.

I hope that my work in digital agriculture will contribute towards restoring the dignity and sovereignty of smallholder farmers within agri-food systems of developing economies. 

As a Laidlaw scholar, you’ve done extensive work in Kenya and Uganda. Tell us about it! 

In my work as a Laidlaw scholar, I explored how mobile-based platforms can facilitate access to farm inputs to amplify regenerative agriculture among smallholder farmers in East Africa. Mentored by Ed Mabaya, I had the opportunity to collaborate with two social enterprises in East Africa: Sparky Dryer (Kenya & Northern Uganda) and Sanergy Collaborative (Kenya).  At Sparky Dryer, I explored how mobile based platforms can create shared economies for smallholder farmers to access and invest in farm machinery, regenerative inputs and post-harvest preservation technologies. At Sanergy Collaborative I supported the conceptualization of a digital platform to facilitate how farmers and agro-dealers connect, access and supply regenerative farm inputs. 

I hope that my experiences as a Laidlaw scholar and an undergraduate research fellow at the Cornell Institute for Digital Agriculture (CIDA) will extend into a career in development, particularly within frontier and emerging markets. Ultimately, I hope my research will yield impact-driven technologies, support environmental preservation, and create a shared sense of prosperity for humanity.

Photos from the field

About the author

Jeff Kang'acha '24

  • Where you consider home: Nairobi, Kenya
  • Double major: International Agriculture and Rural Development, Information Science
  • Minors: Digital Agriculture
  • Future goals: Build a social enterprise that will yield impact-driven technologies, support environmental preservation and create a shared sense of prosperity for humanity.
Man speaks at conference

Keep Exploring

A group of students take a photo in front of the Ezra Cornell statue on the Arts Quad.

News

With the end of another academic year in sight, we’d like to recognize the CALS undergraduate and graduate classes of 2024.
  • Animal Science
  • Department of Communication
  • Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
a man sits in front of many computer monitors

Field Note

Amidst farm fields and dairy barns, an agricultural revolution is underway — with algorithms, sensors, and automation changing the face of farming. Martin Perez '25, a doctoral student in animal science at Cornell University, works at the...
  • Animal Science
  • Statistics and Data Science
  • Digital Agriculture