Visiting cards in my pocket…

Because of the unseasonal rains (which lashed central India
after midnight, accompanied by lightning and power failures)
most of the participants at Baramati VI [1] arrived late at
the venue.

At the dinner table, at starting time, there were just three
other participants who had flown in from abroad, via Mumbai.

Frida Youssel, a Lebanese lady based in Geneva, is
coordinator for UNCTAD (the UN’s Conference on Trade and
Development) [2] finance and risk management commodities
branch. We shared ideas on Lebanon’s senseless civil war,
its site to keep villages in touch with the outside world
including the large number of expats from the country [3] and
the impact of Lebanese food in the most unlikely places of
the globe including six kms away from my village!

Dr Youssef, who has visited other parts of India in the past,
is keen to look at successful attempts of ICT in agriculture.

PJAM (Peter) Smeets, drs. is from Alterra Landscape Centre in
the Wageningen UR in the Netherlands [4]. He spoke on
e-agroparks in the Netherlands, somewhat hi-tech stuff with
more interest on the business side.

Edwin Moyo of Zimbabwe, the CEO of the Trans Zambezi
Industries Ltd, was also present early, having come in via
the Kenya Airlines flight (one of the few from that continent
that connects Africa with India, apart from South Africa and
Ethiopian airlines). But he didn’t have a card on hand, so
that will have to wait.

Gopi N Ghosh was a known face. We’ve been in touch through
BytesForAll. He’s currently the assistant FAO representative
and resource person (for food and nutrition security) at New
Delhi.He heads FAO’s knowledge management network and is part
of the Solutions Exchange that shares useful agri info.[5]

Later, on the bus home, this expert with a long experience in
agriculture (including the G B Pant University), spoke about
growing areas for concern about agriculture in India. Ghosh
has had long experience in this field.

Together with him wer ehis colleagues Bidisha Pillai
(research associate, food and nutrition security community)
and Shailza Kapani (operations assistant, knowledge
management partnership project). Both have the link for the
Solutions Exchange prominently mentioned on their visiting

Another familiar face was that of sai sreekanth m (who spells
his name in lower case on his cards). [6] sai was one of
those bright young men we met at [7] 2005, the
Free/Libre and Open Source Software network conference held
last December in Bangalore. There, he was talking on Free
Software tools in the world of education.

sai works for Yahoo! [8]. His designation is senior product
manager for emerging markets. But he’s passionate about ICT
in development, is a member of the BytesForAll [9] mailing
list (now, am I bragging?) He was earlier with HP, looking at
how all the silicon and software could make sense to the
Indian commonman. sai sees India as among the top ten
emerging internet markets globally, and expects a lot of
attention and things to happen on this front.

As some of us were discussing over dinner, there are a lot of
interesting small projects coming up all over the place, in a
country like India. But given our size and poor
communication, the left hand doesn’t seem to know what the
right hand is doing. If anyone can bring all these together,
that would be magic!

On Friday morning, one met up with some press people too.
Hemant P Mardia, associate editor of [10].
B B Bansal is the commercial advisor to the Consulate General
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands [11]. He mentioned Dutch
interest in port dredging, logistics, and the like.

T L Sankar is a honorary visiting professor at the
Administrative Staff College of India at Hyderabad [12] while
K R Padmanabha Rao is deputy general manager and member of
the faculty at the Reserve Bank of India’s [13] college of
Agricultural Banking.

In between, I also caught up with Mathew Sangma, who comes in
from the remote North-Eastern Indian state of Meghalaya, and
is with unitus-accion, the Indian microfinance centre. He
mentioned they have a software called ‘porta credit’ but I
couldn’t locate it after a hasty search on their site [14].

Or did one look at the wrong place?

[6] saisreek at
[11] bom-ea at
[14] and


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