Through participatory research, Dr. Ankita Raturi is working to develop technological tools that can build resilience in the food system.
The Assistant Professor in the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering at Purdue University, Raturi says that it is important that all farmers have a co-ordinated approach to food safety. “My mission is to think about how we can make these decision makers,” Raturi tells Food Tank.
To support these stakeholders, rather than imposing a solution.
While helping growers adopt and improve cover practices, for example, Raturi worked closely with cover crops councils across the United States. Through participatory design sessions that spanned months, she learned what potential users hope to see in new software.
“Each of the different activities we do is really focused on making sure that everyone is able to speak up and talk about what they are working on and that you can actually influence what we end up designing,” Raturi tells Food Tank.
Raturi says that the process can make some farmers skeptical. But, she says, “one of the things that I’ve always felt good about — and it’s a matter of how they bring someone to the table, and no matter where their headspace is, after we go through the process together, I know I’ve done my job right if they feel like they were heard and included. ”
Once tools are operational, Raturi notes that community engagement is important to keep them running. “We can implement it however we want, but then somebody needs to keep this alive in the long term.”
Open source software can serve “as a way in which we keep these tools alive,” Raturi says. “I look to bring in the community members to be able to take ownership of the tools we create. And so in a lot of ways, my advocacy revolves around this idea [that] we’re not just building tools for you, we’re building tools for you, so you can take care of them over time in the same time you do.
Ankita Raturi on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about the climate crisis.
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