The Team

Joanna Kane–Potaka
Executive Director, Smart Food
Assistant Director General – Strategic Marketing and Communications, ICRISAT

Joanna began her career as an agricultural economist and later moved into market research in agribusiness.  Since then she has worked in a wide variety of marketing-related areas including strategic marketing, communications, fundraising, knowledge management, and uptake of scientific research. She has worked for government, private industry (manufacturing and consulting) and with non-profit organizations (four CGIAR agricultural research centers) in India, Sri Lanka, Italy, Malaysia, Philippines and Australia. She has 30 years’ professional experience. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Graduate Diploma of Management, Professional Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing and Master of Science (Global Marketing).


Dr. Anitha Seetha
Nutrition Scientist, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Anitha started her career in the field of food safety and nutrition with the focus on science based innovations by integrating health, agriculture and nutrition technologies to reduce malnutrition, especially for the most vulnerable group of first 1000 days including pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under 2 years. She received promising young scientist award for her remarkable contribution in the field of food safety. She has a multiple disciplinary educational background encompassing Bachelor’s and Master’s in biochemistry, Master’s in dietetics and food service management (DFSM) and PhD in food science and working experience of more than 7 years in Malawi, Tanzania, Myanmar and India.  She is currently a Senior Scientist at ICRISAT, based in India.

Dr. Ramadjita Tabo
Director – West and Central Africa, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Dr Ramadjita won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as part of the team on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is currently Regional Director-West and Central Africa at ICRISAT and was previously Deputy Executive Director of FARA. He is a cropping systems agronomist with a PhD in Agronomy and Plant Genetics from the University of Arizona, USA. He is a member of the Pan-African START (a system of regional research networks to build capacity), chaired the Advisory Board of Africa’s Interact project (research-to-policy linkage for adaptation to climate change), and coordinated the Desert Margins Program on arresting land degradation and conserving biodiversity.

Ashok Jalagam
Fellow & Smart Food Coordinator – Asia Pacific
Strategic Marketing and Communication, ICRISAT

Ashok Jalagam migrated to Australia as a young student to pursue his education in horticulture and started his carrier as horticulture post-harvest specialist with Woolworths and later moved on to leading a redundancy team at AMP. Since then he has worked in consulting roles as post-harvest specialist and as a sustainable farming practices of agriculture and horticulture in various countries (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Tanzania, and Australia) with small and medium firms and farmers, focusing on loss prevention, profitability and sustainability by empowering communities.
Currently working with ICRISAT on their Smart Food Initiative and working across Asia Pacific. He has 18 years professional experience and also runs an NGO in rural India, for education woman, skill development and conducting medical camps for the vulnerable.

Agathe Diama
Head-Regional Information – WCA
West & Central Africa Program

Agathe is based in Bamako, Mali where she coordinates and oversees the implementation of communications strategies and the programs under Smart Food Initiative for West and Central Africa. Agathe is a graduate from the University of Bamako in Sociology and Anthropology, she holds a diploma in journalism, a Master degree in Economic and social administration and a specialized MBA in Communication. She is a fellow of the International center for journalism (ICFJ) Washington, Oklahoma State University ‘Nurturing the fourth estate’ (2007), Swedish Media Development Office program for Media Managers (2006), Knowledge Management Academy –International Labour Organization (2018), Radio Netherlands Training Center (RNTC)( 2018) and many other. Agathe is an experienced radio and TV broadcaster. She worked with the Voice of America, Africable Television, Radio Kledu and as a Communication specialist with the International Finance Corporation – IFC (World Bank Group) .

Parkavi Kumar
Senior Communication Officer
Strategic Marketing and Communication

Parkavi Kumar started her career as a market researcher in bioenergy sector and has 9 years of work experience as a coordinator in projects focused on climate change and environment in India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Currently, she is working on the communications for Smart Food Initiative in India.