Sparking Conversation: Meet Postdoc Jane Ezirigwe

Postdoctoral Fellow on Global Data Governance for Food and Agriculture (2022-2023)
Open AIR, The Open African Innovation Research Network
Centre for Law, Technology and Society
Faculty of Law, Common Law Section
Research Supervisors: Jeremy de Beer and Chidi Oguamanam

Jane Ezirigwe wears a lot of different hats: she is an Open AIR Postdoctoral Fellow on Global Data Governance for Food and Agriculture. She is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Bingham University, Nigeria. Dr. Ezirigwe is a member of the AfCFTA Advisory Council. She is also an Olu Akinkugbe Fellow on Business Law in Africa, a Fellow of Young African Leaders Initiative, and an International Bar Association Scholar.

Dr. Ezirigwe holds a PhD in law from the University of Cape Town, an LLM from the University of London, and an MBA and LLB from ESUT Business School and University of Abuja. She has over 17 years of experience in legal research, legal advocacy and legal education, and is well versed in mobilizing and translating knowledge for wider use. Her research interests are in the areas of food and agricultural law, international trade, and natural resource development. Dr. Ezirigwe provides consulting services to Women’s Aid Collective, a Nigerian NGO advocating for womens rights. She also provides support services to the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria, a network of over 500,000 women farmers. She has won several academic and research awards for her contributions to the development of law and has authored many publications.

Jane Ezirigwe

Tell us about your research. What are you working on?

My research topic is Governance of Agrifood Data for Inclusive and Sustainable Development”. I reflect on fundamental considerations that require some form of uniformity in purpose and form for us to have a global governance framework on food and agricultural data that is inclusive and sustainable. My research aims to determine how the complexities in generating and using agri-food data will be governed in ways that address the dynamics of inclusivity and sustainability. It examines how agrifood data is currently generated and used in order to generate some insights regarding existing disconnect. It further examines the governance arrangements that currently exist to provide evidence of good practices especially with regards to access and benefit sharing arrangements. I argue that since law is intrinsically embedded in politics, we must examine background rules, policies and norms that can significantly impact on whatever new rules we come up with.

My research will serve global and African policymakers in their quest to make the governance of tech-driven agriculture more inclusive. For African farmers, especially African women farmers, the research will impact their economic empowerment, if adopted, as it makes recommendations on how real benefits could accrue to all the parties involved in the generation and use of Agrifood data, in inclusive and sustainable ways.

What do you hope to accomplish during your fellowship at uOttawa?

I hope to conclude this research and present the findings to the OpenAIR team. Feedback will be incorporated and I will seek to publish the results in a reputable journal. I would also make contributions to the OpenAIR blog.

During my externship programme with Sustainability in a Digital Age, I intend to work on their project on “Partnership for data driven smallholder farmer support in Africa”. Here the focus is on helping farmers lead a transition to agricultural practices that regenerate landscapes. The adoption of both nature-based solutions and cutting-edge technology can assist such a transition. Data can be leveraged with the full consent and participation of women, youth and other marginalized groups, to provide insights and recommendations on how to enhance the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable food systems, leaving no one behind!

What influences your work?

I am committed to mainstreaming gender in my research and I am focused on using socio-legal methods to produce evidence-based research. I am also influenced by the impact that my research would have on society and in the academic community.

Do you have any advice for those who are currently completing their PhDs?

My advice would be that they should take up any opportunity to hone their research skills during their PhD journey. A very important area to improve on would be research methodology, especially the use of socio-legal research, as this produces more nuanced and evidence-based outcomes.

Do you have publications that you would like to share with our community?

What three words describe you best?

Hardworking. Determined. Cheerful.

What are you currently reading?

From Consumption to Production: The Whys and Ways out of Failed Industrialisation in Nigeria by Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka.

From Consumption to Production, book cover