Impacts of ICTs for Agricultural Development Interventions

Organised by: Farm Radio International (FRI)

ICTs are changing the face of agricultural extension. Agricultural development initiatives are increasingly relying on ICTs to enhance farmers' and communities' uptake of practices and innovations for improved food security. However, there are many questions concerning the impact and effectiveness of many of these initiatives.

This session will interrogate the use of ICTs for agricultural development, and discuss best practices in the evaluation of impact, pro-poor ICT solutions, and knowledge uptake.

Using a "world café" model, the session will begin with a short plenary where presenters will discuss issues related to sustainability, technology convergence, appropriate technology, and accessibility. We will then break into small groups where participants will move around the room to meet with each of the presenters in 15-minute cycles for more in-depth and hands-on discussions/demonstrations.

Participants in this panel will share the lessons they have learned using mobile phone platforms, web 2.0, and "Rural Radio 2.0".

Nov 6, 13:30 - 15:00
Room: Bulera
Stream: Capacity Strengthening


There's an app for that? The impact of community knowledge workers in Uganda

Rapidly increasing mobile phone coverage, cheaper technology, and an open platform that allows for development of applications that extent the use of mobile devices provide new ways to reach farmers in isolated places. We investigate the impact of an intervention that uses information and communication technology devices to provide real-time agricultural information and extension services in Uganda. Using a difference-in-di erence set-up, we fi nd that the introduction of a this technology through a network of Community Knowledge Workers inducedfarmers to adapt their crop portfolio, moving away from low-risk low-value crops towards more commercially oriented commodities. We alsofind that, for the case of maize, the intervention leads farmers to sell less of their maize on the market, but at signi cantly higher prices. Further, our analysis suggests important spillover e ffects. We do not find an effect on maize productivity.

Organization : IFPRI

e-Afghan ag. content is just part of the story

Four out of every five Afghans live in rural areas, one in four is a nomad, and three out of ten can’t read. Can an on-line ICT tool really help such people? e-Afghan Ag, an internet-based resource, provides credible, relevant information to those helping farmers in Afghanistan. This simple statement encapsulates the vision for this UC Davis-led, USDA-funded project that started in 2010. In its short life, e-Afghan Ag is available on five different mobile devices and has more than 10,000 unique users, with more than 50,000 downloads. It has developed over 500 demand-driven fact sheets on 27 different crops, 6 types of livestock, and on farming topics like irrigation, postharvest, watershed management, and extension. The "Ask the Expert" feature with 24-hour turnaround can be accessed by anybody in the world. Priorities, needs, and options for commodities are set by informed, in-country partners and the site has contributions from over 50 institutions.Lessons learned from this project and other ICT in extension projects, show that successful ICT tools need to 1) be client-focused and needs-driven, 2) provide relevant, credible, beneficial and actionable content through trusted sources, and 4) allow for user feedback so systems can respond to emerging needs and to improve the message and delivery options.Many ICT tools are just that - tools - useful for raising awareness – but access to information is just part of the formula for success. Farmers must see sufficient evidence to be willing to test new approaches and if successful, adopt. Therefore, success of an ICT tool also depends on availability of inputs, sufficient knowledge to test and use those inputs, and access to markets for farmers to profitably sell their products. While many look for simplistic solutions to extension, ICT tools like e-Afghan Ag provide wide access, but ultimately success depends on an integration of approaches.

Rural Radio 2.0: Interactive radio and ICTs to promote orange-fleshed sweet potato in Uganda

In Uganda, nearly 20 percent of children under five years of age have vitamin A deficiency (UDHS 2006), which leads to impaired growth, vision and immune systems.Research by HarvestPlus showed that consumption of orange sweet potato (OSP) by children increased their Vitamin A intake by 50% (Hotz et al. 2012), offering an opportunity to address VAD through food. HarvestPlus is working with NGO partners to disseminate Vitamin A rich OSP in 14 districts of Uganda. Realizing that radio offers an effective method of reaching a much wider audience, Harvest Plus and Farm Radio International together with broadcasters and stakeholders designed a radio mini-drama broadcast on ten radio stations in Uganda, beginning in June 2013. This innovation is complemented by to combine radio with SMS technology that allows listeners to interact, answer questions and vote. This provides a huge opportunity for increasing learning among farmers, and gives all organizations options for monitoring and learning more about their audiences. Our approach to rural extensionhas the following features: 

  • It is participatory: Rather than assuming there is one correct message, this features dialogue, debate an interaction between farmers, researchers, policy makers and extension agents. In this respect, “beneficiaries” are content producers and decision-makers. SMS polls are free for farmers and listeners, eliminating airtime cost as a barrier to inclusive participation.
  • It is bottom-up: Broadcasters carry out the research necessary to design and produce interactive radio programs that target the needs, wants and listening preferences of their communities.
  • Built-in monitoring and evaluation: The popularity, reach, content comprehension and uptake is monitored through polls, quizzes and mobile phone surveys. This information is fed into the following weeks’ content, and is used to make continuous adjustments.
  • It is entertaining: Radio 2.0 leverages popular formats, such as radio drama, and makes them interactive and on-demand.

Web 2.0 and social media learning opportunities: measuring the outcome and impact of 5 years’ engagement

A total of 83 events have taken place in 23 ACP countries and close to 2,200 individuals have been trained in the use of Web 2.0 and Social Media via face to face training and distance learning courses. Trainees include representatives from regional Farmers' Organisations, regional networks operating in the domain of Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD), NGO representatives, journalists, private sector operators, researchers and technology intermediaries.The presentation / share content would focus on the results of two impact assessments conducted to cover the periods 2008-2010 and 2011-2012. In the analysis particular attention has been paid to age cohorts and gender to isolate data related and identify correlations between adoption rates, age and gender across English and French speaking groups. A effort has been made also to assess the impact acquired skills (personal and institutional levels) have had on the ultimate beneficiaries / the audiences of those trained. The initiative has been the recipient of the WSIS 2013 Project Prize in the e-agriculture category.

Organization : CTA