Institutional Experiences


Organised by: CTA


The promotion of the use of ICTs for agricultural development has been championed by a number of institutions. While private sector companies have been leading in the development and provision of the services – Value Added Services (VAS) – most national and donor organisations have been on the ground with the implementation of these services for the benefit of their clients. The goal of this session is to bring together a number of such implementing institutions to come and share their stories – challenges, failures, successes, visions, etc. for the future of ICTs for agriculture. Experiences will be shared by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, Access Agriculture, the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) of Ethiopia, the Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID), the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Ministry of Food and Agriculture,Ghana, and the Rwanda Education Board.

Nov 7, 13:00 - 14:30
Room: Mugesera
Stream: Emerging Innovations

Presentations


Access Agriculture: Enabling 'Videos for farmers' from global to local level


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have enabled fast progress in some areas of rural development. Yet, a lack of suitable content has limited ICT´s ability to reach farmers with ideas about sustainable agriculture and natural resource management. Well-researched farmer-to-farmer videos can improve farmers’ ecological knowledge and livelihoods, but enhancing their impact beyond the pilot scale is still an issue. To achieve this, Access Agriculture was established in 2012 to build local capacities in the development of farmer-to-farmer training videos, to coordinate local language translations, provide an on-line sharing platform, and to facilitate distribution and use of such videos. This initiative followed the strong demands expressed by participants at earlier CTA conferences and over 500 respondents to an on-line survey commissioned by the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Within a year of creating the Access Agriculture website, over a thousand service providers have downloaded training videos for free in over 40 African and Asian languages. To reach out to farmers, over 50,000 DVDs have been distributed containing multiple videos in various local languages. Access Agriculture builds on existing networks and social capital to maximise outreach. This paper will discuss challenges, achievements and opportunities at global, national and local levels for taking video-mediated rural learning to a higher level.


Suite of cost-effective and easy to use data collection, analytical and info - graphic tools


The ATA is an initiative by the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) with the primary aim of promoting agricultural sector transformation by supporting existing structures of government and partners to address systemic bottlenecks to achieve agricultural growth and food security. 

At ATA we believe timely and accurate data collection and the ability to analyze that data efficiently is a crucial component of making management decisions and policy making in the agriculture sector. We understand that agricultural development depends on data-driven decision making and our ICT strategy focuses on comprehensive data collection mechanisms that are relevant for rural areas and developing countries. To this end, our ICT team has thoroughly reviewed and identified several innovative data collection, analytical and info-graphic tools that are cost-effective and easy to use.

We use the open-source Formhub as our data repository and ODK Collect (on Android devices) and standard SMS (on feature phones) as our data collection tools. Formhub provides our field and analytical teams with a secure portal that allows them to create and manage forms (surveys) with the built-in mechanism to capture GPS coordinate, photos and electronic signatures within minutes regardless of any technical knowledge.

Once the data is collected, we leverage (1) Excel/Stata: full featured statistical design tool for researchers and MS excel, and (2) Mapbox: customizable mapping tool to generate patterns, forecasts and executive reports with easy to understand charts. These charts are incorporated in quarterly updates to the Minister of Agriculture and other policy makers.


Women in value chains: can ICT enhance their inclusiveness in value chains?



AGRA's experience in integrating ICTs into Agricultural Development Programmes


Enhancing extension services using the radio and ICTs in the promotion of soil health in southern highlands of Tanzania

Declining soil fertility is driving down agricultural productivity under smallholder farming systems in much of Tanzania. This challenge is aggravated by the low application of soil health practices by farmers due to lack of appropriate knowledge, among other factors. Efforts by extension services have recorded a number of positive results but limited to a few pilot areas and mostly associated with specific projects. The other key factor is that courses offered by agricultural training institutions have inadequate integrated soil fertility management (ISFM) content, to equip students with the knowledge that they can then disseminate to farmers.

Recognising these challenges, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in collaboration with the Government and other stakeholders are implementing a project to improve the delivery of (ISFM) knowledge to farmers. Farm Radio International, applying its expertise in use of the radio and ICTs in communication for development and Faida Market Linkage with specialty in linking farmers to markets are leading the implementation. This three year project targets smallholder farmers in the Southern Highlands and involving three training institutions Igurusi, Ilonga and Uyole. Two ISFM modules were designed and used to offer trainings. Currently a total of 38 field extension officers in the project areas and 300 extension students have been trained on ISFM.

To reach out to a large number of farmers and support extension services, three Participatory Radio Campaigns (PRCs) enhanced by the use of ICTs were designed and broadcast through three radio stations. Monitoring of the PRCs using smart phones was tested and preliminary findings indicate that there is an increased, awareness on soil health, change in attitudes and the demand for more knowledge by farmers. Testimonials by some farmers demonstrate that there is an increase in ISFM knowledge and intentions to practice at the end of the PRCs.

PRCs have proved to be supportive in extension services, motivating to extension staff and improving the linkage with other stakeholders including farmers, input and output market actors and agricultural researchers. The use of ICTs in PRCs has made it possible to get more feedback from farmers, engage extension staff in the dissemination of information and monitoring and evaluation of the radio broadcasts. Basing on preliminary results it is suggested that investing in use of the radio, smart phones and other ICTs through the PRC approach, improves the interactivity between farmers, extension staff and other stakeholders. This contributes to enhancing extension services and the uptake and application of agricultural technologies by farmers.

Organization : Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)

AGRA works to achieve a food secure and prosperous Africa through the promotion of rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers. Smallholders the majority women produce most of Africa's food, and do so with minimal resources and little government support. AGRA aims to ensure that smallholders have what they need to succeed: good seeds and healthy soils; access to markets, information, financing, storage and transport; and policies that provide them with comprehensive support. Through developing Africa's high-potential breadbasket areas, while also boosting farm productivity across more challenging environments, AGRA works to transform smallholder agriculture into a highly productive, efficient, sustainable and competitive system, while also protecting the environment.

http://www.agra.org/

http://www.agra.org/blogs/

 


Leveraging ICTs in Education for Agricultural Development in Rwanda


ICT being a cross cutting enabler for various sectors, Rwanda is looking at leveraging existing ICT infrastructure in schools to enable various ICT4 development programs. Today the Rwanda Education board has deployed 210,000 laptops in 409 schools. Each schools is also equipped updated power installations, a one TERA BYTE server, a wireless local area network and various digital content including lessons and books. Rwanda has been leveraging these equipments at schools to train communities and specifically communities are being trained on the usage of basic ICTs, then this training is guided towards specific sectors such as literacy, health and agriculture. This approach has the advantage of leveraging existing infrastructure therefore making implementation cost effective, quick and adding the value of these equipments to the communities, who in return provide maintenance and security. The idea is to associate the deployment of ICT in education with various awareness, training programs in ICT4 agriculture. This would be done loading digital content on schools/university servers and through organizing seminars at schools where communities are trained and provided with tools to improve farming.


Inovative ICT Use in Agricultural Development - The Case of Ghana


Ghana developed its ICT for Agriculture Development Policy in 2005.  Due to critical issues, these strategies were not implemented. Ghana is said to have a mobile phone penetration of about 80% and taking advantage of this through the development of various mobile applications especially in the agricultural sector is a major boost. The last few years has seen a lot of innovative ICT initiatives in agricultural development in Ghana.  Most of these initiatives have been initiated by development programmes and donor-supported programmes. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is also implementing a number of ICT enabled programmes, all in support of Agricultural Development. This paper is describing three of these initiatives and how they are supporting Agricultural Development in Ghana.  eSoko is a private service provider that offers market information systems for clients. MOFA, with support from the Market Oriented Agricultural Programme (MOAP) subscribed a number of farmers to the eSoko system where prices of selected commodities in selected markets were given to the farmers regularly on their mobile phones.  An evaluation of the programme revealed that the information given them enabled them to make informed decision on which markets to sell their produce and in negotiating for fair prices for their products.  The application of modern technology in extension services delivery has brought tremendous improvements in agricultural delivery in Ghana.  MOFA has set up an e-Extension website that has a number of applications like video-on-demand and voice-on-demand that shows the farmers how to perform some practical farm activities, and in the local languages.  The various agricultural actors in Ghana have difficulties in linking up – both vertical and horizontal linkages. Mfarms has developed mobile applications that enable farmers and aggregators link up with their constituents and follow up their activities from the start of farming till harvest. This provides a level of hope that agricultural interventions using mobile phones provides a viable option for bringing the various actors in the various value chains together, with a high potential to succeed.


Identifying good practices and challenges in the ICT for agriculture domain through an international partnership


Published in 2011, the “ICT in Agriculture Sourcebook” addresses mainstreaming information and communication technology (ICT) in 14 sub-sectors of agriculture (including rural finance, markets, value chains, extension, etc). Freely available online at www.ictinagriculture.org, the Sourcebook provides a global audience with lessons learned, guiding principles, and hundreds of examples and case studies on applying information and communication technologies in smallholder and resource poor agriculture. Recognizing that this field is developing rapidly and that new opportunities arise while challenges persist, the World Bank partnered with FAO and the e-Agriculture Community on how ICT can be used to improve agricultural development agendas. The forums seek to identify good practices, new techniques and applications, and to address persistent challenges through collective thought and discussion. They also provide a unique environment for networking among ICT4Ag practitioners. Hosted online, thousands have been able to participate in these forums. After each forum a report summarizes the key issues, good practices, and case studies identified during the discussion. Productive discussions have addressed ICT and producer organizations, using ICT to enable Agricultural Innovation Systems for smallholders, and ICT and agriculture in the context of “green growth”.

Organization : FAO