E-Agriculture

Question 2 (opens 24 September)

A the opening of our second question today, I noticed we have passed the 12000 members on our forum. Thank you to all our members for engaging in this community and welcome to our newest members. We hope you will also be sharing your expericences with us during the forum.

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Networking and knowledge sharing our central to our collective success and sustainable development. Keep up the good work.

Moses Owiny
Moses OwinyWomen of Uganda Network (WOUGNET)Uganda

First of all, there is need for training of farmers to understand, appreciate as well as use and apply skills that they have learned. Since 2005, WOUGNET partnered with community radios in delivering agricultural information to rural family farmers. The project employed a mixed but collaborative approach and employed different ICT tools as no single ICT tool can be used in isolation for such community project. Training on radio presentations skills empowered women with confidence to appear on radio talkshows and share agricultural experiences alongside agricultural experts, two way use of mobile phones in delivering SMS messages to farmers and recieving feedback or concerns were also done. Weekly agricultural talkshows ensured that farmers were prepared and the timing of the talkshows were suggested by farmers themselves to fit within their multiple household roles.

Women farmers would gather together in groups of 30 in 12 sub counties and would actively listen, ask questions and contribute to radio agricultural talkshows. Audio tapes were produced and given to farmers. Partnerships with agricultural extension workers and agricultural institutions ensured farmers were well attended to at community level. This was complemented with offline mediums. Project staff met on a consistent basis with farmers, asking and responding to their farming questions. While most of the farming groups had access to a radio cassette and a mobile phone, by 2010, this was only limited to group chairpersons but members could for instance borrow the phones and use them as agreed upon by members.

The set up of a multi- dimensional information center in Northern Uganda called the Kubere Information Center (KIC) www.kic.wougnet.org -  provided opportunity for women farmers within the location of the center to access it on a consistent basis, however - more males appeared to come to the center than females showing the gender dimension to access to information by rural female farmers.

The use of both traditional and modern ICT tools combined with face to face interactions/ meetings ensured success of the project. Consequently by 2010, the farmers had reported increased production of farm outputs and then the challenge to get market was the next issue to deal with.

Therefore, there were several lessons learned from this project which i can not enumerate but there are certainly links to online resources in which experiences about this project was shared and which i can make it available in case any one needs it.

 

Moses

Eddie Rodriguez von der Becke
Eddie Rodriguez von der BeckeTambero.comArgentina

We strongly believe that ICTs are an excellent opportunity to disseminate best practices among small and medium farmers worldwide. In our experience, developing a free tool to assist them in the use of best practices has enabled us to reach more than 40,000 dairy farmers in 150 countries without the support of any NGO, goverment or investments. From Bangladesh to Nicaragua, in our project we are growing by hundreds of farmers every day based on this philosophy of free, easy to use and modern tools to spread knowledge, and we think that is a way to help improve production and income of farmers.

If we can do it without money or support, based on a small town in Argentina,  imagine what would be possible with better assistance.

 

Thank you for your participation. Would it be possible to share a bit more information on your project? How does the tool work? Who supplies the information on the best practices? Are farmers themselves involved in the content development? It would be interesting to learn more about it. You can also share some links with us so we can look up more information. Thanks again.

Eddie Rodriguez von der Becke
Eddie Rodriguez von der BeckeTambero.comArgentina

Our project is called Tambero.com and is a tool designed to help to increase milk production and livestock. When users create their free account, the system generates a sample farm with data so they can see how it works. This demonstration farm is also used to teach in schools about how is a farm working with best practices. Best practices entered into the system are the product of years of analysis and feedback of our users worldwide, other farmers and specialists like veterinarians. We also used as a source of information a number of farms that have increased production in recent years, and we have studied what are the techniques that have allowed them to achieve that. As we are collecting information, the system will be able to analyze the data of a farmer and recommend practices to a user depending on the region where he lives and the size of his farm. We believe that "smart farming" is not having everything automated, but the best use of the resources that farmers have with proper information. 

Hello everybody,

I'm happy to join this conversation!

My name is Valeria Contessa and I’m currently working in FAO on TECA (Technologies and practices for small agricultural producers - http://teca.fao.org). TECA combines a free online knowledge base for small-holder practices and a discussion forum and is managed by FAO. It provides famers as well as people working with small-holder farmers practical information on validated agricultural practices, in an easy format and language, in English, Spanish and French. The information is provided by development and research organisations. Through TECA’s online forums users can interact, exchange ideas and find solutions to challenges faced by small-holder farmers. The website has over 650 website visits a day. Most users access the website through search engines like Google.

Through a partnership between the Grameen Foundation and FAO, the TECA content is used to repackage information and to share it with farmers in Uganda through a network of community knowledge workers by using mobile phones. This allowed the Grameen Foundation in Uganda to use information from TECA to reach more than 250,000 farmers via smart phone.

We are aware that agriculture differs from region to region and village to village and it is a challenge to address the specific information needs of remote farmers in a particular environment. From an ICT provider’s view we would be interested to discuss the following questions:

To the farmers and practitioners working with family farms in this forum, where do you get your information on agricultural practices from?

From your experiences, have you used web-based information to improve agricultural practices of family farmers?

What should a web-based tool provide to be useful for small holder farmers and extension workers?

 

Thanks a lot,

Valeria

Nafia Hussain
Nafia HussainKatalyst - SwisscontactBangladesh

Hi Valeria

I would like to share my experiences regarding this. Hope you will find answers to few of your query. In Katalyst, we have worked with telecentre which acted as a shared access point for farmers for solving agriculture query. We do have a number of government wings in agriculture ministry, as well as renowned professors from agriculture university. But the content available to them were not ready for being used in web based format. So we facilitated agro experts to collect agro information from various sources of the government and university, convert them in farmer friendly language and digitize them in a website dedicated to agriculture.

These agro experts eventually opened their own firm and are now providing agro content to a number of partners such as telecom operators, development partners etc.

You would find the following link helpful. http://www.eaward.org.bd/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=16

I'll look again at the broader picture and will let our peers give more concrete evidences and experiences to illustrate these. I see two key elements enabling ICT tools and communication services to engage family farmers better in accessing information and exchanging knowledge:

On a technical level:

ICTs are more and more easy to use even with limited technical knowledge - almost anybody can use at least some of the wide range of available ICT tools. They also offer a wide range of supports, with an increasing interest and access to videos, audio and visuals, in addition to writen information. This is quite a progress especialy in enabling illiterate people to share their knowledge. Also, the increasing use of mobile devices is a revolution in term of information access, notably in Africa. 

On a content level:

ICTs have increasingly adopted a "social" aspect. You don't have to deliver rocket science to be allowed to published your (nevertheless) pertinent information. Blogging, instant information, e-discussions and interactions enable family farmers to be consumer, disseminater and producer of information - to access and to exchange. I may emphasize the value of "telling stories", practice motivated by "social media", as an extension of this idea: there can't be fear of being wrong when people actually talk about what they know most: their day-to-day Life. Then, they get the chance to put it into perspectives through discussions and sharing of opinions and experiences with others. Last but not least, thanks to ICTs, target groups receive information fresher/within short delays (vs publications sent by post).

 

Nafia Hussain
Nafia HussainKatalyst - SwisscontactBangladesh

Dear All

Please share your experiences in making information  a transacted/paid service