Question 3 (opens 26 September)

walther ubau
walther ubauTELCORNicaragua

the main barriers that have occurred in Nicaragua and in developing countries (wrong definition) are; 

accessibility of telecom services 
affordability for telecom services and electronic devices 
ICT education 
development policies of the states in rural areas 

here some

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Walther, I am curious to know more about your comment that ICT eduction is a barrier. In particular I wonder what type or level of ICT education.

My organization, UN-APCICT, is working with universities in the Asia-Pacific region to improve ICTD curriculum. So this is addressing formal ICTD education at the university level. As part of this programme we work with educators and subject experts to produce learning tools known as the "Primer Series on ICTD for Youth".

We are also looking at possibilities of extending this to students in secondary education or to young people outside of formal education. I see a lot of potential in working with people outside formal education.

Is this related to your comment? I would be happy to know more about your thoughts on this matter, and also thoughts from everyone else about ICT education.

raul enrique
raul enriqueNicaragua

Hello everyone

some barriers in the use of ICT and its tools:

  1. Internet access difficulties or technological support tools in general, both by the absence in its immediate neighborhood as its high cost
  2. Fear of change, they may perceive a threat to their health
  3. Lack of conditions for the exchange or wrong way to arrange that hinder the adoption of new processes and practices.
Enna Lutengano
Enna LutenganoAssociation of Managing Knowledge in Agriculture (AMKA)Tanzania

The most common barriers includes;

1.Internet/ network coverage is not good in most of the rural areas.

2.In rural areas electricity is still a problem.

3.The cost of purchasing mobile applications and its operation through mobile service providers is not affordable to farmers


Thank you all for your contributions. We already can read about some of the barriers family farmers face under this question, but also under the previous questions. Have you encountered barriers when you wanted to work with community media and ICT tools for family farmers? If so - let us know which ones - and also... were you able to overcome the barrier(s) and how? Looking forward to read more about this topic.

Hello, this question is very interesting as it is often forgotten that not always women and men face the same barriers when talking about "accessing" and even more when we go further in depth with aspects of "controlling". Currently I with the Dimitra Team at FAO and in the contexts where we work, (mainly in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa) several constraints (migratory population movements, limited infrastructure, discrimination, low levels of literacy) limit rural peoples’ access to the information and communication they need to make informed choices and raise their voices at different levels (households, organizations, communities, policy). These constraints are even more true for women who are the backbone of family farming, yet they are often deprived of status, voice, leadership positions, cut-off from decision-making and from the participation as leaders in rural organizations and villages’ meetings.  For this reason it is crucial to integrate a gender perspective in all the phases of a development initiative. In the case of the Dimitra community listeners’ clubs different aspects were considered, such as: the fact that not always women own a radio or have access to one (and even when they have access to radio they are not able to raise their voices and interact with other women of other villages and network); languages in which programmes are broadcast; choose in a participatory manner topics of interest to rural women, men and young people (which may not always coincide); combination of channels of communication (wind-up and solar-powered rural radios, community radios and cell-phones); all this backed by a flexible methodology that enhances participation and discussion for collective action


Hi all,

I agree with the points raised above by Walther, Raul and Enna.

I would add barriers related to the content itself - on the internet particularly:

- Language Barrier!

- The feeling of overload of information. There is so much to grasp that we may just not grasp anything of it.

- The quality of information - What is good information, what is bad information? How can one be critical enough and make a right judgement on what is provided to him/her as a "truth". That's without to say that too often the more accessible information isn't the more accurate!

- Humour, Satire and cultural background. We don't have all the same humour; irony, particularly, can not be perceived by all of us on a first place. This leads sometimes to quite "dangerous" interpretations and confusion on what to trust.

- Local versus Global - what am I supposed to find, as a Family Farmer, that could be of interest to me, my daily life and work in my area - particularly on the internet? How does the big picture relate to me and my conditions/my challenges/ my opportunities (be it national, regional and global)? What can I make of it  - on an economic, political, social, environmental level. Family farmers may feel completely disconnected from some content they find on the world wide web particularly, and they may not see the value of it, although these dynamics do impact their life and require them to be more informed.

These challenges are not faced by Family Farmers only, but they may call for specific answers for the case of Family Farmers. What do you think?



Nafia Hussain
Nafia HussainKatalyst - SwisscontactBangladesh

In Bangladesh, we have 6 telecom operators who are very aggresive for client requisition. Low tariff , and recently improved network coverage are enabling agents for faremrs' access to technology through mobile. What catalysed it further is the availability of economic mobile handsets. So in current situation, around 84% of rural farmers have mobile phones in my country. But the use of mobile is in very elementary level, such as giving missed calls, making/receiving calls. Advanced use of services such as MMS/internet/value added service related to agriculture through mobile is very limited. Challenges that we face include low awareness of such advanced services, lack of know how of how to use them, tech averseness, and  price of these services. Promotional campaign is now designed based on the lifecycle of the service launched. When a new service is launched, mass level promotional campaigns are conducted to create awareness. In the second stage, we concentrate on communication in smaller,  targetted audience  in clusters with demonstration effect. During these sessions, we focus heavily on content that is being delivered (service benefits properly defined, has to relate to the farmer's lifestyle)  and also on activities that can reduce tech averseness of these farmers.

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

There are a lot of points now on barriers (both here and in Question 2). Let me expand on some where I think intermediaries and community media could have a big positive impact.

For information services based on modern ICT to thrive among family farmers, language is an issue from at least two perspectives. 

First, there is the actual language (English, German, Thai, etc.) of the information content. Depending on the study one reads, most of the content on the web is in one of four major languages, with English being predominant. While I have not seen any statistics, anecdotally most of the family farmers I have met or read about do not speak or read any of these "major Internet languages". So where does the information they need come from? In a few cases there is economic incentive to translate or create content in a local language, but in most cases there is not a large enough market for this to happen. (For an analogy, look at the history of standars for non-Roman fonts and Microsoft OS.)

Second, when content is availabe in a langugage that can be understood, the style or level of the language used (i.e. audience targeting) is not appropriate. I believe Katalyst, Grameen Foundation and others know this all too well.

Intermediaries and community media can help bridge these language gaps. Hopefully others will provide more examples.

Mario Acunzo
Mario AcunzoFAOItaly


We all know that farmers have often access individually to ICTs or community media, but they face different constraints (e.g. connectivity, contents, lack of appropriate communication methodologies, etc.) as highlighted by Agit Maru and others, under discussion thread 1.

These problems cannot be adequately solved unless they are dealt systematically and in an integrated manner. I think that the focus should not be on technologies (e.g. ICTs vs. community media) but rather on the need for integrated rural communication services to facilitate equitable access to knowledge and information and to give the voice to farmers and communities. This implies promoting  communication/ICTs policies for the rural sector that should be designed bringing together rural institutions and farmers’ organizations, as well as enhancing the capacities of the service operators and communities involved in the process.