Question 5 (opens 2 October)

Mario Acunzo
Mario AcunzoFAOItaly

Dear All,

I think this consultation is underlining key issues about the role of communication in family farming, such as: a) the need for participatory and demand drive rural communication services that have to be planned and negotiated among different rural actors (e.g. farmers organizations, extension services, municipalities, etc.) with a view to their institutionalization; b) the importance to harness the potential of community media and the ICTs and to blend them ensuring a real appropriation by family farmers and development agents; c) the need to promote policy frameworks for inclusive rural communication services; and d) the importance of strengthening local capacities in participatory communication and the use of ICTs.

I cconsider very important to facilitate a dialogue among different constituencies (e.g. farmers ‘associations, development agencies, governments, etc) about the need for communication policies in support of the agricultural sector. It is also crucial to document evidences of the results generated at the field level by the use of the ICTs and community media and to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration among ComDev practitioners and development programmes. These are key areas of work to improve rural communication services and I hope that the upcoming Forum on Communication for Development and Community Media for Family Farming (Rome 23-24 October, 2014) will provide the opportunity to identify and agree on strategic partnerships and initiatives to face these challenges.

Alberto Solano
Alberto SolanoGrameen FoundationGuatemala

As mentioned in this forum there are many ICT efforts, a lot very promising but few that can pass beyond the pilot test. Scale is rare and uncommon, there is a lot of duplication of efforts, learnings are not shared properly and over all there seems to be lacking a common path or vision of future and success. Donors, practitioners and governments are not aligning efforts or creating enabling environments that can orient efforts and make resource utilization more effective.

Governments and donors need to build better incentives for private sector companies and telcos to engage and generate social innovation, its possible but not common. There are somegood experiences that merit being mentioned, here in Medellin, Colombia the local Government of Antioquia and the municipality have been promoting the city as an innovation hub, yes, Medellin, and you will be surprise how successful they have been in just few years.

Ruta N, http://rutanmedellin.org/index.php/en,has become an true innovation hub, where the goverment has partner with scientist, academia, donors, private sector players and enterpreneurs to promote socia technology innovations. Ruta N is building a technoogical district that provide a safe and ease company landing program that promotes that international technology businesses and support companies set up in the city under one roof, creating an innovation hub (by now there are more than 40 companies that have started operations in Medellin).

Beyond landing of companies, there are funds and support vehicles for entrepreneurs, institutions and reseach organizations, that support the development of innovations from ideation and prototyping, to acceleration programs that promote commercial scale. 

Ruta N is a perfect example of defining a common vision that can make systemic changes. We need to do more of this if we want to see real changes and if we want to have ICT efforts that pass the pilot test. 

Its not about projects, its about enabling ecosystems that promote continous improvement,shared learnings and growth.


Freddy Freddy Leonardo Arias Guerrero
Freddy Freddy Leonardo Arias GuerreroAsociación de Ingenieros Agrícolas de Colombia ASIACColombia
  1. Capacitación y formación en utilización de herramientas tecnológicas.
  2. Implementación de aplicativos de fácil acceso, que sirvan para algo.
  3. Participación colectiva de los medios de difusión.

Gracias por su contribución. Voy a tratar de traducir al Inglés, para una mejor comprehensión.

1. Capacity development and training on the use of ICT tools

2. Implementation of easy applications

3. Collective participation in the media

1.participatory approaches-community involvement
2. capacity building
3. ICT training
3. Facility allocation and its availability
4. Right channels for information dissemination

Ajit Maru
Ajit MaruIndependent ConsultantIndia

Dear Colleagues:

Beyond informing, educating, enabling the building of new skills and spread of technologies, ICTs impacting upon family farming to improving family farms’ production, planning and process monitoring in farming operations, use of machinery and participation in markets now and in the near future are:

  • Automation, Robotics, Autonomous, Linked Tools, Equipment and Process Monitoring,
  • Wearable Computing
  • Controller Area Networking/Sensor Networks/Grid Computing
  • Big data at different scales from field, farm to global
  • Farm Management Information System
  • Global Positioning System – Multi satellite
  • Drones and Low cost Satellites/Micro satellites
  • More precise geo-spatial data and 3D maps with elevation information
  • Humidity, Ambient Environment and Soil Nutrient sensors
  • Photometry
  • Visualization and Integrated Display
  • Social Media, MOOCs, Online Learning
  • Rural access to online financial services
  • Traceability systems using low cost RFIDs, QR, NFC and other new technologies
  • Telematics
  • Variable rate Irrigation/Fertigation and prescriptive planting
  • Weed, Biodiversity and Pest Management through Integrated systems

However family farmers face major issues in the availability, accessibility, affordability and making effective use of many of these technologies.

A key issue for the smallholder family farmer is of  “aggregation”  such as through forming cooperatives and producer organizations to bring efficiency in use of these technologies through sharing of costs and optimizing small farms use of resources for input, throughput and output as products and participating collectively in markets. 

The needs of smallholder farmers are:

  • Policies promoting and enabling aggregation of family farmers and farming systems such as through cooperatives, producer organizations, farmer organizations etc.

ICTs can contribute to “virtual” aggregation of farms, synchronization of farm inputs, processes, outputs and logistics to participate in markets.

  • New Forms of advisory and support systems for knowledge, skills and technology.

ICTs can enable access to just-in-time information for decision support and action.

  • Trust Centers with Data and Information Agreements, Treaties with regulatory and enforcement mechanisms to share data at various levels and among multiple categories of users from plot, farm, farming system, region, national to global agricultural and related systems.

With the emergence of big data, cloud computing and advanced analytics, new issues and concerns on privacy, security, intellectual and property rights, values, ethics etc. are emerging in data and information management related to agriculture and farming. This will need transforming existing and developing new Institutional arrangements at various levels for data and information.

  • New business-models that integrate  governments, farmers and  banks, insurance,  market intermediaries, cooperatives etc. for participation in markets
  • Inclusive governance  of flow of data, information, knowledge, skills and technology
  • Inclusive development of standards
  • Open Technologies – Open data, information, knowledge, learning
  • Increased democratization of science, learning and support to exponential innovation
  • Lower cost of Hardware, infrastructure and connectivity

There are several dimensions in fulfilling these needs such as for investment through public, private, crowd and community, infrastructure such as for data, applications, analytics, hardware, software and connectivity, content, integration of data, information, information systems and applications and governance.

These needs have to be considered together and actions taken to be holistically addressed to yield benefits to family farmers. They cautioned that action on only one or two items, as it usually happens, may not have beneficial results.

To contribute to improving smallholder family farming, ICTs should make agriculture more knowledge driven and:

  1. Enable family farmers to participate equitably and as entrepreneurs in markets that are just and fair.
  2. Reduce transaction costs, wastage, improve quality, save time and decrease drudgery.
  3. Enable and involve the private sector, especially small, medium entrepreneurs and public sector agricultural research and extension services in partnership to provide knowledge based services for these farmers.
  4. Enable gender and youth to access and share information and participate and engage effectively in all aspects of decision making in their farming and related livelihoods.
  5. Enable and support small holder farmers to aggregate into cooperatives, producer companies and organizations with similar functions
  6. Support these farmers to continuously innovate their farming and participate in research
  7. Help formulate policies, change Institutions, their structures and work processes to effectively generate, manage and use information and ICTs in farming.

The detailed report on how these conclusions were drawn is available on GFAR Website http://www.egfar.org/documents/icts-improving-family-farming

Warm regards,


Ajit Maru, GFAR Secretariat


walther ubau
walther ubauTELCORNicaragua

As you would expect very few people in this forum will be focused on the real issues affecting rural and indigenous communities.

The development system, the paradigm of modern development, not compatible with other species on the planet and the human itself.

Many good experiences and many unsuccessful as I see in the forum, give us both inputs to the same Comenter no faults.

The current global policies do not favor small farmers much less indigenous communities, putting food security at risk, large corporations dictate policy in the states and worldwide. Not all is lost, but first people who still believe in a world more equal for all, we must clear the program has been implemented and our conception of development.

Rigoberta Menchu ​​As said: A Maya us as children we are taught never to take more than we need to live.

In this sense the use of ICT should be used as a tool to help rural and indigenous families to reduce the impact of destructive policies of the current agro food system, offering them a special deal for ICT really help them ensure the existence in harmony with their environment, food, health natural medicine, education, taking into account their rural cultures, indigenous and non-modern culture.

The use of ICT is not required in its maximum technological expression, as some of you have said to traditional ICT much can be done with a simple change of viewpoint. It is not necessary that we flood of tablets, smart phones, computers and other expensive devices and less related to rural and indigenous cultures, since we risk their culture and existence of this.

We all have the best intention to help our hemranos of different peoples of the world do not suffer hunger and misery. No need cooperatives so technologically advanced that the end of history will have to deforest to meet market demand through ICT was extended.

Anyway I'm not against ICT, but knowledge is responsibility to know when, how, to what extent and when not to. Eventually the paradigm of digital world is completely harmful to the planet leads to an acceleration and disorder use of the  physical matter that we have on this planet y  and we have just one.

After some reflection the above actions could be:

1 The struggle of civil society organizations, rural communities, indigenous comuidades be achieved to produce more human and friendly agroforestry and livestock environmental policies.
2.To define the true advantages and disadvantages of ICT.
3 Press the authorities on a more inclusive and holistic education inetgral for change without a lot of resources and energy expenditure.
4 Policies to the responsible use of telecommunications in rural areas to help the holistic development of these.
5. organizations with a more responsible for defining policy intervention in rural areas taking into account their role cultures

many more that you all have, Greetings from a human really worried about the whole planet, not only for the human species, walther

Antoine Kantiza
Antoine KantizaPromotion de l'Education à Distance/Promotion of Learning in Distance, PLEAD in short Burundi

The poor rural farmers do not need to communicate towards ICT application however they are wondering reliable agricultural information in order to prevent their cultivated area and domestic animals against adverse situations such as the epidemic diseases; the scarcity of seeds or fertilizers; lack of pasturage; climate change and so on.

Indeed, the process of gathering trusted agricultural information has its cost and in the end, the trusted agricultural information arrives so late or doesn’t reach to the rural farmers who are not able to evaluate the rightness of an agricultural information as it is confirmed by former Burundi radio listeners who used to say that “the information is right because it has been broadcasted on the radio”, meaning that the producers of trusted agriculture information have to be backed by public and private partnership for the warranty of quality of the trusted services delivered to farmers such as the Central Banks ensure the value of their respective legal money in the economy’s exchange, so in order to avoid wide spreading the inaccurate or false agricultural information towards public or private channels of ICT application in disfavor of unaware smallholder farmers.

The user of ICT application for agriculture and livestock doesn’t reach necessary to the best farming production as a good researcher is not necessary a good teacher because maybe the agriculture information are inaccurate or misused whenever the mediator in sharing knowledge throughout the communication participatory approach is not available at the right time.

The ICT for mobile application for agriculture could push agricultural information to a well initiated person in ICT know how who lives most likely in city than in rural area. Additionally the rural farmers are faced to many tasks that they prefer to listen trusted agriculture information broadcasted freely by radio as it has been experienced on the National Radio of Burundi in the broadcasted magazine named “ Inka n’Imirima” in Kirundi language translated as “ The Cow and Agriculture” and which was presented since many years ago by specialists in livestock and agriculture who provided accurate agriculture information for preventing adverse situations among farmers and for the enhancement of agriculture and livestock towards the whole Burundi country. It is worth mentioning that a similar magazine with more innovative spots of interaction between farmers sharing best practices, is still available nowadays on the same medium which serves as an exclusive communication channel for warning the rural farmers on the sowing date according to the forecasting weather announced by the Meteorological service of the Geographic National Institute of Burundi; the availability of fertilizers; how to take cares of the farm animals; the standard uses in fishing; the new price of exported production such as the green tea or the coffee per kilogram; the sensitization for soil and environment protection by digging methods and by planting trees and forestry.

By the way, the strengthening of public institutions involved in supporting smallholder farmers such as the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock is mandatory in searching and spreading the trusted agricultural information in order to overcome to the cyclical hunger and poverty, and in the specific case, Burundi policy makers have already agreed that the role of this public institution is fundamental in backing poor rural farmers by increasing the budget of the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock and by raising the fertilizers subsides and also in sensitizing other public and private partners in delivering infrastructures and trusted services to the smallholder farmers as it has been done by some stakeholders like IFAD: http://www.ifad.org/operations/projects/regions/Pf/factsheets/burundi.pdf

In reality, the access to a trusted agricultural information is a public need and has to be backed by the involvement of the public and private partnership which should be emphasized by a public policy in implementing trusted agriculture contents towards ICT mobile application in order to promote the accessibility of trusted agricultural information among smallholder farmers living in the remote rural areas for allowing any smallholder to take best decision making of farming and agro-business.

By Prof Antoine Kantiza,-


Input originally posted on 5 October on LinkedIn by Mr Sn Mandal from Nepal:

"Regarding question No. 5, among actions that can be undertaken to improve rural communication policies and services, some may be;
1. Develop community friendly ICTs centers and make easily accessible to family farming communities.
2. Provide affordable or subsidized ICTs services to the targeted communities.
3. Build family farming capacity for smoothly using ICTs tools, and
4. Networking among the stakeholders for information sharing and discussion."


I would keep my "youth supporters'" cap here. Here are some suggested activities towards improving rural communication policies and services, by involving young people:

- Boosting online platforms and social media interactions among young professionals, for them to share information, stories and ideas via different channels of communications

- Supporting young professionals to attend key ICT4AG events and agricultural development events where they can contribute actively to discussions on policies and better services that enable ICT4AG

- Providing training on political awareness for young professionals to get actively involved in policy process and making; and training on (online and on-the ground) communications 

- Engaging young people in all the activities planned, from design to evaluation.