Calvin Miller

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People used to be connected by the town drum beating in Africa or a bell or a conch. Farmers were connected to seeds from what they stored, buyers were the local trader or trucker who lived in the larger house in the village. People were connected at the town water well or by the river, drinking tea or something stronger at a party, under a shade-tree and/or by marriage. Today many of these forms of information and communication approaches have lost their economic importance as production, marketing and financing decisions are now commonly made wirelessly without any direct face-to-face communication. Competitive agriculture is connected agriculture. The ICT revolution has made it infinitely cheaper and easier to be connected in ways not possible before. It has also made it more important to have and use the technologies. Many persons associate ICT with cell phones; while they certainly are very important, ICT is much more. In the 2013 document, ICT uses for inclusive agricultural value chains
http://www.ruralfinance.org/library/financial-services/technology-and-outreach/technology-and-outreach-details/en/?srec=14148&tdet=training&tdet2=&tdet3=2&referer= FAO and the Indian Society of Agricultural Professions looked at many ways, both in India and other parts of the world that ICT is used directly and indirectly in value chain linkages and value chain finance with a focus on how ICT facilitates the poor to be more competitive through improved information, links to better markets, timely sales for better sales, better inputs and the like. When I think back to the countless hours I spent on horse or foot to communicate messages in rural villages and visiting house after house, I think "wow", now the farmers have ICT tools that increase efficiency many times over -- any so much more innovation is on the threshold.


We tend to think of ICT as mobile money, texting, etc. but it is at the heart of modern technology which has opened new doors for financial access to small holds -- farmers, micro-savers, insurance services and the like. But I also want to note three areas we sometimes overlook:a. Communication between financial institutions and their clients, between clients, and between staffb. Back-office communication, which allows for agile decision-making and monitoring, improving efficiency and timelinessc. Business efficiency, which improves the buying, selling and market competitiveness of the clients which in turn makes them better clients. A strong client is one with a strong, sustainable business.