E-Agriculture

Christiane Monsieur

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I just would like to focus on this again... ICTs, technological innovations, community media are great but they need to be used in a process where participatory approaches and the people themselves play the main role. In particular in a comdev perspective, they are not the aim but a powerful means to achieve development objectives, including empowering people, with a special accent on the most "vulnerable" sectors.

 

Thank you Alice.

The Dimitra community listeners’ clubs are groups of rural women, men, young women and young boys- mixed or not- that voluntarily come together to discuss their priorities, community problems and act together to find solutions. This happens in a participatory environment where everyone (both women and men) have the opportunity to make their voices heard. In this approach, ICTs are important instruments serving the initiative. The clubs are equipped with wind-up solar-powered radios and sometimes paired with mobile phones to facilitate communication among the clubs, community radios stations and communities. ICTs are certainly essential in this approach but participation, action and ownership are crucial elements. The clubs are agents of change, not only in agricultural matters but also in other social aspects (health issues such as sanitation or HIV/AIDS, girls’ early marriage, social cohension, gender equality and women's empowerment). As someone was saying before, ownership is fundamental if small farmers – women and men- are to adopt new practices, new ways of doing, new varieties.

I share with you a publication issued in French and English (most Dimitra knowledge sharing tools are in both languages) that summarizes the incredible experience and main characteristics of the approach http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/am604e/am604e.pdf I also invite you to read our latest Newsletter 25 http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/dimitra/pdf/dim_25_e.pdf which features articles on Dimitra and its partners and this special number contains also an interesting speech of a traditional chief who speaks about the impact of the community listeners’ clubs in his communities.

Dear all, it is nice to be here with you, listening to other voices, other experiences, other perspectives, exchanging ideas and views.

I really would like to know something more about the radio listening clubs mentioned before as the FAO-Dimitra team has been working and supporting an approach that might be similar : the Dimitra listeners' clubs. The clubs have been a great support to women and men farmers (including youth) in their farming activities and not only! It is a successful approach that uses ICTs as a means for rural people to get empowered. ICT, technologies, media are great but people need to remain at the centre of the processes.  Clearly the sole distribution of ICTs (whatever their type, radios, internet access, phone, etc) is not sufficient to empower people and reduce their rural isolation. Experience in our Dimitra project has shown the importance of participatory methodology that goes in parallel with any kind of “distribution” and takes into account the gender disparities and socio-cultural dynamics of the context, also building on rural people capacities and aspirations.