E-Agriculture

Michael Riggs

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Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

I'm really pleased to see how many people have already highlighted the important role of policy makers in enabling the envvironmen that is needed for family farmers to fully benefit from ICT.

My organization, APCICT is dedicated to developing ICTD capacity among policy makers in Asia-Pacific. You can read more about the programme online at www.apcict.org  Based on our success in this region, a similar centre is just being established in Nicaragua to work in the LAC region. 

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.

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.

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.

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Moses, thank you for this input! I was waiting for more discussion on how ICT and other channels for information delivery could be combined to better meet the needs of family farmers. I would like to ask two follow on questions to extend our thoughts about this.

1. What is a "multi-dimensional information center"? Is it something specific or a generic term, and what might it look like?

2. Over the years I have seen a lot of discussion and some very interesting disagreement about the role of information intermediaries (including info centers). Would you explain some of the advantates of having these multi-dimensional information centers as intermediaries?

Thank you!

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Hello Walther. Agroforestry is of great interest. Usually we say that "e-Agricutlure" includes ICT applications in forestry, fisheries, NRM, etc.

Do you know of any examples how ICT is being used by family foresters? This would be very intresting for our discusson.

Thank you.

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Thank you for sharing these findings with us. This sounds very interesting. A bit of context would be useful. What was the location of the agricultural communities you were studying?

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Hello everyone! I am happy to join in this discussion and look forward to catching up with old friends and making new contacts.

ICT can support family farmers by linking people together, so that they can communicate more efficiently and/or faster. Initially this may be simply by making phone calls.

There is a recently released video (from SciDevNet) on how mobile phones are being used by farmers in Myanmar. It's a few minutes long and gives a good introduction to many different ways this ICT is being used. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bpP5jbOEzE

In addition to farming and "business" related activities, families may use ICT for entertaiment (note the women walking to market who use a phone for music while taking a break) or sharing information about other matters aside from farming. I think these are important issues to consider when we look at how ICT impacts family farmers ... because they are not just farmers.

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

Dear Sergiy, thank you for sharing this. It is an interesting use of ICT that is not often discussed as you point out.

At what stage of development are these technologies? When could we expect them to be commercially available, or are they already?

Michael Riggs
Michael RiggsUN-APCICT/ESCAPRepublic of Korea

As an introduction to this question, consider that development organizations, governments and the private sector need to show that their investments are paying off. This includes investment in the ICT4Ag sector. Yet our ICT4Ag sector is relatively new still, and there is arguably much work yet to be done in defining indicators and data that will validate the positive results we believe investment in ICT have.

Consider:

ITU prepares the annual “Measuring the Information Society” report. While full of useful information on ICT penetration and markets, it does not provide urban-rural disaggregated data or indicators related to the impact of ICT on agriculture. (The report can be downloaded here.)

UNESCO has started collecting data on a set of indicators to measure the use of ICT in education in Latin America. Could something like this be a guide for agricultural scenarios?

LIRNEasia’s Teleuse@BOP studies seek to define demand for and use of ICT by people at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP). Does this contain the data we need? If so, should it be applied on a global basis?

I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions on this very important issue.