E-Agriculture

Simon Wandila

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Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia

The concern of how farmers can have access to videos is very important, and requires attention. However, can we explore the use video offline, such as using Offline Digital Repositories/ Library technologies e.g.  Greenstone Digital Library System? Do we have examples of such systems in use? Are there any members here who can share their experience on this?

Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia

Engaging youths in policy processes is essential. I recommend the approach IICD, CTA, FARA and the youth movement YPARD are using, and appeal to community media organisations/ associations/consortium to adopt a similar approach.

 

The provision of Community Media and ICT services has a lot of potential in empowering the youth and attract them to participate in the provision of these services. Deliberate policies and initiatives should be put in place to actualise this.

 

Conducting comprehensive research to understand the information, knowledge and

communication needs of government extension service providers, private extension

enterprises, farmers and telecentres across the agricultural value chain.

 

Establishing and strengthening public private partnerships involving different

stakeholders such as telecommunication companies, entrepreneurs’ associations,

government line ministries and departments, local and regional public and private

agricultural research institutions, farmer associations, community development agents,

local communities, telecentre networks, and government and private agricultural

extension service providers.

 

Develop an agricultural information and knowledge content management model for

community media initiatives where various key projects and organisations such as African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Service, Regional Agricultural Information and Learning System,

Dissemination of News Agricultural Technologies in Africa, FARA, CTA, FAO, local private and

public agricultural research and extension services and other related institutions

participate in content development and capacity building for Community Media.

Below are some interesting reads that adds to this write up...

http://www.slideshare.net/Co-Capacity/110518-telecentres-africafarming-s...

http://www.slideshare.net/swandila1/telecentres-as-agriculturalknowledge...

Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia
  1. Lack of capacity of farmers and extension officers in the use of modern ways of communication and information dissemination (ICTs)
  2. Lack of access to adequate ICT tools and services by farmers, extension enterprises and extension service officers

While National ICT policies have been developed and adopted in various countries, there is no
effective provision for ICTs in agriculture. Some countries in Southern Africa are implementing
ICT in agriculture projects, yet ministries in charge of agriculture do not have adopted ICT
strategies or ICT strategies are not integrated into national agriculture policies.

Zambia: With the growing demand for technical information generation and dissemination by
farmers, and rapid changes in technology, the ministry of agriculture has in recent years been
designing programmes meant to use ICTs in service delivery. Among the notable ones include
agricultural information centres, internet based question and answer SMS services, and
digitization.
Mozambique: The Ministério da Agricultura (MINAG) as of April, 2005 did not have an ICT
strategy in place, although the interest to develop was there. The Centro de Documentação
Agrária e Informação do Sector Agrária (CDA) at MINAG is the department where web
development is being spearheaded. The production of quality content is a concern for CDA
management, as the creation of materials suitable for release on the web demands staff
capabilities that have yet to be developed. In fact, judging from the date of release of official
documents, release onto the website is slow. Between June 2004 and April 2005, the site was
not updated. (CTA, 2005)

Similar situations were discovered in Zambia, Tanzania, Botswana and Malawi where there are
no ICT strategies in the ministry of agriculture, and websites meant to provide agricultural
information are simple static sites. They are not frequently updated and therefore lack
usefulness. However, due to lack of a clearly defined and adopted ICT strategy in agriculture to
provide a framework for integration of ICT in the sector, various challenges have led to most of
these projects not achieving the desired results. Other challenges include lack of ICT skills among
extension and advisory services departments and lack of appropriate ICTs. For instance, there
are situations where senior members of staff do not have competent computer skills and are not
able to utilise the use of computers in the agricultural information centres pilot project.

3. The absence of effective Public Private Partnerships in linking ICTs to agricultural

development:

4. Lack of adequate frontline agricultural extension officers

More Details on this from this paper

 

Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia

Dear All,

It is so encouraging to get highlights of various initiatives and thoughts. I am inspired by the WOUGNET's initiative as explained by Moses, in which an attempt to generate local relevant content has been highlighted. The TECA 'Online' Knowledge Base by FAO highlights some success story which has inspired me, and I see all these points related to the generation and management of Local and Relevant Content for family farmers.

At the heart of agricultural and other related information access and knowledge exchange is content. Farmers usually find more useful, content which has been repackaged to suit their information needs, is dynamic, delivered through a medium which they find comfortable to use and convinient to access, from trusted sources, and preferably in whose generation they have participated. 

Family farmers belong to a culture, a community, they have indigenious languages, levels of trust for local leaders and whoever and whatever they perceive strange. Depending on the community's norm on these issues it would determine the level of trust as well as whether they can buy into an initiative. Family farmers are interested in local content which is dynamic, relevant and close to their traditional way of life. The language used, the personalities involved, as well as, the cultural touch between the content and their way of life, all have an influence on the level at which family farmers will adopt, use and apply the agricultural information /content or use the communication services offered. 

ICT tools makes it possible for participatory content management approaches to be used. Simple and easy to use ICT tools such as mini-video cams can be made available to family farmers or simply with their simple mobile phones with camera features, can be trained on basic use of these devices to record their activities, group discussions in focus groups, or capture images of pests or other challenges and share them with peers or experts, for possible help (Information access and knowledge exchange). As part of some Contest by YPARD in 2012, I did a short video on challenges a young female farmer was facing and how the use of ICTs can be of help, I used my simple handheld digital cam to record this and free software to edit it... while doing this, I was also training 2 11th grade students on story telling... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx1D0rCDh6U . This is a typical example of how these simple tools can be put in the hands of family farmers... Another effort is that of the story telling project http://i-am-the-story.ning.com which produced free tutorial guides for young people to tell stories using handheld cams and mobile phones, and sample videos are there... We have to appreciate here the fact that the common government extension officers are for instance in Africa, insuffient. Besides it should be noted that local content can be strategically combined with other content provided it is repackaged to suit the local language, medium of delivery, and the cultural aspect; a local touch.

Thus, ICT tools and communication services engage family farmers in accessing information and exchanging knowledge even more effectively and sustainable by involving them in the content management cycle, placing an emphasis on a Local Content approach.     

Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia

It is very interesting to note and reflect on Christiane's point; "community media are great but they need to be used in a process where participatory approaches and the people themselves play the main role." Many youths easily adopt ICTs with less challenges, access more ICT tools such as mobile phones and radio, and frequent public access centres, as compared to other groups of population in communities. On the other hand, especially in rural areas where levels of literacy are low, the youth are usually adopters and intermediaries of a different range of information; they acquire, disseminate and help the rest of th community understand information. A simple level of education such as Junior Secondary, with just basic reading and writing skills in the local language and an initial level of understanding of the official language, qualifies the youth to be intermediaries in their communities.

When a participatory approach is in place in whatever model, requiring for instance the formation of learning groups/ clubs, the energetic and enthusiastic youths are usually in the fore front to pick up roles and actively participate in the activities of such groups. They are eager to lend their time and volunteer in their spirit to learn and seek leadership roles and experience. Care consideration and motivation coupled with an inclusive approach, even motivates the youth to participate more.

There are various factors behind the active role of the youth, such as identifying and understanding as well as strengthen their source of motivation. For instance, when the youth receive training to build their capacity in content generation, say, training a group of youths in video production at a telecentre so that they can work with the agriculture extension officers and other stakeholders in recording participatory groups in the community, the sense of empowerment, leadership and identity in the community, is in itself a motivating factor.

In addition to this, the generation of content which suits their style and generation, such as combining learning with entertainment increases the chances of the youth to adopt content and participate in its generation and improvement. Meanwhile, youths in communities do not work in isolation, they are part of bigger families and influencial when it comes to information intermediary. Therefore, as they consume information they share it with families to improve their farming activities and other cross cutting issues such as health. I recall these points I grasped from discussions with various young Volunteers at Sikwane and other Nteletsa Telecentres in Botswana, on 2011, how they got motivated to volunteer at community telecentres and in the generation of content, and whether their families supported this, and if so what benefit, their families expected to get from their children's involvement in community service.     

Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia

I have not been involved in the implementation of this project. I learnt about when a case study was presented by PSAf during the ICT in Agriculture Media Forum co-hosted by Southern Africa Telecentre Network and PSAf . I have contacted the Media and ICT for Development Officer at PSAf to share the full case study and asking him to join this forum. 

The project approach has a strategic model which gives a clear picture of how RLC function, since I can upload pictures here to show the model, I have shared the presentation from PSAf on the same. We can download and have a quick view: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Bb7UqAEU5Bb2VFUlgydk9EdGM/edit?usp=sh...

 

Simon Wandila
Simon WandilaSouthern Africa Telecentre Network / YPARDZambia

Greetings to you all from Zambia. I am delighted to be part of this important forum. Most importantly I wish to express my gratitude to the organisers for allowing young people to contribute a voice to this important event. I look forward to grow my network and improve my knowledge and understanding of this subject.

Communication, Community Media and ICT  have the potential to generate relevant content required by family farmers to improve their farming activities and live a meaningful life, among other factors because of their locality and understanding with the community.

An example is the convergence of community radio and public access centre (Telecentres) to provide platforms for family farmers to participate in debate and voice on matters affecting them, as well as, to contribute to discussions on policy matters affecting family farming. An example of this model is a project by PANOS in which they integrated telecentres into community radio stations in Zambia. Read this article for details:

http://www.ypard.net/2011-november-3/convergence-radio-and-icts-agricult...

The use of telecentre ICT tools and equipment to generate relevant content to support family farming is revelaged and the content is disseminated through the community radio, and farmers use ICT tools such as radios and mobile phones to suggest content , evaluate content or simply participat in dicussions.