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ICT for agriculture

27 August 2009

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IICD's new book ICTs for Agricultural Livelihoods explores the potential impact of ICTs on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in developing countries. It uses case studies to bring out the need for integrating ICT in national policies and programmes for poverty alleviation in the agricultural sector.

ICTs for agricultural livelihoods: Impact and lessons learned from IICD supported activities

Publisher: IICD, June 2009

Agriculture is an important economic sector, since it provides income and food for a large segment of the population in developing countries.

Intensification of production and increased market orientation are the main processes that can contribute to the future viability of the sector and create income for the people that depend on it.

A productive sector depends on a fruitful and fair interaction between the diverse actors – communication and information flows are critical to this process. The technology and socioeconomic context of the group determines the selection of ICT in terms of content, media and form of communication.

National agricultural information systems are also an important part of a conducive environment for agricultural development. By harmonising existing information sources and making information accessible in appropriate formats, important gains can be made.

The booklet highlights the various initiatives supported by International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) to make agricultural information more easily accessible in a systematised manner using ICT.

ICT can help farmers in isolated rural areas coordinate the information in a central, provide farmers information on input supplies and prices of cash crops such as cotton, maize and rice, as well as more general information on transport.

Several IICD supported projects are working in developing regions and use ICT to facilitate contact between sellers and buyers, promote agricultural exports, facilitate online trading, and make producers aware of potential market opportunities including consumer and price trends in northern markets.

By sharing experiences in this publication, IICD contributes in better understanding of the opportunities of employing ICTs and their contribution to reaching the Millennium Development Goals in the agricultural sector.

Some key points mentioned in the document in mainstreaming ICT in agriculture sector are:

  • Conducive policy environment is necessary to foster the use of ICT to enhance rural livelihoods.
  • Use of standards and common or compatible systems is beneficial to make information easily accessible for end-users.
  • Raise awareness on the potential impact of ICT on poverty alleviation.
  • Integrate ICT in national policies and programmes.
  • Collect and document evidence of impact and on-the-ground experiences of ICT pilot Projects.
  • Involve multi- stakeholder networks to bring in experiences of ICT projects and user perspectives from the agricultural sector.
Source : IICD

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