13 November 2005

FAO's e-agriculture activities

In the run-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) meetings in Tunis, Dr Anton Mangstl - Director of FAO's Library and Documentation Systems Division - talked to CTA's ICT Update magazine about his organisation's activities in e-agriculture and in bridging the rural digital divide.

Among many FAO effortss in this area, he highlights the Bridging the Rural Digital Divide (BRDD) programme, the Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK), the Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) initiative, and the Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON) model.

Since he feels that the weaknesses of many efforts to bridge the rural digital divide "lie not in the infrastructure and tools, but in the process of their adoption and use" he argues that a major focus of these FAO initiatives is "on education, information sharing and communication."

He concludes by questioning the usefulness of the term 'e-agriculture' as a way to influence policy agendas for rural development mentioning that the FAO is preparing a position paper that defines e-agriculture and its potential impact on rural development and food security.

This is part of a series reporting on agricultural information and communication activities at the Tunis phase of the WSIS.




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