24 October 2007

ICTs: A golden promise for agriculture?

Anaam Sharma from India's Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (www.csdms.in) alerts us to the availability of a report on the recent e-Agriculture India conference.

eAGRICULTURE India 2007 aimed to understand the role of ICTs (information and communication technologies) in agricultural development. It featured seven sessions looking at ICTs in relation to agricultural policy, agriculture marketing, education, credit, insurance, extension, and resource management.

Among the recommendations:
  • there needs to be a "bottom-up approach to ICT implementation in agriculture."
  • "academic and research data in agriculture – available in the form of journals and research paper needs – needs to be digitalised to facilitate cross-flows of information".
  • "using ICTs for timely market and weather information is key to development in the farming sector."
  • "ICTs can be used to integrate the small-scale farmers and thereby increase
    their bargaining and negotiation power."
  • Cross-pollination of information is required amongst the farmers, the scientists, ICT solution providers, policymakers, and other stakeholders."
To "facilitate" these recommendations, the report concludes that some "basic challenges" need to be overcome: Real time content; Cost of equipment; Non-availability of complementary infrastructure – power, roads, storage, connectivity, etc.; Capacity of grassroots farmers to avail and use the ICT solutions; Access in geographically difficult terrains such as mountains and deserts; and overcoming the initial inertia to adopt the latest technologies.


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