11 August 2008

Only connect? Emerging ICT options and opportunities for farmers

On 26 August, CTA will organise a special session at the upcoming IAALD/AFITA World Congress in Japan.

As a result of geographical isolation, poor communication facilities and limited purchasing power, many people working in agricultural development in ACP countries are unaware of the opportunities and resources that are potentially available to support agricultural development in ACP countries.

This is particularly true in the fast moving field of ICTs which is heavily impacting on agriculture and shows great promise for ACP states. In recent years, for instance, technological advances coupled with falling prices in hardware have led to the appearance and increasing availability of low cost mobile computers (such as the XO “$ 100” laptop from OLPC), affordable wireless connectivity together with dozens of free or very low-cost interactive web applications that greatly facilitate the processes of creating, sharing and publishing information, while at the same time profoundly changing the dynamics of collaboration and resource sharing.

An emerging interest at CTA, the “one laptop per farmer” agenda (OLPF) discussed recently at a WSIS related meeting and in recent weblog articles recognises that the host of technological and infrastructural developments is creating an environment in which devices like the XO laptop (and mobile devices such as increasingly ubiquitous mobile phones and PDA’s) can flourish. OLPC and allied technologies could therefore bring huge benefits to ACP farmers coupled with the huge opportunities for outreach for development organisations such as CTA.

This session aims to create a heightened awareness and stimulate discussion on the OLPF agenda, so as to develop concrete potential action lines in this area by CTA and its partners.

The session will combine insights and perspectives from around the world; the organisers invite comments and suggestions on the issues to be discussed and any related resources that should be considered. During the congress (24-27 August), we will publish blog reports and video interviews from this and other sessions.

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