20 June 2009

ICTs and agricultural science - notes from the Science Forum workshop

Last week's Science Forum in Wageningen included a workshop on information and communication technologies - ICTs. Organized by Ajit Maru from GFAR, Some 50 people joined intense discussions on a broad range of ICTs and their future potential application in agricultural sciences for development.

The overall conclusion of the workshop discussions was presented by workshop facilitator Peter Ballantyne to the Forum plenary on the Wednesday afternoon:

"Much more participatory, collaborative, creative and ‘impactful’ agricultural science and innovation is possible by investing in ‘ICTs.’ Not just for the scientists, but along the ‘chains’ of producers, traders, and consumers."

Some other 'bullet points' from the presentation:

The trends - or waves - of the ICT world likely to positively impact us in the future include:
  • Pervasive low-cost and mobile connectivity, across many different devices and platforms, reaching far beyond traditional research communities;

  • Exponentially growing processing power, allowing complex problems and large data sets to beunderstood and handled; 

  • 'Clouds' of shareable tools, applications, and intelligently-linked content and data, putting massive storage and sophisticated tools within the reach of all; 

  • Growing capabilities to collect, analyze and re-use massive distributed collections of data, opening up new possibilities to carry out science across borders;

  • People and ‘crowds’ empowered to create and manage data and information, allowing the multiple knowledges of different people to be mobilized. 
Full details from the group discussions will be brought together with the background paper, thinkpieces and the summary presentations into a report.

See materials from the workshop on the GFAR web site.

by Peter Ballantyne

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