Home » Developing Nations » Sustainable Agriculture Development And Ict

Sustainable Agriculture Development And Ict

ABSTRACT

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT AND ICT

 

D.AMUTHA M.A.M.PHIL

ASST.PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (AUTONOMOUS)

TUTICORIN.

E-mail: amuthajoe@gmail.com

 

 

                                      ICTs play a key role in improving the availability of agricultural production and market information in developing countries. ICT-based market information systems have a proven track record for improving rural livelihoods in middle income developing countries where they have been introduced. However, these systems are generally limited in scale and have not been effectively replicated beyond the local level. This paper attempts an analysis of the ICT play an important role in bringing about sustainable agricultural development and future perspectives in agriculture and ICT.

 

                                       It is recommended that, in drought-prone and less endowed areas, future ICT initiatives provide information services such as facilitation of access to land records, question-and-answer services, information on rural development programmes, weather forecasting, marketing information, best package of practices for dry land agriculture, information on crop insurance and post- harvest technology.

 

                                     It is also recommended that, before ICT services are set up in a region, efforts are made to develop among the farmers both a satisfactory level of faith in the intentions of the ICT staff and a firm commitment to the goals of the proposed project. It is also suggested that participatory and rapid rural appraisals are carried out to ascertain what information the farmers need. In the process, the farmers’ self-fulfilling faith in the information services provided should be enhanced. It is further recommended that the farmers be instructed in how to get the best possible use out of the services provided.

 

 

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT AND ICT

 

D.AMUTHA M.A.M.PHIL

ASST.PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE (AUTONOMOUS)

TUTICORIN.

E-mail: amuthajoe@gmail.com

 

Introduction

                                    Today a new paradigm of agricultural development is fast emerging: in both developing and developed countries the overall development of rural areas is expanding in new directions; old ways of delivering important services to citizens are being challenged; and traditional societies are being transformed into knowledge societies all over the world.  ICTs play a key role in improving the availability of agricultural production and market information in developing countries. ICT-based market information systems have a proven track record for improving rural livelihoods in middle income developing countries where they have been introduced. However, these systems are generally limited in scale and have not been effectively replicated beyond the local level. This paper attempts an analysis of the ICT play an important role in bringing about sustainable agricultural development and future perspectives in agriculture and ICT.

 

Convergence of ICT with agricultural development

                                     Broad basing agricultural extension activities; developing farming system research and extension; having location-specific modules of research and extension; and promoting market extension, sustainable agricultural development, participatory research, etc. are some of the numerous areas where ICT can play an important role. Several research studies conducted on extension organizations have revealed that the delivery of goods is effective when the grass roots extension worker covers a small area of jurisdiction, with multiple purposes (broad basing). The existing system of large jurisdictions, each with a narrow range of activities, is less effective. However, broad basing requires grass roots workers to be at the cutting edge of extension and master of many trades, which is not really possible. IT can help here, by enabling extension workers to gather, store, retrieve and disseminate a broad range of information needed by farmers, thus transforming them from extension workers into knowledge workers. The emergence of such knowledge workers will result in the realization of the much talked about bottom-up, demand driven technology generation, assessment, refinement and transfer. Agricultural extension systems in most developing countries are under-funded and have had mixed effects. Much of the extension information has been found to be out of date, irrelevant and not applicable to small farmers’ needs, leaving such farmers with very little information or resources to improve their productivity. ICT helps the extension system in re-orienting itself towards the overall agricultural development of small production systems. With the appropriate knowledge, small-scale producers can even have a competitive edge over larger operations. When knowledge is harnessed by strong organizations of small producers, strategic planning can be used to provide members with least-cost inputs, better storage facilities, improved transportation links and collective negotiations with buyers.

                                 ICT can also play an important role in bringing about sustainable agricultural development when used to document both organic and traditional cultivation practices. Developing countries can create Traditional Knowledge Digital Libraries (TKDL) to collect and classify various types of local knowledge so that it can be shared more widely. These libraries could also integrate widely scattered references to Indigenous Technical Knowledge (ITK) systems in a retrievable form. Thus IT could act as a bridge between traditional and modern knowledge systems.

 

Areas of IT convergence

                                  Applications of IT in support of agricultural and rural development fall into five main areas. These are:

Economic development of agricultural producers;
Community development;
Research and education;
Small and medium enterprises development; and
Media networks.

                                  Some agricultural development services that can be provided in the developing world, using ICT, are:

Online services for information, education and training, monitoring and consultation, diagnosis and monitoring, and transaction and processing;
E-commerce for direct linkages between local producers, traders, retailers and suppliers;
The facilitation of interaction among researchers, extension (knowledge) workers, and farmers;
Question-and-answer services where experts respond to queries on specialized subjects ICT services to block- and district-level developmental officials for greater efficiency in delivering services for overall agricultural development;
Up-to-date information, supplied to farmers as early as possible, about subjects such as packages of practices, market information, weather forecasting, input supplies, credit availability, etc.;
Creation of databases with details of the resources of local villages and villagers, site-specific information systems, expert systems, etc.;
Provision of early warning systems about disease/ pest problems, information regarding rural development programmes and crop insurances, postharvest technology, etc.;
Facilitation of land records and online registration services;
Improved marketing of milk and milk products;
Services providing information to farmers regarding farm business and management;
Increased efficiency and productivity of cooperative societies through the computer communication network and the latest database technology;
Tele-education for farmers;
Websites established by agricultural research institutes, making the latest information available to extension (knowledge) workers and obtaining their feedback.

 

Future Perspectives in ICT

1. Shared Computing: Developments in shared technology, under the umbrella of cloud computing, are reducing costs and changing the equation on speed, complexity, and risks associated with deploying both application and computing services.  An increasing number of technology providers now offer services based on remote computing and on a subscription or pay-for-usage model. For example, Software as a Service (SaaS) providers host applications that are offered on demand or by subscription. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) models provide remotely managed hardware services, enabling customers to pay based on their use of servers, storage, and networks.

                                           Since the 1990s, there has been increased attention among developing nations on providing different forms of shared access or community computing, commonly delivered through “telecenters.” These shared technology access centers offer rural communities the ability to use Internet-based services in a publicly shared manner. Telecenter pilots in multiple countries have led to innovative economic models around such centers, and have sparked the development of rurally relevant ICT-based services. Typically, these include education, microfinance, and government-to-citizen services.

 

2. Attracting Investment:  Over the last decade, there has been a quiet revolution in the ICT sector of countries in the International Development Association (IDA)—countries that can least afford such investments. A total of US$16 billion was invested between 1997 and 2006; more than 80 percent of it from the private sector.4 The World Bank has been working actively with governments to establish an Internet backbone infrastructure and to increase Internet access through public investments that, in turn, attract additional private investment. Globally, the 3.7 billion people at the bottom of the economic pyramid have incomes averaging about $2 per day; totaling $2.3 trillion annually and growing at 8 percent per year.5 Private-sector companies are showing an increasing interest in serving this large potential customer base with innovative services based on new business models.

                                     Various microfinance initiatives illustrate the capacity of rural citizens to operate busi­nesses and profitably serve their fellow citizens. For example, the Grameen Bank provides non-collateral credit to the poor for micro business in Bangladesh,6 and Kiva.org provides similar credit funded by individual donors.7 The entrepreneurs helped by these programs range from women who operate cell phones for community use to people who sell and maintain solar-powered home systems. These innovative experi­ences in microfinance provide valuable insights into how to attract entrepreneurial talent and micro investment.

 

3. Ecosystem Collaboration: Social networking and emerging tools such as wikis, blogs, and video sharing have dramatically changed the ways people collaborate. It is now easy for dispersed com­munities to share, discuss, and develop solutions. These tools and a new culture of open sharing are enabling dynamic collaboration within organizations, between organizations, and among communities. Collaboration technologies can bring together a deep and broad ecosystem of stakeholders to solve complex issues. Global alliances such as the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (GAID) illustrate the use of such technologies. GAID’s online community has many emerging social networking features that encourage both individuals and formal groups to join, contribute, and collaborate.

 

Internet for sustainable rural economic development

1. Connectivity to the last mile: Extending last-mile connectivity requires a framework that drives “coopetition” among telecom service providers to spur innovation and drive down costs; a program that combines rural demand generation and initial pub­lic investment to attract private investment; and collaboration among an ecosystem of partners to implement the connectivity infrastructure.

 

2. Telecenters: Attracting private investment for telecenter operation requires the establishment of regional services agencies that develop locally relevant service offerings and market them to rural entrepreneurs who set up and run the telecenters. Telecenter operators act as facilitators for the local community’s flow of informa­tion. The regional services agencies should be for-profit enterprises, supported by public-sector policies that offer some level of exclusivity for a region or for certain e-government services. This gives the agencies time to recoup their initial investment.

 

3. Smart services: Telecenters provide the delivery mechanism for a wide range of solutions, including those that improve the quality of life via healthcare education, those that reduce the cost of needed services such as land registration or subsidy applications, and those that enhance agricultural productivity and commerce.

                                The public sector’s role is to lead by creating government-to-citizen services and by promoting the creation of critical agricultural information services.  Global technology companies provide proven and rich software platforms for the various services, and can accelerate adoption of shared computing models by forming local alliances and bringing proven technology platforms and skills to developing countries.

 

 

E-Agriculture Services

                                  ICT-based agricultural development services focus on enhancing the skills and knowledge of smallholder farmers and enabling smallholder value chains to improve their competitiveness and flourish.  To identify the right services to offer, public-sector planners need to understand where ICT can have an impact and which services are likely to attract private investors. They can build these insights by synthesizing three areas of analysis:

1. Agricultural value chain analysis helps identify the value chain issues to be addressed and the size of the opportunity for improvement.

2. ICT analysis looks at the feasibility of ICT to address those issues and the size of the opportunity that can be captured.

3. Service value chain analysis determines the financial viability of the ICT services and identifies the ecosystem partners who are willing to invest and deliver those services.

ICT delivers value for value chain stakeholders through:

Knowledge delivery, including access to information, e-learning, and advisory services
Farm planning to help create efficiencies in agribusiness operations
Quality assurance through communication of standards and capture of auditable data
Procurement portals that facilitate input commerce and output trading exchanges
Supply chain planning to reduce cost and create visibility for logistics
Financial services that give greater access to capital and help reduce the cost of financial transactions
Community services that enable rural citizens to access basic healthcare, education, and e-government services

 

Recommendations

Efforts should be made to incorporate ICT in all endeavors related to agricultural development.
The organizations and departments concerned with agricultural development need to realize the potential of ICT for the speedy dissemination of information to farmers.
Government at national and state level in India has to reorient agricultural policies so that a fully-fledged strategy is formed to harness ICT’s potential for assisting overall agricultural development.
Generating awareness among young and middle-aged farmers about the availability of ICT services is the first step to be considered to increase farmers’ participation in ICT initiatives. Older farmers should be brought into the chain of ICT networks at a later stage. Also, since small and marginal farmers are using ICT services, more emphasis should be given to providing information relevant to their farming systems.
Strong interfaces should be developed at village level so that the problem of computer illiteracy among farmers may be resolved. User-friendly software, graphic interfaces and pictorial information would encourage more IT use.
It is recommended that, in drought-prone and less endowed areas, future ICT initiatives provide information services such as facilitation of access to land records, question-and-answer services, information on rural development programmes, weather forecasting, marketing information, best package of practices for dry land agriculture, information on crop insurance and post- harvest technology.
ICT services should provide early warning of disease and pest problems, question-and-answer services, information on cropping systems and planning, best and latest packages of practices for commercial crops, weather forecasting, soil testing and sampling, post-harvest technology, input prices/ availability, farm business information and crop insurance.
It is also recommended that, before ICT services are set up in a region, efforts are made to develop among the farmers both a satisfactory level of faith in the intentions of the ICT staff and a firm commitment to the goals of the proposed project. It is also suggested that participatory and rapid rural appraisals are carried out to ascertain what information the farmers need. In the process, the farmers’ self-fulfilling faith in the information services provided should be enhanced. It is further recommended that the farmers be instructed in how to get the best possible use out of the services provided.

 

Conclusion

                                     To sum up, for appropriate ICT applications and realistic opportunities in the field of development and social change, we need to think about combining situations from inside and outside agriculture. ICTs give the potential of integrating information in a cross-sectorial way, e.g. through ‘mobile databases’. Participatory Information and Communication Technology Development (PICTD) can play an important role in this regard.

 

References

 

Meera, S.N. (2002) A Critical analysis of information technology in agricultural development: Impact and implications. Unpublished PhD thesis, IARI, New Delhi-110012.
Narula, S.A., Sharma, N. (2008) “Implementing ICTs in Agribusiness” i4d,September, 20-22 available atwww.i4donline.net/September08/September08. pdf
Narula S. A., (2008) ” Leveraging ICT to Link Farmers to Markets: A Case of Indian E-Business Models” Paper presented in International Conference on Technology and Innovation in Marketing held at IMT, Ghaziabad, India during 18-19 April, 2008; published in Rajat Gera ( Ed.) “Technology and Innovation in Marketing”, Allied Publishers, New Delhi
Narula,S.A. ( 2009) ” Social Networking…………For Farmers ” i4d, February, available at www.i4donline.net/February09/February09.pdf

http://www.fao.org/GENDER/en/agri-e.htm

http://www.iteaconnect.org/Conference /PATT/PATT14/Wicklein.pdf

http://www.fao.org/Wairdocs/TAC/X5784E/x5784e08.htm

McConnell, S. (2001) ‘Connecting with the unconnected: Proposing an evaluation of the impacts of the Internet on unconnected rural stakeholders.’ Mc Connell International. http:// mcconnelinternational.com/evalnation.html World Bank, IDA, 2008.

10.  The Next Billions: Unleashing Business Potential in Untapped Markets, World Economic Forum. January 2009.

11.  Grameen Bank (www.grameen-info.org), 2009.

12.  www.kiva.org, 2009.

13.  www.un-gaid.org, 2009

Posted in Developing Nations and tagged as , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>