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ICT in Agriculture2nd November 2015
ICT Information and Communications Technology – or
technologies (ICT) is an umbrella term that includes all technologies for the manipulation and communication of information.
ICT in fact encompasses any medium to record information (magnetic disk/tape, optical disks CD/DVD, flash memory etc.); technology for broadcasting information – radio, television; and technology for communicating through voice and sound or images – microphone, camera, loudspeaker, telephone to cellular phones.
Role of ICT in Agriculture The role of ICT in agriculture was
identified as a key Action Line during the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in 2003 and 2005.
CIARDCoherence in Information for Agriculture Research for Development (http://www.ciard.net)
CIARD is working to make agricultural research information and knowledge publicly accessible to everyone.
IMARK The Information Management resource Kit (
IMARK is a partnership-based e-learning initiative targeting the effective management of information to address the information needs of people who are not in the classroom milieu. IMARK consists of a suite of distance learning resources, tools and communities on information management.
Setup by FAO to access Digital Library in field of Food, Agriculture, Environmental Science and related social sciences.
AGORA is designed to enhance the scholarship of the many thousands of students, faculty members and researchers in agriculture and life sciences in the developing world.
PRODUCTIVITYResearch: Mobenzi, eRails
Input Supply: E-Vouchers, Kilimo Salama
Production: Crop Calendar, iCow
ICTs in Agriculture
M&E iFormBuilder, EpiSurveyor,
Agricultural Value Chain
Radio Investing/implementing appropriate technologies is of
paramount importance. Radio can be used for mass communication because of
its portability, inexpensiveness, accessibility, extensive reach and longevity.
Radio can help to promote indigenous knowledge and raise awareness of such arts perpetuity. This is critical for survival in face of changing times and extremes of weather brought about by climate change – knowledge of food preservation and crop varieties during times of drought, knowledge of medicinal plants, pest-repellent plants and planting and harvesting times.
Big Data for Agriculture Intel outlines the implication of Big Data
Analyzing Rainfall data over a period of 50 year or Pest vector could give valuable insights into important issues such as climate change, weather patterns and disease and pest infestation patterns.
Precision farming, GIS and Remote Sensing These are most promising interventions
for ICT in agriculture. This can be used to establish an agro-
infrastructure throughout a whole country for fostering better agricultural development.
Precision Agriculture A web-based GIS system in rural Malaysia is helping farmers with
paddy lot cultivation with more access to printable maps and data on fertilizer application, according to Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association publication (Che'Ya et al., 2009).
Nitrogen management is reducing costs and enviornmental damanges as a result of a pilot test in Mexico's Yaqui Valley organized by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT 2005).
Satellite technology has helped to identify weed infestations and water stress in areas where crop pest levels are high, according to a study on behalf of the International Development Research Centre (Munya 2007).
PoiMapper is a mobile application being tested in Kenya that could possibly collect information about entire routes and systems such as water and irrigation. Here is a more in-depth evaluation of the application (Pu 2011).
The London Knowledge Lab produced a scholary paper on designing wireless sensing networks and highlights several novel design mechanisms around the world (Kabashi et al. 2008).
Farming Life Cycle FARMING STEPS
Crop Selection Land Preparation Seed Selection Seed Sowing Irrigation Crop Growth Fertilizing Harvesting
Information Required by FarmersCrop Selection
Comparative pricing of different crops. Market demand and sale potential of the crop. Budget required for the cultivation of each crop. Feasibility of the crop considering climate and
quality of land. Crop productivity compared with other
Information Required by FarmersLand Preparation
Effects of any disease from the previous cultivation and steps needed to minimize this impact.
Fertilizers needed to bring land to its normal fertility depending upon the previous crops and fertilizer used.
Layout and design of the field with respect to crop for efficient irrigation.
Latest techniques for leveling the fields and their cost.
Information Required by FarmersSeed Selection
Price and quantity needed per acre Average yield and sprout to sown ratio. Suitability to particular area and climate. Water requirement. Resistance to diseases. Location of distribution offices for the seed.
Information Required by FarmersSeed Sowing
Appropriate time to sow the seed. Optimal weather conditions at sowing
time. Best method for the sowing of seeds. Seed sowing depth.
Information Required by FarmersIrrigation
Critical time for irrigation. Amount of water to be given to the
plants. Frequency of irrigation.
Information Required by FarmersCrop Growth
Number of plants per unit of area. Average growth rate of the crop in normal conditions. Comparison of crop growth rate, leaf size, crop color etc. with expected
growth for given conditions and input. Interventions needed to maintain expected growth. Frequency, quantity and method for fertilization. Proper time, frequency and method for plowing. Proper time, frequency and method for weeding. Expected pest and virus attacks, symptoms of such attacks, precautionary
measure that can be taken in advance to avoid these attacks, immediate actions including pesticide to be used to kill pests and viruses, quantity of pesticide to be used per acre, most effective method for pesticide spray, avoid health issues related to pesticide spray.
Information Required by FarmersHarvesting
Proper time and method for harvesting. Comparative market rates. Proper crop storage. Cost of transportation.
Source of Information Farmers typically rely on following sources
of information: Agriculture department of provincial
government Fellow farmers Field agents of seed, pesticide and
fertilizer companies. TV and radio programs Newspapers
Challenges and RoadblocksFarmers typically face following challenges in receiving timely and personalized information: Farmer has to travel to offices of agricultural department for
information. Radio or TV programs are broadcast at a predefined
schedule which may or may not be convenient for the farmer.
Most of the information broadcast may not be specific to a farmer’s needs.
Fellow farmers do not have the best or most up to date knowledge.
Field agents of pesticide or seed companies are unable to pay frequent and timely visits to all farmers.
So what is the issue! A huge number of people throughout South Asia
are involved in agriculture, however many are not benefiting from it in the ways that they could. In India for example, around 35% of its agricultural
produce is wasted due to supply chain issues. And, whilst nearly half of Pakistan’s population is
employed in agriculture, it is still a net importer of food.
The same is true in Bangladesh where most farmers grind out a subsistence living, unable to make the transition to a more commercialized way of farming which would ultimately lift them out of poverty.
45% of South Asians now have a home PC and internet access is available in some villages.
However, despite best efforts, the technology is still poorly understood and used infrequently.
So, critical data on weather patterns and the latest market prices are still not reaching those who really need it and as a result, smallholder farmers are losing out.
The main phases of the agriculture industry include crop cultivation, water management, fertilizer application, fertigation, pest management, harvesting, post-harvest handling, transport of food products, packaging, food preservation, food processing/value addition, quality management, food safety, food storage, and food marketing.
Challenges Poor literacy level. Lack of reliable connectivity in rural areas. The sheer lack of purchasing power in the rural. The need to have high usage of graphics and voice-
overs in contents. Farmers benefit more from simple technology, which
communicates information, which is relevant and easy to understand.
Door delivery of information is limited by the fact that there are a very large number of farm households and many families may not own radios or television sets and may not have access to a daily newspaper.
Agriculture sector in Pakistan is facing significant challenges. Some of these challenges are: Communication gap between farmers
and agriculture information providers including agricultural advisories and product sellers
Shortage of water, power and capital
The number of cell phone subscriptions has been increasing tremendously over the last few years to the point where mobile phone access has become ubiquitous in almost all countries, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
Mobile telephony solution Information can be sent as text
message or a recorded voice message. Both these channels have their own advantages.
NOKIA LIFE Nokia proposed to introduce a system in
Rural India, using mobiles for dissemination of personalized agricultural information pertaining to market prices of nearest mandis, local news, important information on schemes and subsidies, comprehensive and localized crop and advisory on a regular basis. Twenty four hour weather alerts/forecasts are also provided.
mAgriculture experience Well informed about the market rates of their produce. Reduce the dependency on agents. Time and money saved from not having to make
multiple trips to market place to obtain latest rates. Benefits are having advanced information about local
news, schemes and subsidies, crop advisory from experts, including information about probable diseases, and weather-based advisory and tips for more successful harvest.
Farmers could plan labour, sowing, harvesting and more profitable retail of products, and with more predictable results.
VERON FAO has extensive experience in use of ICT to
improve communication and enhance interaction among agriculture research, extension, farmers and other stakeholders in agricultural innovations and rural development. The Virtual Extension, Research and Communication
Network (VERON) is a conceptual model developed by FAO. Any country can use and adapt it to strengthen the linkages among extension, research, farmers and other stakeholders of agricultural and rural development systems.
e-Agriculture The e-Agriculture community (
http://www.e-agriculture.org) is a global community of practice in which people worldwide exchange information, ideas and resources related to the use of ICT for sustainable agriculture and rural development.
Mind map for ICT in Agriculture
Crop cultivation and harvesting
Access to credit
Land selectionDSS, GIS, Remote sensing, e/m-consulting, KMS, sampling devices connected to networking toolsKMS, e/m-consulting, e/m-learning, DSS, GIS
Networking tools (mobile phones, radios, wireless networks), Management Information System (MIS), e-commerce and mobile commerce
Decision Support System (DSS), modeling software, e/m-learning, e/m-consulting, Knowledge Management Systems (KMS)
KMS, e/m-learning, e/m-consulting, GPS, GIS, computer controlled devices, machine2machine communication and sensor networks
GPS, GIS, e/m-learning, e/m-consulting, computer controlled devices, m2m communication, sensor networks
DSS, MIS, GPS/GIS, e/m-learning
Networking tools (mobile phones, lo-fi technologies) for broadcast
GPS, GIS, MIS, DBMS, tracing devices, m2m communication
Tracing devices, KMS, e/m-learning, e/m-consulting, GPS, GIS
Farm to fork tracing tools – GPS, RFID, GIS,DBMS, MIS, KMS, e/m-learning, e/m-consulting, machine2machine communication
DSS, GIS, MIS, sensor networks, m2m communication
DSS, GIS, MIS, sensor networks, m2m communication
DSS, GIS, management information system, sensor networks, m2m communication