Information, Communications & Extension

The ICE thematic group contributes to achieving LRD objectives of improving food security and well-being of member countries by promoting innovative extension approaches to communicate information and promote new technologies for the sustainable management of agricultural and forest resources.
 

Using information technology to support development of young people in agriculture
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 13:59


With the increasing focus on the agriculture sector, the potential of information and communication technology (ICT) applications to support development of young people in the area of agriculture is receiving more and more attention.

In 2013, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) organised a pilot ‘hackathon’ in Rwanda, focusing on the agricultural sector and rural development. The hackathon is an event during which ICT application developers and computer programmers collaborate with representatives of the agricultural sector and other sectors linked to development to develop ICT applications or platforms to solve an agricultural or development issue.

In countries making up the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the penetration of mobile phones has exploded, presenting a potential opportunity for innovative uses of mobile applications. Young people are spearheading the development of ICT applications; however, they face challenges in better understanding the issues faced by agricultural stakeholders, a lack of support in launching these new applications and a lack of support from governments in encouraging more young people to pursue careers in this area.

Thirty-seven attendees from ACP countries, including ICT hubs, agricultural experts, and ministries of agriculture, farmer organisations, and International organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) attended a workshop in Nairobi, Kenya to learn from and follow up on the ICT for Agriculture (ICT4Ag) hackathon experience in East Africa. The workshop showcased successful initiatives such as the Ensibuuko, a mobile and web-based application that integrates SMS and mobile money to enable saving and credit associations to handle savings and make loans to smallholder farms, and other ongoing initiatives such as Outbox, a community-led coworking space providing support to startups in creative and technology fields through partnership with Samsung, Deloitte and Google.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through its Land Resources Division, is working towards implementing the European Union-funded Pacific Agricultural Policy Project (PAPP). One of the activities is to establish effective market information services for smallholder farmers in the Pacific region. More and more farmers and young people are using mobile phones, so activities that focus on working with developers to create and deploy mobile applications for the agriculture sector may also provide a way to support young people to venture into ICT innovations and entrepreneurship. The EU funded PAPP project will assist sectors to strengthen the link to markets through farmer associations.

ICT initiatives highlight the need to ensure that there's sustainability of these initiatives as it can be a major challenge, especially raising funds, so the idea of having a multistakeholder ecosystem to look into cost sharing initiatives is imperative. It is also important to create partnerships with ministries responsible for ICT and agriculture, which can assist in providing support towards such initiatives.

The ICT4Ag hackathon workshop, which started 11 July, discussed the results of the implementation of the initiative and the possibility of replicating the hackathon model in other region such as the Pacific and the Caribbean.

The initiative is conceived in the framework of ICT4Ag activities, which are facilitated by the Agriculture Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society project. The hackathon workshop ended on 12 July, prior to the international conference on ‘Revolutionising finance for agricultural value chains’ which was held in Kenya, 14–18 July. Attendees from the Pacific region included representatives from Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu, as well as two SPC staff members. SPC continues to work with CTA and ACP countries to implement the ICT for agriculture initiatives in the Pacific region.

CTA also selected and trained 25 on-site social reporters to report live from Nairobi during the conference. During the two days prior to the conference they received intensive training on how to disseminate agricultural information effectively. Two of the reporters were from the Pacific (Papua New Guinea and Fiji) whilst the others were from the African and Caribbean countries. All the young reporters had a similar interest in agriculture and rural development and social media skills. They played a vital role in keeping everyone informed live during the conference.

For more information on the meetings and workshop, please email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For information regarding the Revolutionising finance for agricultural value chains workshop (14 to 18 July), please click here: http://www.fin4ag.org

The following link listed provides video interviews of Ms. Mereia Volavola of PIPSO and Mr. Nafitalai Cakacaka of FDB.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvi1hA-fd2c - Supporting agriculture from Africa to the Pacific: Nafitalai Cakacaka

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwR9Iii9EUI - Learning from the Plug and Play Day: Connecting Pacific farmers through innovative applications: Mereia Volavola

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzganrqGgiI - Youth and financial management in agribusiness: Mereia Volavola


Photo Credit 1: CTA
Photo Credit 2: Caleb Kemboi

 
ICELRD’s core business is to improve the food and nutritional security of the Pacific Community through the sustainable management and development of land, agriculture and forestry resources. This is accomplished through the delivery of technical support, training and advice to our member country governments in the areas of plant protection, conservation and use of plant genetic resources, animal health and production, agroforestry, sustainable systems for agriculture, forestry and land management, and biosecurity and trade facilitation.

The Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services (HOAFS) is the leading regional body providing guidance to LRD work plans. The biannual HOAFS Meeting endorses LRD work plans and budget. The office of the LRD Executive acts as the Secretariat for HOAFS.