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Question 2 (opens 14 Nov.)

 Question 2: What are the priority areas that producer organizations should invest in with regard to ICT?

 


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Lalaine Vitug-Mallari's picture
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Recommendation

There is a need for broad-based and equitable access to ICTs in rural areas consistent with ongoing processes of decentralisation, democratisation and policy revisions, in the context of global and national governance considerations. There is a further need for the adjustment of policies and awareness-raising with respect to capacity building in the context of emerging ICT opportunities.

(http://www.fao.org/sd/Cddirect/CDre0055a.htm)

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Producer organizations and ICT

<html><head></head><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">To answer the question about the priorities for ICT investments for producer organizations (POs), I believe one should go back to the reason why small holder farmers/producers create an organization of their own: as individuals they have limited access to services and markets, also little voice in policy making spheres. &nbsp; ICT should be a tool to better perform the functions for which their members created them: that is access to services and markets, as well as voice in policy making forum. One of the constraints that POs face is how to reach many members scattered over large distances with usually poor infrastructure. &nbsp; POs can use simple technology that most rural people own, that is a cell phone, to communicate information such as improved agricultural practices, prices, weather, etc... . &nbsp;In that sense POs need to invest not so much in hardware, but more in people: that is recruiting/training professionals whose job will be to collect and package the information which will be communicated via cell phones. &nbsp;&nbsp;<div></div><div>Conversely, POs can gather information from their members using cell phones (i.e their needs for inputs, or their estimated quantities of products to be sold via the organization and when). &nbsp;Being able to collect this information is absolutely essential for PO to negotiate the sales of members' product in high value markets. &nbsp;The investment is less in hardware that in the software and in professionals to collect the information from members via cell phone, and aggregate it. &nbsp;<br><div><br></div><div>One of the POs' &nbsp;weakness &nbsp;is often the lack of transparency about the functioning of the organizations and lack of communication between leaders and members. This is even more problematic between second and third tier organizations and grassroot organizations, as Pierre pointed out. ICT can be a tool to improve transparency&nbsp;as well as bringing members and leaders closer via two way communication. &nbsp;Again the investment is in the packaging of the information that will be communicated to the members and vice versa. &nbsp;As one of the participant pointed out, ICT is about the empowerment of resource-poor people and in this case the empowerment of PO members.</div><div><br></div><div>Having said that, a number of you highlighted the essential use of ICT (i.e computer and software) to improve the financial management of an organization, which I agree is key.</div><div><br></div><div>Marie-Hélène</div><div><br><div><div>On

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Key issues and recommendations

 

Other Key Issues and Recommendations http://www.fao.org/sd/Cddirect/CDre0055a.htm
 
1.  Finance/Sustainability:  ICTs for rural development are not given sufficient priority in national budgets. Strategies for financial sustainability for the use of ICTs in rural development need to be formulated. Investments in ICTs should be assessed in the context of their contributions to long-term human capital development in areas such as health care, skills development (e.g. for employment), continuing education and environmental management.
 
2.  Design:  There is a need to develop ICT strategies for rural areas taking into consideration differences in languages, culture, socio-economic conditions and infrastructure. There is also a need to encourage the private sector to invest in the design of ICTs appropriate for use in rural areas. ICTs should be linked to traditional communication forms to meet identified needs and reach specific groups (e.g. rural radio linked to the Internet).
 
3.  Capacity building: The realisation of the opportunities offered by ICTs for rural development and food security require a culture of information and new skills. The private sector should be encouraged to extend its current involvement in technical training for ICTs to rural areas and efforts should be made to ensure new opportunities for training in open source as well as proprietary software.
 
4.  Content / Applications:  There is currently a shortage of content, applications and access to existing data of particular interest to rural development and food security. Beyond physical access, data need to be timely, retrievable and easily applied by a broad range of users. There is now the opportunity for participation by small and decentralised content providers, ensuring that information is available in local languages and reflects local cultures.Rural development institutions should provide support at the local level for rural people to generate their own content and applications.
 
5. Studies: There is incomplete information about the use and impact of ICTs in rural development.There is a need to extend the monitoring, evaluation and documentation of successful and unsuccessful applications of ICTs for rural development and to develop models for identifying strategic future investments and programmes.Research and pilot projects on the role of ICTs in support of rural development should be extended. http://www.fao.org/sd/Cddirect/CDre0055a.htm
 
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prioritization for producer organizations

Dear Lalaine,

These are indeed important issues in ICT4D, particularly at the policy level. Much has been discussed on these points in past e-Agriculture forums.

Can any of these points be refined to guide producer organizations in prioritizing investment (time/money) in ICT? As we know, many of these organizations are small and have very limited resources.

Lalaine Vitug-Mallari's picture
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refinement

I beleive that the refinement of organization policies as regards investments will all depend on the thrusts of the organization. Their priorites will all depend on key areas such as vision and mission and  organization thrust/focus, and their strenghts. For istance, if the organization's thrust and focus is on research then the organization may be of help in doing research that would contribute to the development of ICT for use in rural development, agriculture and the like.

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Other key issues and recommendations

Hi Lolaine,

All five of the key issues you highlight are should be part and parcel of all ICT adoption strategies and plans. I would add only one caveat and that is that such strategies should be implemented in a staged approach proceeding from the simple to the more complex, with plenty of flexibility to back out of the process or shift objectives if the  process proves to be too costly or risky.

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flexibility

Yes I also believe in flexibility and moving in stages from simple to complex.

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Financing/Sustainability Issues

Hi Lalaine,

You are corrent in pointing out that financin and sustainability are major concerns in pursuing ICT in producers organization. I mean, in the Philippines, it is very difficult to fully adopt ICT in local agricultural cooperatives for the following reasons:

1. High cost of purchasing desktop / laptop computers.

2. Non-reliable inmternet service in rural areas

3. Absence of trained IT personnel to administer the cooperative's IT resources

 

Local cooperatives can pursue social mobilization program for corporations to donate their computers which are more than five years old to local organizations such as agricultural cooperatives. This will jumpstart the efforts of local cooperatives adopt ICT for development.

We just have to think out of the box in order to finance ICT in agirculture.

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mobilization as part of priority areas

Hi yitzhak613,

Yes, just like in advocacy work, mobilization is an effective strategy to be included in priority areas for the producer organizations to consider.  It is through mobilization that people find support in their endeavors, especially, if it is coupled with networking with the right groups to promote the product/services of the cooperatives, for instance, in the agriculture sector. 

In mobilization and networking strategies, the use of ICT will be crucial to the producer organizations if they are to attract supporters and  members alike who have the necessary resources they are willing to share.

 

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What Producer Organizations Should Invest On

 

Once ICTs are available and given that the users are well trained in the use of it, I suggest that producer organizations must prioritize to invest on appropriate software which will enhance the collaboration between them and the farmers and form researches and extension services. The easiness and up-to-date sharing of experiences, lessons and even news (especially weather reports) will increase adaptability and accuracy in farming mechanisms. Farmers’ struggles and questions can be answered with a nice dialogue.
 
Another is a software on simple accounting which I believe would be helpful for farmers and will distant themselves with the opportunists mushrooming nowadays.

Readings from:

Kelly

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What producer organizations should invest on

Hi Kelly,

The answer to that question depends a lot on what are the short and long term business information needs of coop members and their cooperative, and what they and their cooperative can afford to purchase and maintain in the short and long term, and of course what is available and serviceable locally. Everybody wants 24x7 access to the Internet and the Web, why not? But few can afford it.

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What producer organizations should invest in

Yes, John! It is very true that internet access is a very big problem the reason why in spite of the proposals or recommendations for the software and even bills to be passed to the senate to develop ICT in agriculture sector, it is still the lack of budget allocated to the department that remains to be the problem.  It has to be the priority and must consider being a long term plan so that they could muse that the fund allocated would be worth it though it would cost much than the previously distributed fund.

Thanks!

Kelly

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role of the public sector

Just a note following Kelly's post that on Monday next week we'll open a question about how the public sector can support producer organizations use of ICT.

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Networking

 I think one of the priority areas that producer organizations should invest in with regard to ICT is the transfer of information and knowledge rapidly over large distances through communications networks. The use of networking  such as social networking might as well help in information dissemination. In a way, it does not need so much of investment (money).

 

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social web...

Hi Gigi, if I may add, ICT offer opportunities (seeing communities evolve into virtual networks and e-communities interact via internet telephony) for participatory approaches to knowledge sharing recognizing that many actors are involved, hence, it follows a lot of different sources, forms and types of information and knowledge  will be shared, communicated, aggregated, and circulated supporting agricultural research for development.  

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priority areas that producer organizations should invest in

Based on actual practice observed, one of the more effective ways to effect change from the point of view of producer organization in helping their target beneficiaries, i.e., farmers.  is to capacitate them -- providing training using traditional media  technology (for example, threater/play) that would enable them to understand the process, participate  and use the newly acquired skill to their advantage.

As we have done in a similar setting but with different audience or target group, capacitating the target group opened up understanding and acceptance of the new technology being introduced to them, and allowing them to participate fully in the process of research, formulating solutions and recommendations to their issue at hand.

This has been done in the past, as stated in one of  the documentations made by the United Nations in one of their projects on ICT and traditional media. 

Please refer to this site for their pdf file:

http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd16/sideevents/presentations/14may_f...

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priority areas that producer organizations should invest in

That's very true, Sansu! Having the farmers to be involved in the process of research and be part in the making of solution are ways to expect cooperation from them. Farmers may be trained extensively but without the first-hand experience they may likely be the worse players in the implementation process of any well-funded projects for the agriculture sector.

Kelly

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farmers...

Hi Sansu and Kelly, I agree, totally. Training and involving these farmers will certainly make a difference. Taking the farmers involvement in the process of research, for instance, emphasizes the importance that knowledge needs to be sourced from different actors with different perspectives (diverse set of actors)- the relations among the actors (network of actors involved in a specific activity) are the key to knowledge sharing and application. This is a major change from rather linear paradigms of knowledge creation and use, according to Ballantyne (2009), that saw research institutes as the creators of knowledge and technology, extension as the diffusers of advice, and farmers as the adopters of new practices, and where the different knowledge and information systems were often quite separate.

Taking PROLINNOVA (PROmoting Local INNOVAtion) as an example, a project of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), emphasis is on participatory innovation development with farmers encouraging 'farmer-led experimentation' and the integration of farming communities into innovation systems promoting kowledge sharing among farmers and other innovation actors, encouraging farmers to compare and share their experiences and to more critically experiment.

Source: DOI:10.1177/0266666909351634

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Producer organizations should

Producer organizations should invest on facility, equipment tools, research and more importantly human resource.  ICT and productivity are linked on how they can make individuals and organizations more productive. Lack of education and understanding of ICT are the greatest barriers to be dealt with if an organization decides to participate and engage successfully in it.

Information is a critical resource, infrastructure is essential but still it is the knowledge, skills, ideas and creative efforts of people that lead to innovation. Can you just imagine if we have hight-tech equipment, gadgets, fast conenction but there is absence of human and intellectual capital?  You can't control or use what you don't know or understand. Ensuring quality human resource development is the only guarantee that ICT will be pro people and will be beneficial.

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I agree to your post, Fatima.

I agree to your post, Fatima. By training as well, human resource in the agricultural sector will become efficient and effective in their tasks. It is also one of the apprehensions of farmers and even the government when they hear producing ICT for the agriculture sector as in the first place it might just be a waste of their time in learning the skills in the use of ICT. But then if it's well introduced and they get acquianted with its benefits, they would gladly accept it and maximize its use.

Kelly

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I agree with you Fatima and

I agree with you Fatima and Kelly that training of human resource in the agricultural sector on ICT is a very vital aspect and so, the need to prioritize it is in order. That is why in my earlier posting (Quetion I) specifically in the field of academe, enhancing the curriculum by strengthening the trainings of agriculture students at that early, on the use of ICT, should be done so that once they get exposed to the world of work ICT would no longer be stranger to them. In fact, they could help farmers be trained and be equipped too to this new media technology. With this, it could have a multiplier effect.  

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In Addition...

Reviewing to your posts, I have few lines to add:

To Yitzchak613 & Sansu,

Social mobilization and cooperation that you mentioned create a social action of sharing and solidarity especially towards those in need and less fortunate, those cannot afford purchasing technological tools for means of communication.

To Gigi,

Networking and linkages can minimize effort, time, and budget and yet obtain the goals of the tasks productively.

To Kelly, Fatima, & Arnel,

Empowering the farmers and human resources to learn and collaborate in the process of the realization of the projects, plans, and producing activities allows them to feel their belongingness to the organization, that they are part of it, at the same time motivating them to be reliable to practice the so-called "co-responsibiity" and become "co-producers and co-builders" for the actualization of the works.  And also they may feel that their worth and capacity are being valued.

 

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Question No. 2

Priority areas for investment in the agricultural sector

This report is the result of a joint cooperation between the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It provides an overview of priority areas for investment in the agricultural sector of Pakistan, which include (i) agricultural research and extension; (ii) the seed sector; (iii) water resources; and (iv) rural finance. Its main findings were presented at the ‘International Roundtable on Agriculture and Water Resources Management’ in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 8-9, 2011.

The opinions expressed in this report are the sole responsibility of its main authors.

http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/rust/docs/Pakistan_inside%20pages.pdf

March

2012

Building a regional future

As we all know, we cannot live without feeding and clothing ourselves or taking refuge from inclement weather, and we therefore need to produce increasing quantities of food, energy, and essential goods and services, from pharmaceuticals to weather forecasts to early warning services. At the same time, we are learning about climate change and becoming increasingly aware of the irreparable damage done to our planet, and we are debating plans to reverse (if possible) the most aggressive environmental processes. Agriculture, in the broadest sense, is tightly related to these issues. It has been one of the decisive factors in the biological, social and cultural evolution of humanity.

http://www.eclac.cl/socinfo/noticias/paginas/3/44983/newsletter18ENG.pdf

Mobile Applications for Agriculture and Rural Development

 The dynamic growth of mobile communications technology is creating opportunities for economic growth, social empowerment, and grassroots innovation in developing countries. One of the areas with the greatest potential impact is in the contribution that mobile applications can make to agricultural and rural development (ARD), by providing access to information, markets, and services to millions of rural inhabitants. For both agricultural supply and demand, mobile phones can reduce waste, make delivery more efficient, and forge closer links between farmers and consumers.

(available at http://www.ictinagriculture.org).

It is our hope that this volume will help ARD policymakers and development practitioners moreeffectively harness mobile applications to generate economic and social opportunities with lasting impacts.

http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INFORMATIONANDCOMMUNICATIONANDTECHNOL...

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Mobile Applications for Agriculture and Rural Development

Hi Rita. I agree with you when you mentioned mobile applications for agriculture and rural development as a priority area on which producer organizations should invest in, especially considering the fact that most of these PO's are small and financially-limited. I've read a few success stories in developing countries like Kenya and Uganda, that have used mobile technology to improve how their system works, and so I believe that exploring more on the adaption of this ICT tool must be a serious consideration.

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success in Kenya and Uganda

Hi Brenda. Can you tell us any more about the success stories from Kenya and Uganda?

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Mobile Applications

Hi Michael,

 

I just love to share some great mobile application we are using here to interact and effectively work with various producer organisations.

We are using a web based sms platform (frontline sms). With it, we are able to gather market info, pests and disease information, new developments and any other key resources for farmers, upload it and distribute it by sms to various farmers from the various POs.

Feedback tells us that there has been a great impact as local producers are no longer cheated by middlemen buyers, they are more prepared to handle certain pests and diseases and are even upto date.

 

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Mobile Applications

Google has launched a text message-based version of its email service targeted at users in Africa.

Gmail SMS can run on so-called "dumb phones" which only have very basic features and no access to the internet.

The service has so far been made available in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18898967

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mobile applications

 AppLab (initiative of the Grameen Foundation) which was developed in Ghana using ethnographic research, needs assessment research, and rapid prototyping methods is another series of mobile phone applications and services that allow people to access information on agriculture and other topics. (Source: IFLA DOI: 10.1177/0340035210378838)

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tell us more!

James, that is really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

I understand you are in Uganda working with the Nakaseke Community Multimedia Centre. Would you tell us a bit more about your work with producer organizations? What types of organizations are these? How long have you been doing this work?

Cheers.

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Mobile Applications

Innitially there existed cooperative stores and organisations where farmers used to meet, discuss issues and keep their harvest, which was later marketed jointly but many broke off this system, citing incompetence in their leaders, poor record keeping and many other challenges.

Following this background, Nakaseke Multimedia Centre joined the local governments and innitiated a campaign to restore such networks and as of now, a good number of POs have opened up. These mainly include; coffee, maize and beans as these are the main crops grown here.

In this innitiative, The Nakaseke CMC worked on designing a web based sms platform using frontline sms, compiled farmers' database (residence, phone number, enterprise involved in) and we have also compiled a list of possible buyers with contact addresses (phone numbers, store locations). (We have had several trainings for these groups on how to access and effectively use the sms service).

After gathering CURRENT market information which includes prices, buyers and their contact info, we send this out via sms. First, Individual farmers are discouraged to sell and deal with middlemen buyers to avoid being cheated. So, they meet and find ways of gathering produce so that they get one better buyer.

The same information is also disseminated to other community members who may have no access to mobile phones through our community radio, and this means that we reach all kinds of communities and people, as radio is considered the cheapest and commonest means.

Also, we are working closely with local governments extension staff at sub counties and other technical people in various agricultural fields to provide possible answers to farmers' technical questions. These questions from farmers usually come back to the Nakaseke CMC also via sms, we send replies (with support of technical staff).

An agricultural show was also designed and in place to specifically answer these questions live over the community broadcaster. So, if some one missed an sms, at least he/she cant miss a radio show. The show also features group members who usually share experiences and success stories.

We been working with these groups closely for the last five years, (though sms service has been here for 1 and half years now).

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Mobile Devices and Their Impact

In July 2010, the number of mobile phone subscriptions surpassed the five billion mark (figure 3.1), further establishing mobile phones as the most popular form of global connectivity.1In their various designs and capabilities, mobile phones can be found in the pockets of the wealthy and poor alike. Even in rural areas, mobiles are growing in number and sophistication. Recent figures suggest that although only 81 million Indians (7 percent of the population) regularly use the Internet, price wars mean that 507 million own mobile phones. Calls cost as little as US$ 0.006 per minute, and Indian operators are said to sign up 20 million new subscribers per month (“The Next Billion Geeks,” The Economist 2010).

Figures for access to mobiles are higher than ownership figures. A survey in Uganda found that 86 percent of those asked claimed to have access to a mobile phone, although only one-quarter of farmers said they actually owned one (Ferris, Engoru, and Kaganzi 2008).

This module highlights the impact of mobile phones on agriculture and rural development by outlining current knowledge and describing innovative practices. The discussion complements information in Module 2 on technical aspects of increasing mobile phone use in rural areas and agriculture. It also serves as a preface to numerous other descriptions of mobile phone applications throughout this sourcebook.

The rise of the mobile phone has been one of the most stunning changes in the developing world over the past decade. The increasing ubiquity of mobiles in developing countries presents both opportunities and challenges, especially for critical sectors such as agriculture. Like other technologies before it, the mobile phone is likely to be the subject of inflated expectations and hopes. To caution against the hype, this module also explores barriers to using mobile phones to benefit agriculture and provides recommendations for practitioners seeking to use the mobile platform to improve farmers’ livelihoods.

http://www.ictinagriculture.org/ictinag/sourcebook/module-3-mobile-devic...

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Mobile Limitations and Disadvantages

I appreciate those discussions that pertain to the whole concerns of building the society particularly those reports from pragmatic study regarding the use of mobile as a means for communication in the agricultural industry.  As well as those media actual practice nowadays of our product organizations in delivering messages to the farmers or fishers.  My creative mind inspires me to think not only the kind of mobile phone our beloved local farmers can afford, as nowadays advanced mobile phones can carry almost all the facets of communications, like radio and television can be integrated in the mobile phone, including calculator for accounting, address book for directory, space for organizing data and calendar of schedule, and the most appreciative is that its connection to Internet where anywhere and anytime information (sending, browsing, and receiving) is truly easy to access, we can even send attachment of documens or files.

While I agree that there are modern mobile phones which can carry, accommodate, and bank bigger and higher data memories, wherein we can send probably messages which contain 200 or even 500 words per text messaging, I am still doubting the capacity of mobile phones.  So, I can see that mobile phones are only good for simple communication and brief instruction although it is handy and advantagous in terms of speed and rapidity, sound practical in sending and receiving messages.  And we can keep up to 1000 text messages but my suspicion is that when we talk about mobile application for agricultural development, I reflect the other side of mobile application and usage with regards to  keeping and restoring files and data of information.  I believe in this situation we will be needing soft and hardware machines in order to process the data and to ensure needed volume files are kept secured.  Hence in this point mobile phones are still on the way to advance yet still limited in terms of sustaining quantity and volume of data of information.

In this way, speaking of managing a farm production, I think mobile phones are not sufficient, especially in today's world where everything must be computerized for both business and formal transactions, even official receipts or any kind of formal and legal writtien communications.  So print out materials are needed in order to be valid and acceptable and I am sure that soft and hardware machines and equipment are more relevant in terms of readability, clearness, quantity of restoring and keeping records, files, and data.

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On Data

Hi Sr. Eva,

The data doesn't have to be stored in phones.  We already have cloud technology where information can be stored in the Net and can be shared to everyone who has access to it.  As for managing farm productions, I believe mobile phones are sufficient for the far-flung areas where there's no electricity.  For them, paper is enough.

Regards,

Harv

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Priority investments in ICT

Loraine mentioned a good point. Financial sustainability should be a major consideration, but the main focus should be on the financial and technical capacity of the cooperative to purchase and maintain the new ICT technology.

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Issues concerning producer organizations and ICT

Hi John! I go with your idea of placing priority in both financial and technical capacity of the cooperatives to purchase and maintain the new technology. However, let me emphasize KNOWLEDGE AND TECHNICAL CAPACITY of the farmer-members of certain cooperatives. Those in cooperatives heavily rely on those few staff that has the technical skills.  Computer skills of most people in cooperatives are low and learning ICT skills is more often not, the least of their priority.  This ties up with HUMAN AND INTELLECTUAL CAPITAL as mentioned by Fatima. Farmer-members of cooperatives should properly see the importance of individual capacity building which is based on their intrinsic desire to learn and use ICT. Cooperative members should actually realize the potentials of the use of ICTs. This in turn is related to another issue which is RELIANCE ON SUPPORT SERVICES SUPPORTERS. Farmers should yes, utilize ICT materials like videos, computing design, and other software products but they should be encouraged to assess and give feedback as to how to contextualize in accordance with the group’s needs. On the financial side, realities like most cooperatives are poor, they are often deficient in infrastructures and are dependent on loan investments should be appropriately addressed.

 

For a more detailed discussion of these issues kindly refer to:

http://www.ifip.dsg.ae/Docs/FinalPDF/Full%20Papers/ifip_25_nissila,%20ta...

 

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Issues concerning producer organizations and ICT

Hi Dolores,

You have raised a very important issue of knowledge and technical capacity of the individual farmers. I share the opinion that the individual farmers need to be sensitized on the need of embracing ICT skills. Fatma puts it clearly as 'Intellectual Capacity'. 

As much as there is strength in numbers (read cooperatives), a group like this can only be as strong as its weakest member. It therefore behooves the ICT service providers in whatever level of the group to ensure that all members (farmers) are able to adeptly use these ICTs. This would exponentially raise the potential profits of the individual and the group as a whole.

Anne

 

 

Dolores Doronila-Borras's picture
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ICT as challenge and opportunity: key to collaborative marketing

Hi Anne,

Thanks for picking up on my line of thinking. Embracing ICT as I have mentioned in my previous take indeed offers challenge among members (farmers) but as you have said it could also exponentially raise the potential profits of the individual and the group as a whole-- a clear presentation of opportunities though.

I therefore would like to emphasize the value of collaborative marketing among producers. After identifying common strength, weaknesses, opportunities and  threats, producers would be in te best position to come out with marketing strategies meant to counteract long term challenges in their produce. This is projection of long-term challenges such as the case of the Praire Lamb located in MInnesota Cooperative did. The Cooperative’s official mission was clear - to develop and provide profitable market opportunities for shareholding members, who consistently produce high-quality lamb and related sheep products. This in a way help them to a jumpstart in trying to innovate in the cooperative area. 

"As much as there is strength in numbers (read cooperatives), a group like this can only be as strong as its weakest member." This statement of yours in essence emphasizes the value of cooperative among producers, thus the word cooperative.

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On sensitizing farmers on ICT

Hi Anne,

Yes, farmers (the older generation) may be less educated, yet, some members of their families who are sent to school can help their parent-farmers in ICT education or new technologies that could help them in their farming activities.  This may sound ideal, but I know some far-flung people who are ICT-illiterates and depend on their children on being oriented/educated even on the simpler types of technology.

 

Sansu

 

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The Benefits of Training the Young for ICT

Yes Sansu and Anne, 

Your brief remarks are correct.  Based on my observations too, even in the rural areas (farmers or fishermen) most of them have cellular phones.  It is true their children especially those  who attained education or those who gained knowledge and experience from the works outside their place, as I mentioned in one of my previous posts are the ones who assist their parents to manage using cellular phones, even in the operation of computer.  I also witnessed that there are those farmers or non-farmers even at their old age still able to adjust in the use of ICT, in my recent adventure in one of the provinces in the Philippines, that area, farming and producing products, their means of communication majority are cellular phones since there is no land line server available yet on that place.

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Sustainable Industry Model

Producer organizations can consider creation of sustainable Industry model.  Also, ICT readiness and usage remain key drivers and preconditions for obtaining any impacts especially in the rural areas.  Thus, producer organizations must ensure that they can provide able support to the rural farmers.

Traditional organizations and industry infrastructures are also facing challenges as industries converge.  This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regulations. Governments can perform policies and regulations to encourage competition and remove barriers to investment.  Governments can also directly invest in ICT infrastructure and services.  In other words, governments can facilitate the technological innovation required for ICT convergence and meet market demands. 

 
- Koy
 
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please focus on ICT in the context of producer organizations

My thanks to everyone who is making time to participate in and enrich this discussion. We are greatful.

As we are now into the 2nd question of the forum, it seems prudent to remind everyone that while ICT has many exciting applications in rural development, here we need to keep the content focused on issues related to both ICT and producer organizations. (Information outside of this context unfortunately cannot be included in the summary report that will be published following the discussion.)

Thank you. Your facilitator enlightened

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R and D

Hello Everyone,

I personally see the need for producer organizations to allocate a significant share of their resources to research and development.  While there has been anecdotal evidence as well as case studies showing how ICT can improve operations among producer organizations, there is still a need to enrich the producer organization knowledge-base with empirical studies aimed at:

1. Theory-building - there is a need for valid generalizations about the role of ICT in producer organizations

2. Model or paradigm development - working, tested, and assessed frameworks would help greatly in how to ensure that ICT operates efficiently in producer organizations

3. Criteria development - effective standards need to be set for ICT in producer organizations, for instance, what kind of ICT medium would work best in a particular producer organization?

Regards,

Bryan 

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Bryan, this is interesting.

Bryan, this is interesting. In the case of limited resources, and an assumption that an organization's goal is not related to the use of ICT itself, is this still the case?

If it is, it would be helpful to see examples of producer organizations benefiting when they elucidate theory or build models/paradigms themselves. Otherwise it would be expected that concerns regarding limited resources will still lead investment elsewhere.

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Response

Hi Michael,

"In the case of limited resources, and an assumption that an organization's goal is not related to the use of ICT itself, is this still the case?"

In a utopian sense, it should be because I personally believe that a good knowledge-base always works toward benefitting any organization, in general.  It's a case of look before you leap and leap only when there is something to fall unto.  This is where the value of theory-building, model development, and standard/criteria establishment lies.  Any organization, in essense, should have had studies to back its objectives and goals.  In cases where there are limited resources, like in developing countries for instance, the need for research and development in these three areas should even take the forefront because with limited resources, wastage should be avoided as much as possible and a good knowledge-base can lessen risky organizational decisions and possibly even faulty investment of resources.

"If it is, it would be helpful to see examples of producer organizations benefiting when they elucidate theory or build models/paradigms themselves. Otherwise it would be expected that concerns regarding limited resources will still lead investment elsewhere."

The efforts of the Asian Development Bank in knowledge management can be one example of my assertion.  Projects that they fund are mostly based on exhaustive studies that are well grounded on theory, are well conceptualized in terms of modeling, and have concretely articulated standards.  This works both ways - it ensures that the funding agency's investments are maximized and it also guarantees success for the funding recipient's program or project.  Many other funding organizations think this way, hence my perception that there really is a need to focus on building rich knowledge bases for organizations.  However, I do agree that limited resources could lead investment elsewhere, but for producer organizations that know better, research and development should really be prioritized.

Warm regards,

Bryan

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  ITU’s Missing Link

 

ITU’s Missing Link Hypothesis forwards that investments on last mile infrastructure development and utilization from the backbone should be made by agencies who deliver basic services such as health, agriculture, education etc.

This begs the question, will ICT technology and services ever be a viable investment destination for the agriculture sector. The agriculture sector is as informatized as other sectors. Hence investments will have to be made. Examples of these range from equipping extension services with digital tools to linking farm production with commodities trading. Nonetheless, can the farmer-producer and his organization be expected to readily make these investments? Hardly, because of the economies of scale are lacking. But there may be other reasons as well:

The commodity that ICT carries is information and knowledge. Indeed, money values can now be attached on this vital commodity, but their nature is ephemeral, not material. Information and knowledge are intangible. Hence, there is lesser propensity to invest in them.

Producers’ associations may have a knowledge dimension. However, they are not yet knowledge organizations since the commodities that they deal with are actual produce, i.e., rice, corn, vegetables, bananas, coffee, etc. Thus, information and knowledge fall way below their list of investment priorities compared to fertilizers, tractors, barns and post-harvest facilities. (Not too long ago, development agencies also had information and communication divisions way below their list of critical units for program planning and budgeting.)

Third, ICT is considered both as a development sector and a development theme. As a theme, it is considered a public good, a utility, and its funding is relegated to public agencies. Up to now, farmers associations still depend on the government for the construction of farm to market roads.

But then again, I may be wrong and contradicted by on-the-ground developments as we upload these posts.

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ICT in producers organization: A Public Good

I agree with Dr. Sandy that as a theme, ICT is considered a public good. Thus, its funding is relagated to public agencies. This is very much true in the case of the Philippines.

I was able to visit the website of the Philippine Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). ATI is the former Bureau of Agricultural Extension. (www.ati.gov.ph). According to ATI's website, the ATI is the "Home of e-Extension in the Philippines". I got intrigued and did some research. True enough, Department of Agriculturre Order No. 2007-003 mandated the ATI to lead in the provision of e-Extension  services in collaboration with the various agencies, bureaus and organizational units of the DA. This is to integrate and harmonize ICT-based extension delivery system for agriculture and fisheries.

The ATI provides e-learning to farmers and fisherfolks. It maintains Farmers' Contact Center which farmers may access via phone, text, or email.

What else can I say? This government agency fully embraced ICT in the provision of extension services to producer organizations. This is a government agency which utilized ICT not just to reach out further towards empowering the stakeholders - the farmers and the fisherfolks., but also to make extension service available which in turn will entice and prod farmers to come to ATI.

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I agree, Bry! Research-based

I agree, Bry! Research-based information is still more reliable for a quality performance and produce. It has to be done and must be done rightfully.

Kelly

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Priority areas to invest in with regard to ICT

If an organization recognizes ICT as a core function, it is but appropriate to have ICT development as a major line item in terms of budget allocation.

Among the priority areas to invest on at the moment in the case of the Philippines in the agriculture sector is to fully develop its ICT infrastructure that should be accessible by the small farmers. In most rural areas, particularly where poverty level is high, ICT seems to be considered as a luxury expense. Thus, the government may strategies and invest to put up local ICT centers which are accessible to farmers where they can browse necesary information on agricultural policies, programs technologies and opportunities. This centers can be likened to what are existing in some areas, the Farmers Information Technology System (FITS) centers. Or these centers can expanded or improved where ICT hardwares can be installed. The different organizations can converege and support each other to sustain such centers. In this way, resources can be optimized and even avoid duplication of activities among organizations and agencies.

 

 

 

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Variables

You are right Susan.  While everyday ICTs, such as cellphones, are more widely used, the complex ICTs used in production is still deficient.  This is perhaps due to the fact that ICT adoption is sensitive to variables such as the location, size and income level of the operation, market access, technological level and the age and education of the producers.

 

- Koy

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Proper Management/Distribution of Functions/Allotted Funds

Yes Susan, I like your idea, if that vision comes to realization through the effort of organizations for budgeting financing ICT development once the need has been recognized.  It could be a big aid to step ahead from the challenges of employing and utilizing the ICT.

I would like to add that proper distribution of labors and functions as well as allocated budget also needs to be look upon and observed.  I think there will be no duplication of works from the point of view of public and private agencies in terms of responding to the social needs, let's say of our country when one organization or agency knows their specific concern, task, and interest and focuses and concentrates merely on its own field of interest and pursuit.  

However, here this is the time where partnerhip and collaboration must be applied while respecting each one's functions and endeavors.  Coordination and participation of many; of the whole community of all sectors are needed.  Plus the opinion that if local people are motivated and encouraged enough to recognize the value of ICT in the improvement of their lives, whether farming or fishing, again completion is easy to materialize.   

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