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Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

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Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

 What factors make ICT-based advisory services for smallholders sustainable? 

 


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Making ICT advisory services sustainable for smallholder

 

Making ICT based advisory services viable and sustainable for small-holders has always been a challenge. Efforts have been made to ensure that these services – reach to small holders, respond to their needs as well as are continuously accessible to the small holders. In most of the developing countries like India, the small holders are largely located in remote villages and are not-so-well digitally connected. Thus, limiting their access to ICT based solutions. Experiences have provided us with few key learning on how we can make ICT viable and sustainable for small holders:

1.       The technology should be suitable to the local context i.e. use of mobile based technologies may have limitation in regions where connectivity is still challenged

2.       Technology should be easy to use, to ensure that  the farmers use it themselves with minimum external support

3.       Experiences have shown that farmers learn better from fellow farmers hence the technology solutions should support and facilitate this.

4.       The ICT solution should be cost effective both in terms of reaching out to small holders as well as ensuring the small holders adopt the practice/s.

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sustaining supply and demand

Thanks Ritu Raj for sharing these key points based on Digital Green's experience. They bring out important factors to keep in mind, particular to ensure the sustainablity of demand for these services. I look forward to comments from you and others on how the supply (provision) of these services can be made sustainable.

cheers

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Sustaining ICT advisory services.

 

Hi Michael,

The supply provision of these services can be made sustainable by integrating the ICT based advisory models within the larger public extension systems. Also where communities are well organised they can pay Rs. 2/3 per screening per video which will help the community to sustain the model by themselves.

 Further, we can work towards influencing governments and private service providers to increase investments in media dark areas and provide mobile connectivity and high bandwidth facility in remote areas which will enable the remote and rural areas to get access to locally relevant information.

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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

Dear All,

Whilst i agree on the approach to implementing ICT advisory services to small holders, i feel connectivity of remote areas is key to achieving service delivery. I would like to suggest that it is cardinal to advocate to governments to prioritize connectivity to remote areas in their development plans by way of stimulating private sector ( service Providers ) invest in rural areas.

Coming to sustainability, my understanding is that provision of information costs money and if the users are able to pay for the service thereby making the system pay for its operation costs and continue to receive a service, then the business model is sustainable. Also i have seen projects funded and when the funds stop coming the project is taken over by a department and activities are funded within the department budget. Others have called such as project being sustainable.

My comment to both situations is that sustainability can be viewed both from these angles. The later, sustainability is seen by way that the activities have been enshrined in the main department which has a mandate to fulfill provision of those services. Richard

 

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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

Dear All,<div>Whilst  i agree on the approach to implementing ICT advisory services to small holders, i feel connectivity of remote areas is key to achieving service delivery. I would like to suggest that it is cardinal  to advocate to governments to prioritize connectivity to remote areas in their development plans  by way of stimulating private sector ( service Providers ) invest in rural areas.</div>
<div>Coming to sustainability, my understanding is that provision of information costs money and if the users are able to pay for the service thereby making the system pay for its operation costs and continue to receive a service, then the business model is sustainable. Also i have seen projects funded and when the funds stop coming the project is taken over by a department and activities are funded within the department budget. Others have called such as project being sustainable. My comment to both situations is that sustainability can be viewed both  from these angles. The later, sustainability is seen by way that the activities have been enshrined in the main department which has a mandate to fulfill provision of those services.
<br>Richard<br><div class="gmail_quote">On Thu, Sep

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ICT-based advisory services for farmers

According to our experiences to obtain the sustainability of ICT-based advisory services the programs should be focus on followings,

1. The contents and informations should be developed according to need of the end users eg. need of farmers

2. Before implementing the program it is needed to ensure the skills of users on ICT. before implementing make sure to give basic knowledge and infrastructure for accesing ICT

3. Contents should be in local languages and they should be in simple and interactive form

4. Advisory services should be upto date and should supply timely and relevant information

Considering above factors also will be help to ensure  the sustainability of ICT based advisory programs for smallholders.

Nisansala

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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

As happens all the time, the only situation in which ICTs make sense is when their introduction starts from the market end, just like we do in implementing value chain models. If we seek to offer advisory services, the solution should start with what makes the farmer produce acceptable by the consumer and then offer services around that going backwards.

Too much focus has been given to mobile solutions which assume that the infrastructure, knowledge and the ability to navigate through the web of products and services will be easy and possible for farmers. Pro-programmed queries whose response is a short message text could provide the kind of online solution that is needed so that farmers whose eyesight is running off with age can make use of the miniature technologies.

If mobile solutions are not the option, then a telecentre infrastructure may be called upon to bridge the gap. In my view and as noted here, the challenge is:

  1. Who will identify the challenges that may pull the farmers to technologically driven information sources?
  2. Who will create interest in the farmers so that they can pursue digital knowledge?
  3. At what layer of a commodity chain should digital technology be used for farmer reference?
  4. What followup mechanism ensures that the farmer uses the technology knowledge disseminated? Do we have experiences that have addressed these issues effectively? Kiringai 
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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

<p style="margin:10px 0px 0.9em;border-bottom-width:0px!important;border-top-width:0px!important"></p><div><font face="verdana">As happens all the time, the only situation in which ICTs make sense is when their introduction starts from the market end, just like we do in implementing value chain models.</font></div>
<div><font face="verdana"></font></div><div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">If we seek to offer advisory services, the solution should start with what makes the farmer produce acceptable by the consumer and then offer services around that going backwards. </span></div>
<div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px"><br></span></div><div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">Too much focus has been given to mobile solutions which assume that the infrastructure, knowledge and the ability to navigate through the web of products and services will be easy and possible for farmers. </span></div>
<div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px"><br></span></div><div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">Pro-programmed queries whose response is a short message text could provide the kind of online solution that is needed so that farmers whose eyesight is running off with age can make use of the miniature technologies. If mobile solutions are not the option, then a telecentre infrastructure may be called upon to bridge the gap.</span></div>
<div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px"><br></span></div><div><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">In my view and as noted here, the challenge is: </span></div><div><ol><li><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">Who will identify the challenges that may pull the farmers to technologically driven information sources? </span></li>
<li><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">Who will create interest in the farmers so that they can pursue digital knowledge?</span></li><li><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">At what layer of a commodity chain should digital technology be used for farmer reference?</span></li>
<li><span style="font-family:verdana;font-size:13px">What followup mechanism ensures that the farmer uses the technology knowledge disseminated?</span></li></ol><div><font face="verdana">Do we have experiences that have addressed these issues effectively?</font></div>
</div><div><font face="verdana"><br></font></div><div><font face="verdana">Kiringai</font></div><p></p><div class="gmail_quote">On W

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Do we have sustainable examples?

Hi All,

I'm wondering if we have examples of sustainable ICT-based Agricultural & Rural Advisory Services. I conducted a study early this year where I asked some of the app developers to self-report the stage of their ICT for Ag solutions - i.e. Piloting >> Scaling >> Sustaining. 

My results show less that 10% (about 15 out of 150 apps) falls into sustainable stage. This was based on either self-reporting from the developers or based on my analysis of their projects.

So as people share these factors based on their experiences, I wish we also cite examples that we think are sustainable ICT-based agricultural advisory services and why we think they are sustainable.

 

Ben

 

 

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Clarification on Sustainable Examples Question

Ben, 

What is your definition of sustainability? I think we should clarify this before giving examples. 

Are you specifically looking for examples where farmers are paying for the ICT innovations?

Are you referring more to examples where donor-funded projects have developed and introduced a technology? In these situations sustainability could refer to whether this innovation is still being utilized by the target beneficiaries after the project, or it could just mean that there is a service provider in place at the end of the project that will continue to offer and  support the service, or both?

Sustainability is difficult to achieve, and, once we all are on the same page about what we mean by it exactly and what we should be aiming for, we can start to brainstorm and discuss models that could work.

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Thanks Laura

I totally agree with you! I think we need to agree (if possible) on a definition. I am not sure what the moderator meant by "sustainable" in the question. That is the driving force for this partcular question though. But I wonder if the definition of sustainability in this case will differ from the century old definition of sustainability in international development projects.

With my study, I was interested in the

i) 'Pilot' as a proof of concept stage where the ICT4Ag advisory service is tested in a small market either with support from donors or self funding.

ii) 'Scaling' occurs after successful piloting and with commercial, the service provider may begin charging for fees while the public services may look more at increasing geographic coverage or adding more complex and advanced services.

iii) 'Sustainable' stage happens when the commercial service provider 'breaks even' and start making profit or may have minor dependence on external support for regular services. For non-commercial services, the continuation after the donor support ends.

Lets' hear from the moderator as well as others.

 

Ben

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Free has NO Value

Yes.. commercialism does rule and the only way to ensure scalable impact and growth is financial self-sustainability.  Revneue doesn't have to be generated solely from the sale of content but also advertising revenue.  It will simply be at the discretion of the enterprise to what commercial enterprise or products they support.   When our sms content was free, no one wanted it. When we charged, more than 1,200 users registered.  We need to stop underestimating smallholder farmers (AKA rural communities) and their potential as commercial consumers.   Yes, I would love to secure grants to continue our proejct development and testing but my fear is we would derail our own success.

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the Real Value of information

Rachel’s point that Backpack Farm’s content was ignored when free, but subscribed to when associated with an economic value is fascinating. Do others have similar or different experiences to share?

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defining sustainablity

The moderator is not going to provide any more specific direction on question 2. :-)

The fact that a discussion about what is “sustainable” has begun here indicates that there will be value in it happening. People who prefer not to debate the term are most welcome to interject examples and ideas about sustainability with a note on what “type” of sustainability refers.

How’s that?

cheers, Michael the moderator/facilitator

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Agreed!

Sure, we all know the controversies with such terms so its better to leave it as it is. On the ground, service providers know whether their ICT for Ag solutions are sustainable or not :).

Cheers

Be

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Example of sustainability

 

Hi all,

My name is Paul Nyende, MD of a for profit private company, operating in Uganda.  I wish to jump in here and give an example of:

i) 'Scaling up' of a successful pilot with FAO and IFAD, as a commercial service provider, where we have been charging fees for an agricultural market information and brokerage service in Uganda (www.agrinetug.net) . We have increased our geographic coverage and further developed the service (business model) to suit our clients.

 

We (AgriNet Uganda Ltd) are also an example of 'Sustainability' that has been initially kick stated external support (contracts from public organizations) and now we have continued to offer the service and earning revenue from offering services from the “real” clients and they (clients farmers & traders) paying for it.

Paul Nyende

AgriNet Uganda Ltd

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Not surprisingly, serious investment

Not surprisingly, serious investment is required to build a "sustainable" advisory service for smallholders where:

1. The content is valuable - demand driven, timely, accurate, and relevant

2. The means of delivery is user friendly - via technology that is suitable to the local context, language compatibile and interactive

3. The service is affordable - robust partnerships between advisory service providers and telecom service providers (who are often not the same) are one way to offer subscription to extremely affordable voice and data services at scale to farmers in a country

Through the e-choupal program (http://www.itcportal.com/sustainability/lets-put-india-first/echoupal.aspx), a private company, ITC limited, provided price info and other ag advisory services to soy (and other) famers in India that also facilitated the sale of soybeans by the farmers directly to them making it not only profitable for the private company to implement the program due to more efficient procurement and lower transaction costs, but also profitable for the farmers to use the service due to higher prices.

what other models exist out there of commercially viable e-extension services?

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Commercially viable e-extension (market brokerage) model

Again, I here share an example of Agrinet (www.agrinetug.net), a private company that does e-market intelligence and brokerage service provision. We use sms mobile phone service, linked to physical information board, strategically located in market places, to collect and disseminate market intelligence. The intelligence collected and disseminated by our network of agents is then used to broker deals, where we earn a commission for each deal brokered 

Paul 

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Esoko Agric Communication Platform

Esoko is a private company based in Ghana and Mauritius that has built a communication medium to facilitate communication and information sharing along the agricultural value chain. Our mobile- and web-based agricultural market intelligence platform can be white-labelled for organizations to collect, manage & distribute information and for smallholder to receive targeted, relevant content directly on their phones. 

We find that the some of the greatest costs to provide valuable service to end users are:

  1. data collection, which requires a huge amount of management to ensure it is accurate and comes at a regular frequency, and 
  2. marketing and continual support to build awareness about the service. 

In order to cover the costs, we earn revenues by:

  1. selling subscriptions to our platform to individuals, NGOs, agribusinesses, and government
  2. charging a fee on SMS 
  3. providing consulting and training services for deployment of the technology

In order to reach smallholders directly, you typically have to have a large distribution force like a mobile telecom. But we have been more successful in getting farmers registered to get information through other organizations like businesses, associations or projects. 

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Highlights of Question 1: Summary of Innovations

The first question, "What ICT innovations are being used for farmers to access and exchange the information they need, and for service providers to provide information to farmers?" has received ample feedback!

I have started a summary of the various innovations mentioned by participants of this forum. This is a brief list, but those of you who are just joining the discussions now might find it useful to catch up to Question 2.

Lisa Cespedes
e-Agriculture Team

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Sustainable ICT-based advisory services

This is where favorable policies and an enabling environment have to be fostered, in order to facilitate the creation and use of a sustainable ICT-based advisory service.  There are many examples of ICT-based interventions in agriculture, health, education and rural livelihoods related projects in Asia. Yet how many of these have moved from pilot phase to a fully functional sustainable initiative? We know of very, very few.

However, the IKSL initiative in India is clearly an example of a successful partnership, which mFarmer has documented as a case study. IKSL is a joint collaboration between the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO), the largest farmer cooperative in India and Airtel, a mobile network operator.

The importance of public-private partnerships in such initiatives cannot be stressed enough.

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Sustainability in ICT interventions

 

Assuming Sustainability is the capacity to endure after donor/grant funds have run out; how many small holder ICT interventions have eventually succeeded as stand alone initiatives? I will say couple of them - if any. How long has it taken them to become sustainable? – this will help us learn how to endure

I am skeptical about the sustainability of supply provision of services because how many people will pay for something they have not asked for or do not need? Most supply driven interventions I have come across send out content/services to masses because they want to make a good report at the end of the day. Yet in reality, that content benefits only a handful. I think there’s need to focus on segmenting who gets what.

In my view what partly hinders agricultural ICT interventions is adoption by smallholder farmers. Most of the applications are designed without putting into consideration the local context and the ability of smallholder farmers to adopt the technology.

Most of the ideas are “wow”!! in workshops and meetings and yet we know that they cannot work right back on the ground. Or if they work, they are short lived.

Take an example, farmers can determine whether what they are buying is genuine or fake. And they authenticate using their mobile phone (any basic phone, no need to purchase a smart phone). The method is similar to loading airtime which they are very familiar with. They pay for the authentication message sent. The idea behind this is, it’s better to pay an extra fee and be sure of what you are buying than buy a fake and it never works – you lose money, time, trust and ……...

I support partnerships as a lead to sustainability but also support business models embedded in agricultural ICT interventions.

What do you think?

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Demand drives themarket

Bruce.. I agree with you on many points but think you are confusing "demand" and "delivery."  There is a demand for agriculture content but we expect our audience to pull this content from us. We do not mass broadcast.  But it is unfortunate that most donor driven projects need to demonstrate uptake or lose their funding.  Yes, a dependency on donor funding has forged a double-edged sword. 

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ICT projects will be sustainable, when?

ICT projects will be sustainable when

the Information is authenticated and need based

when there will be electricity all the time

when there are local infrastructures are available

when there is no band width problems

When our government adopts unique ict policy and

when all our farmers are literate and are able to take up the project ahead....

 

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ICT based agriculture innovation has its cost for smallholders

The sustainability in using ICT for agriculture innovation pro smallholder implies that incomes driven from agriculture or livestock do not regularly dropped, so, it is supposed  that a smallholder makes profit each harvest season. nevertheless, in the normal case,the farming activities do not drain profits for smallholders of developing countries for many well known reasons such as the unforeseeable weather; the lack of good seeds,medicines or land fertilizers;the availability of basic infrastructure like good quality of roads and markets in close proximity of the smallholder disseminated in the inner of developing countries.

It is obvious that the concept “smallholder sustainable” in the appropriation of ICT devices, means somewhere that the small farmer is self-sufficient in long term, he must be able to buy an accurate information related to the agriculture innovation without free external support like the toll-free or the famous Digital Green Indian’s project.

Nowadays, the ICT tools are advantageous to the challenger smallholders  http://www.e-agriculture.org/forumtopics/question-12-other-challenges and  the access on ICT devices doesn’t lead necessary to the autonomous of smallholder particularly in the Africa area which is still in the darkness even if the African inhabitants have rushed in speed for using ICT tools where among them, the radio broadcasting is the most used to acquire the latest agriculture information throughout African smallholders.

I think that in short term, the problem of darkness will be solved for the ICT tools in the Africa which is exploiting more and more its potentiality of solar energy, for example the Econet mobile phone company operating in Burundi has launched in the beginning of the third week of September 2012, a  portable solar lantern called “Econet solar” for providing light and for charging in energy the mobile phones for a cost of almost sixty US dollars which is nothing for many storekeepers living in rural area of Burundi but which is still a big amount for a small farmer living in the same area  http://solarenergy.einnews.com/country/burundi. It is manifest that in fine, the availability of the cheaper solar energy is a new opportunity for the raising of global development in rural area of Burundi.

By the way, if the access of ICT devices for all smallholders of Africa should be solved in  the upcoming days with the plausible integration of solar energy supply incorporated directly in the mobile phones, another problem could happen in selecting relevant information because it is not easy to get right information in the middle of a tank full of useful information like Internet even for well educated person, it means that mediators similar to those seen in Digital Green Model are needed for supporting in seeking the right information and in improving production within those ICT based agriculture innovation. I wonder who will continue to pay the needed free mediators in the competitive economic. May be that the farming sector remains outside of the real economic in some developing countries and if so, the states and the qualitative organizations focused on fighting the hunger and the reduce of poverty in the developing countries have again a long pathway of supporting the “smallholder sustainable” located particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prof Antoine Kantiza, Master Uticef,-

E-mail:antoinekantiza@hotmail.com or antoinekantiza@yahoo.fr

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Factors affecting sustainability and effectiveness of MAIS

FAO co-organized a regional consultation in 2012 that brought together senior officials from agricultural ministries of 12 countries in Asia, representatives of the private sector, and experts in Mobile Agriculture Information Services (MAIS). The main objective of the meeting was to explore the role of public sector in delivering MAIS and to examine the factors affecting sustainability based on examples from the region.  In summary, the main findings that emerged were:

  • Clear policies need to be formulated by governments and the public sector which define the principles for their involvement in the development of MAIS, that also take account national communication policy or ICT policy.  This will require collaboration between the agricultural and telecommunications sectors of government.
  • Partnership with the private sector has been shown to be an essential mechanism for the public sector to develop enhanced MAIS in a sustainable way. The roles and responsibilities for public and private sectors have to be clearly defined in each particular case, noting that the most frequent split of roles is that the former provides the content and the latter provides the delivery mechanism.
  • Trustworthiness/Reliability of the public sector information/advice delivered through MAIS is of paramount importance to the people whose livelihoods depend on actions influenced by the information received.  In this context, clear policy guidelines should be formulated to ensure validity and accuracy of the technical information/advice provided.
  • Accountability for the quality (correctness and accuracy) of technical information/advice delivered through MAIS should be formally recognized by the respective public and private sector actors involved.  This accountability should be defined in any partnership agreement between the actors in MAIS.
  • Ideally, agricultural information services should be platform-independent, given that technology-specific services impose requirements on potential audiences and can greatly limit accessibility.
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  Dear Members, I work for

 

Dear Members,

I work for The Department for International Development (DFID) and I am also a postgraduate student at Birkbeck, University of London, where I am completing a MSc. in International Business and Development. You can find out more about me here: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/marsha-castello/22/73/91a

I am extremely interested in the near ubiquity of mobile phones, the massive growth of mobile networks in developing countries and the huge potential this has in closing information gaps between the developing world and the developed world and thus closing the agricultural productivity gap between these two spheres.

To this end, I am currently writing my dissertation on the socio-economic impact of mobile phones on smallholder farmers. As Agricultural, Development and ICT professionals and/ or users of mobile agricultural information services I would like to invite you to participate in a very short online survey that should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NHMZTT5

All responses will remain anonymous and will be used for no other purpose than to either prove or disprove the hypothesis generated by my dissertation as arrived at by a comprehensive review of the literature on mobiles for development.

Please share with your networks,

You can also connect with me on twitter @mc37077442  or @m4dsurvey

Thank you

 

Kind regards

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Many faces for sustainability (VERCON/RADCON)

 

Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON) was established in 2002 and an institution-based communication network in Egypt (www.vercon.sci.eg ).  The main feature to solve the problems of high technology, connection costs, and farmer illiteracy was to support extension centers with computers connected to the internet, while extension agents help farmers using the network components.

Number of extension centers connected to VERCON in July 2007 reached 96 centers in 18 governorates (out of 26 governorates in Egypt). Agricultural administrations in the governorates and its extension centers are connected to 30 specific research stations for field crops, horticulture and animal production working under 8 regional research stations, as will the connections with the central level like: the central administration for agricultural extension, central administration for research and experimental stations, economic sector, and all related research institutes.

VERCON includes:

  • Systems to provide data: Agricultural economic database system that contains 11 databases for crops, area, production costs, farm prices, wholesale prices, net income, legislations and laws…
  • Systems to provide information/knowledge: Bulletins review system with 231 full content and searchable extension bulletins, and Agricultural news system
  • Systems  to provide expertise: Agricultural expert systems with 5 systems of wheat, rice, tomatoes, grapes and beans supported by related sub-systems for variety selection, tillage, irrigation, fertilization, diagnosis and treatment, harvesting. The other system is the Farmer problems tracking system that contains 11,360 detailed problems and its solution reported by 66,730 farmers uploaded till 1/7/2002.
  • Systems to share ideas and experience: VERCON forum system
  • Systems to track feedback: VERCON monitoring system

Percentages of users rated to: 76.1%  Male, 12.6% Female, 4.9% National and international organizations and 6.4% Undefined. Users professions were: 43.1% Researcher,  34% Extensionists (including those with direct contact with farmers), 9.4% Farmers (free directly connected), and 13.5% of other categories.      

Users affiliation were: 18.8% from Research institutions, 5% from the Central laboratory for agricultural expert systems, 4% Universities, 26.2% from Extension institutions, 0.8% other Governmental entities, 5% NGOs and private sector, 34.1% Individuals, 2.5% International institutions, and 3.5% Undefined.

 In 2005 the network was expanded to be Rural and Agricultural Development Communication Network (RADCON), and more systems were added: Women's corner System, Youth System, Clean Environment System, Market Information System, and NGO system (www.radcon.sci.eg ).

Both networks are functioning, but faced some difficulties that hindered their work like:

  • The problem of ownership affected collaboration and partnership with other institutions.
  • The problem of declining number of village extension agents due to retirement and promotion.
  • Financial support for maintenance, phone and internet bills and incentives.
  • Weak support of decision maker seeing ICT in low priority, and traditional caution to deal with private sector.

This innovation was very successful that it was replicated in other Asian ad African countries advocated by FAO (http://km.fao.org/vercon/).

More details about RADCON as a community-based communication can be found in "http://km.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/vercon/pdf/English/Radcon_-_web_ve...  (http://km.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/vercon/pdf/English/Radcon_-_web_version.pdf)

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ICT Based Advisory Services & Sustainability

Nearly last one decade, large number of ICT innovations were deployed for facilitationg agro-advisory services for small holders in many developing countries, including India.....however, only few projects were scaled-up and sustined (in this forum Ben indicated that 10% of projects only reach to the sustainable stage, but in India this percentage (approximately) may be 3-5%....

Why ICT initiatives are un-sustinable and how we can make ICT advisory services become sustainable?

1. Most of the ICT projects are taken-up as an academic research projects/ pilots (with large investments). After the experimentation, there is no clear eveidence/ impact results to support for large scale deployments and also for the Government/ donor support.

2. Users are unwilling to Pay: Few ressearch studies in India indiacted that farmers (especially small and marginal land holding farmers) are unwilling to pay (even nominal fee) for agro-advisory services. This also related to the farmers' perception that agricultural advisory services are part of the welfare activities of the state, and thus should be provided free of charge.

3.Most ICT initiatives facilitated ONLY Information that too small part of agricultural information chain: ICT projects projects will not be sustainable  if they only focus on providing information about agricultural practice. Provision needs to be more holistic in two ways. First, the project must find a way to deliver all the resources necessary to turn information into agricultural action. This means the provision of money, labour, technology, motivation, and support. Even if not directly delivered by the project, these resources must be available or the information will remain unused. Second, the project must work across the supply chain: not just focused on agricultural processes but on backward linkages to inputs (farm machinery, fertiliser, seeds) and on forward linkages to outputs (postharvest technologies, and agricultural markets).

4. Integration of Pluralistic actorts: For sutainabilty and successful scaling-up of the ICT projects for small holder farmers, integration of the  public and private knowledge and other service providers (Agriculture based NGOs, farm input dealers, agribusiness firms etc.,) in the agriculture sector creates synergy and complementary effect in disseminating agro-advisory services through ICT initaitives..

-R. Saravanan

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Sustainable ICT-based advisory services

Dear All

Greeting from Bangladesh. I have been following the lively discussions and I think not its time I add something to it.

There is a general understanding or conception that ICT based advisory services are not sustainable, which is not necessarily be true. I am working with ICT based advisory services for micro, small & medium enterprises and I found that there are certain factors that need to be understood. Only after that it is possible to make them sustainable which we have did.

First of all, it’s the ecosystem that needs to be understood. A standalone service is not going to be sustainable. How the service is developed, who is developing, who is providing and who is benefitting from the service are the crucial questions. For making a service sustainable we need to make sure that the right organizations doing the right thing for the right incentive. Sustainability can come from private sector led business model or government led service model or from a collaboration.

Secondly the regulation scenario, the government should play a role to facilitate competition and regulate the services. The focus should not be on controlling or giving extra mileage to the state run weak service providers. A proper policy framework and conducive environment is needed.

And finally the engagement of private sector. It is absolutely necessary to make private sector understand the benefit and the business of such services. Once private sector can see that there is business in it they would invest and things would move fast.

I have experienced working with all these factors that it’s a combination and balancing of the right strategy. And I can share also how addressing one issue lead us to find another because of these key factors.

From my experience of developing different ICT based services in Bangladesh I have found that these are the crucial factors for sustainability. There is a case being prepared by The Springfield Centre on Agriculture & ICT: benefitting the poor. That case would shed light on these factors too. Once the case is published I will be sharing in this forum.  

Thanks and regards

Asad

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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

Dear all, Thanks Asad for that analysis.

Let me add to say that involvement of stakeholders in the design of ICT advisory services is important for sustainability . This makes the users ownership of the system. Many a times proffessions design ICT services for adoption by small scale farmers. Certain concepts like USSD and other concepts are not well explained to stake holders. I would like to pose a question. Has anyone come up with an ICT advisory service with the involvement of stakeholders that is sustainable?

Particulary i am more concerned with costs related to organising content which the beneficiaries access at the end of the day. Are these people paid from revenues generated by the system or a subsidy from external funds is used to pay them. As long as the advisory system fails to pay for its operation costs then we need more innovative thinking to mitigate this fact.

In Zambia we are working towards this goal of establishing a sustainable market information system based on strengthening symbotic relationship that exists between market agents and farmers through competition. More details on request as we are on pilot stage. Thanks

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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

Dear Richard

In Bangladesh we have developed two different helpline one is Agri helpline for only farmers and another one id SME helpline for micro and small enterprises. Bother of these services are commercially launched by mobile phone operators without any subsidy. And these are paid services. You would be happy to know that these services are sustainable and earning good revenue.

I hope it was helpful.

Thanks & Regards

Asad

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Re: [e-Agriculture] Question 2 (opens 19 Sept.)

<p>Dear all,</p>
<p>Thanks Asad for that analysis. Let me add to say that involvement of stakeholders in the design of ICT advisory services is important for sustainability . This makes the users ownership of the system.
Many a times proffessions design ICT services for adoption by small scale farmers. Certain concepts like USSD and other concepts are not well explained to stake holders.<br>
I would like to pose a question. Has anyone come up with an ICT advisory service with the involvement of stakeholders that is sustainable? Particulary i am more concerned with costs related to organising content which the beneficiaries access at the end of the day. Are these people paid from revenues generated by the system or a subsidy from external funds is used to pay them. As long as the advisory system fails to pay for its operation costs then we need more innovative thinking to mitigate this fact. <br>

In Zambia we are working towards this goal of establishing a sustainable market information system based on strengthening symbotic relationship that exists between market agents and farmers through competition. More details on request as we are on pilot stage.<br>
</p>
<p>Thanks</p>
<p>Richard-Sangonet Zambia</p>
<div class="gmail_quote">On Sep 23, 2012 3:30 PM, &lt;<a href="mailto:info@e-agriculture.org">info@e-agriculture.org</a>&gt; wrote:<br type="attribution"><blockquote class="gmail_quote" style="margin:0 0 0 .8ex;border-left:1px #ccc solid;padding-left:1ex">
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Sustainability of ICT based advisory- Case of IASF

Dear Members,

I would like to share about a CDAC, Mumbai project in collaboration with Department of Agriculture, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram etc.  This project called Intelligent Advisory System for Farmers (IASF)  is a hybrid expert system which incorporates potentials of "Rule Based Reasoning" and "Case Based reasoning", which are majorly two techniques used in expert systems. The integration of these two techniques provide a powerful system which is used for complex decision making process. This system is used for answering queries related to farming activities carried out in Northeast states of India such that

  • The system provides an online platform to agricultural experts on complex decision making process in farming related problems and provides timely and need based advice and advisory to farmers to solve problems related to their farming activities which otherwise, farmers will need the help of an extension personnel/expert.
  • The system can be used as an instructional material in educational programs and students can use it for practical experience with real scenario.

IASF is also a knowledge repository for Agricultural/Horticultural crops (Rice, Maize, Potato, Mustard, Cabbage etc. ) which are major crops grown in the North Eastern Region of India.

This system over a period of time is designed to acquire intelligence such that human/expert intervention is reduced to a minimum. The system uses an artificial intelligence engine (developed by CDAC) to provide solutions to farmer's problems relating to Pests and Diseases of major crops, weeds etc.

This System is also integrated with the mobile service delivery gateway (MSDG) of the Government of India, in which CDAC is the designated agency appointed by DEITY. This provides the system to push the advisory directly to the farmer's mobile device as an additional delivery method apart from the web.

For more information on this system please log in to http://iasf.cdacmumbai.in/ias/. The system has also been translated into Metei and Khasi language, which are major local languages of Manipur and Meghalaya.

regards,

Canning S Shabong

IASF State Co-ordinator, Department of Agriculture, Meghalaya, India

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Registration requirements

Canning...

I would like to learn more about the model but your registration process requires uploading an ID?  Can you share more about the thinking behind this registration requirement?  Is there a demo username & password you can supply me?

Rachel

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Registration Requirements

Dear Rachel,

I had already replied earlier this morning but it seems my post is still yet to be uploaded to this portal.

Yes to can log in as Farmer/Student by using  the Login Code -law1206. This user code which i created will automatically show you the Khasi interface. However, you can change the language to English from the language selector. You can also change the State(Meghalaya or Manipur  etc.) which you want to view.

The basic reason for the registration process is to capture farmer's/users identity and email/mobile number based on geography. However, we are also exploring whether to create a Guest ID for Guest to login without having to register on the site. But on second thoughts, if we enable Guest ID, then farmers/users may not register on the site and hence we may not be able to keep track of users or their location( the system has a database of the State which is drilled down right up to the village level). We are also exploring the idea of directly entering farmers registration details centrallly by the Department, as few farmers have access to the internet, because of low e-literacy, prevailing digital divide etc.

regards,

Canning S Shabong

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Factors that make ICT-based advisory services for small holders

Some important factors contributing towards the sustainability of ICT- based advisory services for small holders are:

 

  • Relevancy of the message/content
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Quick access to information
  • Reliability of message
  • Facilitate capacity building
  • Proper connectivity
  • Improving economic status
  • Pluralistic approaches and partnerships
  • Contribute towards improvement in production potential and market access
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