Evidence have shown that technology has the potential to improve agricultural productivity. Specifically ICTs can help governments and developmental organizations to enhance food security and improve rural livelihoods through both knowledge and skills transfer.
In most cases also improve the capacities of communities in agricultural productivity, pests control and easier access to markets.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) adopts innovations in information and communication technology (ICT) for agriculture and rural development. In a recent article by its President, Gilbert Houngbo, IFAD enumerates how it has created a policy that enables ICT adoption in programmes and also explains IFAD’s ICT related work.
ICT for Development in IFAD
IFAD has included ICTs in its Strategic Framework 2016-2025 which states that, “expanding the uptake of new ICTs will be a priority. IFAD will leverage the surge in cellular phone ownership to facilitate access to better market information and financial services and products such as credit, savings and insurance, as well as weather information to ensure better capacity to predict rainfall and better preparedness for extreme weather events”.
What projects has IFAD done in ICTs for agriculture?
At country level IFAD has been working on ICT programmes for several years. The article gives a number of examples;-
- In Zambia IFAD financed a market information service which used ICTs in improving market information and access. The project was done in cooperation with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and provided accurate and up-to-date agricultural and market information covering the entire value chain. More information here IFAD Blog on this project here
- In Cambodia, IFAD partnered with Intel Corporation to support smallholder farmers through mobile and IT farm extension services. The article states that, “Smallholder farmers have been provided a step-by-step software program to analyze soil, determine fertilizer requirements, give advice on best seeds and deal with pests and diseases”.
- In Yemen, IFAD is investing in forecast problem tree analysis and climate change vulnerability mapping, combining GIS modelling, satellite observations and social vulnerability assessment
- In Tanzania, IFAD supported a project that provided rural women and men with information via mobile phones, the Internet and email and gave them access to market chain, including processors, traders and consumers.
IFAD recognize that extending access to ICTs requires multi-stakeholder involvement of government, developmental partners, rural organizations and ICT companies if it is to create a sustainable, reliable and inclusive approach to harnessing ICTs for rural development.