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Information technology and communication in organic agriculture

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Background: The value of getting timely quality information to smallholder farmers should not be underestimated. The agricultural research and development community is trying to increase the farmers’ knowledge base through an integrated approach including  information and communication technologies (ICT), as noted by several researchers. With the challenges of poverty, food insecurity, decreasing agricultural productivity and  climate change, creative approaches are needed to enhance access to information  and make it useful to smallholder farmers. Such approaches should unlock farmers’ capabilities to manage soils, water, biological resources, pests, disease vectors and genetic diversity innovatively and to conserve natural resources in a culturally  appropriate manner.

Infonet-Biovision (IB), a project under the Biovision Farmer Communication Programme, has developed a farmer resource Web site (www.infonet-biovision.org) and has three years of experience with pilot outreach methodologies for — 180 —Organic agriculture: african experiences in resilience and sustainability smallholders knowledge organic and sustainable agriculture and environment conservation using applied  ICT. This paper examines experiences and plans for partnering with local communities  and research organizations in Kenya and East Africa to promote changes in  agricultural practices and community organization.

About the author: Anne Bruntse grew-up on a Danish mixed farm and experimented with organic farming in her home vegetable garden. She graduated from the Royal Agriculture and Veterinary College in 1978 with a master’s degree equivalent, and then worked in the Danish Extension system. FAO work followed, in Swaziland and Kenya on seed multiplication and fodder. She then farmed privately (and managed a business) in Kenya for 21 years, inter-spersed with consultancies on camel value chains. She joined Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development in 2006 and worked with the Biovision team and short-term consultants to build-up the farmer data base www.infonet-biovision.org. She was later in charge of the Infonet Outreach pilot project, seeking to find effective methods for the information to reach farmers.
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