There are more than 570 million farms in the world of which over 500 million are family-owned. These smallholder farmers are confronted by many challenges – climate change, natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, increasing food price volatility, inefficient supply chains and others. Information and Communication Technologies can help smallholder farmers confront these challenges and improve their livelihoods. For instance, ICTs can increase access to financial services for rural communities, helping to secure savings, find affordable insurance and ultimately improve their well-being.
Emerging ICTs have provided new opportunities to address the challenges faced by agriculture. For example, increasing use of mobile phones for information exchange, such as disease surveillance and pest tracking, is now common practice. Linking knowledge to innovation is crucial in bridging the rural digital divide.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been promoting the use of ICTs in agriculture and has focused on ICT innovation for improving agricultural production and enhancing value chains. This publication is an effort to share success stories in Asia and the Pacific on the use of ICTs for agriculture and rural development. You will find success stories already covered in e-Agriculture, such as Nano Ganesh’s innovative use of technology in switching on irrigation pumps or Digital Green’s experiences in knowledge sharing among rural communities, all of which have the potential to significantly improve smallholder's livelihoods.