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The Principles for Digital Development and ICT4Ag

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Online forum discussions held on the e-Agriculture Platform have shown us that independently from the topic or the context, often the same challenges and recommendations are brought forward by particpants.

There is for example a strong consensus that farmers have an important role to play in the identification of the ICTs and their development, and should play a more important role in this process. Is there a way to avoid re-inventing the wheel and re-use existing applications or solutions? Sustainability of a project or innovation is also still a challenge in many cases. 

If we take a look at the latest policy brief on ICTs for resilience, we will see among the recommandations how human-centered design is an important point to be taken into account in the use of ICTs for resilience but the same recommandation holds for ICTs for Agriculture in general too. 

The e-Agriculture Community of Practice is not the only community facing these challenges and thinking about possible sollutions. It is at the core of the debate of the wider ICT for Development Community. Organizations have been discussing how to share best practices in the use of ICTs for a long period of time. 

As a result of a consultation process with multiple international organization the 9 Principles for Digital Development where agreed upon and endorsed by a large group of organizations (for more information click here). The Principles for Digital Development are "living" guidelines that can help you integrate best practices in your programs. They seek to institutionalize lessons learned in ICT4D and written by and for international development partners. All the guidelines are freely available on the platform in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. 

Take a look at the links to the different principles below to learn more about them. 

9 Principles for Digital Development

Learn more about each one of the principles by clicking on them. You will be directed to the relevant page on digitalprinciples.org 

  1. Design with the user
  2. Understand the ecosystem
  3. Design for scale
  4. Build for sustainability
  5. Be data driven
  6. Use open data, open standards, open source and open innovation
  7. Reuse and improve
  8. Adress privacy & security
  9. Be collaborative



These principles are generally applicably and therefore not less true for the specific area of work of our Community of Practice. The principles are a very welcome addition to the recommendations made in the "e-Agriculture 10 Year Review Report: implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Line C7. ICT Applications: e-agriculture" Please find below the text from the recommendations of this report: 

Recommendations from the e-Agriculture 10 Year Review Report


  • Content should be created and adapted from reliable and trusted sources, including local languages and taking into account local contexts, to ensure equitable and timely access to agricultural knowledge by resource-poor men and women farmers, foresters and fisher folk in rural areas.
  • Useful information must be repackaged and mobilized in formats that meet the different information needs and preferences of different user groups and that can be stored, retrieved and exchanged with ease, taking into account issues of ownership and intellectual property.
  • Information innovations coming directly from the rural communities themselves should be fostered and widely shared.

Capacity development in the three dimensions: the individual’s capacity, the organizational capacity and the enabling environment: 

  • As part of national ICT strategies, the development and the implementation of national e-agriculture strategies should seek to provide reliable and affordable connectivity and integrate ICTs in rural development to support food security and hunger eradication.
  • Governments and the public sector should formulate clear policies that define the principles for their involvement in the development of e-agriculture strategies.
  • Digital literacy in rural institutions and communities should be developed and enhanced, taking into consideration local needs and constraints by providing appropriate learning opportunities for men, women, youth and people with disabilities, which will enhance individual and collective decision-making skills.
  • The use of ICTs should be promoted to reinforce the resilience capacity of states, communities and individuals to adapt to shocks and natural disasters, food chain emergencies, transboundary threats, socio-economic crises, violent conflicts and protracted crises.

Gender and Diversity:

  • Gender, youth and diversity should be systematically addressed in the planning phase of project design and during the whole project cycle. Women’s and youth’s access to technology and equipment, as well as potential consequences for social dynamics within communities, should be assessed prior to project deployment in order to address ICT gaps and ensure sustainable adoption of solutions within communities.
  • Gender-disaggregated data must be collected in projects and in national ICT-related statistics.
  • Youth’s access and familiarity with technologies, as well as their role in the social dynamics of rural communities, should be further leveraged in project design and capacity development.

Access and participation: 

  • Digital inclusion policies with gender perspectives should be promoted to enable men and women to access and use ICTs equally.
  • Collaboration and knowledge-sharing in agriculture should be fostered via communities of practice, in order to showcase and promote models, methodologies, good practices and the adoption of open access and interoperability standards to achieve effective and equitable use of ICTs for sustainable agriculture and rural development. 


  • Public-private partnerships with a wide range of non-state actors should be promoted for inclusive, affordable and sustainable ICT services and initiatives in agriculture and rural development, which will promote the wide-scale use of ICTs and foster sustainable agribusiness models.
  • Partnership structures in which farmer or producer organizations and community based NGOs are strengthened in their ability to adopt and integrate ICTs into their daily operations and service provision to their members should be encouraged.


  • Blended approaches, such as a combination of radio and telephone, and locally relevant technologies selected on the basis of in-depth analysis of local needs and existing information systems should be adopted to increase efficiency of ICT in agriculture initiatives and better serve different users and contexts.
  • Mobile information services and voice-based services should be promoted as important tools in agricultural development and business. 

Economic, social and environmental sustainability: 

  • Access to mobile telephony, Internet and information in general should be possible and within the price range of the poor.
  • During the pilot phase of ICT projects, a sustainable financial recovery mechanism should be identified in order to be able to continue activities later on.
  • Open access policies and initiatives should be encouraged so as to make quality information available and accessible to a broader potential user base.
  • Technology interventions should be designed to select appropriate and environmentally friendly technologies for collecting, storing, recycling, treating and finally disposing of e-waste. 

What do you think about the recommendations from the 10 year report or what can the 9 principles for digital development mean for your ICT4Ag project? Have you been able to successfully use the recommendations and guidelines in your projects? Do you agree with the recommendations? Is there anything you would add? Or leave a comment to this post below! 

 Let us know on info@e-agriculture.org ! 


  • www.digitalprinciples.org
  • FAO, 2015, e-agriculture 10 Year Review Report: Implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Action Line C7. ICT Applications: e-agriculture, by Kristin Kolshus, Antonella Pastore, Sophie Treinen and Alice Van der Elstraeten