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What are the specific constraints you have faced in the use of ICTs for sustainable intensification of horticulture crop base

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e-Agriculture's picture
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What are the specific constraints you have faced in the use of ICTs for sustainable intensification of horticulture crop base

What are the specific constraints you have faced in the use of ICTs for sustainable intensification of horticulture crop based systems and do you have any recommendations to decision makers for the use of ICTs in SCPI of horticulture-based systems? (NGOs, civil society and governments)

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Introductory remarks to 3rd question of this forum

ICTs can surely play a key role in promoting the sustainable production intensification of horticultural crop based system. At the same time, there are barriers preventing rural stakeholders from capitalizing the application of ICTs and challenges that can jeopardize the successful employment of ICTs to advance the horticultural sector – beyond the typical ones linked in ICTs for agriculture (e.g. digital divide(s), low adoption of ICTs, usability of applications, inappropriate and untimely content).

I would like to share some of these barriers and challenges, inviting all participants to the Forum to provide their remarks and add more of those – specifically focusing on horticultural production.

Among the main barriers, the financial investments needed to setup ICT-based infrastructures supporting horticultural production is the first and foremost. The use of in-situ sensors can positively help monitoring horticultural crop production, optimizing input management and reducing overall costs, though they require an investment to buy/rent the devices, installing them, setting up a wireless network to collect the data feeding the related databases and information management systems, and finally maintaining the infrastructure up and running. Investments are needed also to build or strengthen the capacity of farmers or their partners who will operate the sensor and analyse the measurements being taken to operationalize follow-up management activities. Clearly, the same applies with the use of remote sensing technologies used for monitoring horticultural crop production.

Decision makers can play a difference by incentivizing the adoption of ICTs at the farm level through grants, facilitated access to credit and tax incentives (wherever it is worthwhile). Moreover, decision makers can sponsor capacity building programs for both farmers and rural advisory service providers, so to create the conditions for increasing the feasibility of ICT-based initiatives.

Barriers and challenges exist at a broader level, as the infrastructure of rural areas often suffer from low investments and attention from both the public and private sector – lowering the quality of service of information and communication systems in rural areas that may help rural communities leapfrogging. For example, remote and underprivileged areas suffer frequent power and communication cuts, and lack the availability of technologies and capacities if compared to urban centres. As a result, rural areas do not present a favourable environment to make ICTs and the related innovations practicable for their communities.

Policy and decision makers have the responsibility to place rural areas at the centre of pro-innovation policies rather than at their peripheries, fostering the creation of smart rural areas as much as urban ones. Evidence shows that investments in rural areas prove to be good value for money, beyond the satellite positive outcomes of keeping farmers actively engaged in agriculture as custodians of local land and knowledge.

Another important challenge is the scepticism who farmers often show towards ICT solutions in agricultural production – including horticulture. Indeed, farmers tend to see these technologies as something too advanced and complicated for them, and understandably they do not place very much trust in impersonal digital system listing a set of operations they should perform on their own fields.

Policy makers and NGO should adopt technology stewardship models (as recently discussed with one of our colleagues active in this Forum, Mr. Keron Bascombe) to help farmers get familiar with these technologies. Tech-savvy acquaintances of farmers, such as younger members of households, can help bridging this gap and carve for themselves a new role as service providers in rural societies.

Furthermore, a useful approach is the one employed by Farmer Field Schools and Science Field Shops where farmers can test technologies and learn by doing. Such approach would also allow building ad hoc low-cost ICT solutions – such as hot-air balloon to take aerial photos of the fields for image processing – that can further facilitate the adoption of such technologies. As I stated at the beginning of my message, these are just some examples. I really look forward hearing yours!

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Thank you and welcome to this weeks' discussion

Thank your Dr Simone Sala for your introductory comments and we looking forward to yet another lively discussion this week.

May l take this opportunity to thank those who have provided their comments during the course of this forum discussion so far, this week presents yet also another opportunity of sharing your comments in this forum 'The Role of ICTs in Sustainable Crop Production Intensification (SCPI) of horticulture crop based systems'.

Allow me to re-state this week's discussion question which is :


What are the specific constraints you have faced in the use of ICTs for sustainable intensification of horticulture crop based systems and do you have any recommendations to decision makers for the use of ICTs in SCPI of horticulture-based systems? (NGOs, civil society and governments)


We are looking forward to your contribution to this question.

Meanwhile, kindly note that due to the enormous interests in the questions under discussion and for the benefit of new members who did not manage to share their contributions. The two previous discussion questions ( Question 1 and Question 2) are still open for contributions, to comment kindly refer to the respective question tabs on the platform.

We look forward to keep receiving your comments!

Thembani Malapela

On Behalf of the forum Moderators.

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ICTs-SCPI-hortcrops - Constraints

 Thanks Dr Sala for such a detauiled and reflective share,

Adding on , we can generally group these constraints into three main categories which are :
A .poor-enabling environment
B. lack of access and 
C. dissemination of unrelated information
Main common specific constraints: 
•    lack of 'tailored' ICT applications, 
•    ICts s ever increasing sophistication which imposes enhanced human capital requirements,
•    Poor ICTs infrastructure development,
•    high cost of broadcast equipment, 
•    high charges for radio/television presentations, 
•    high cost of access/interconnectivity and electricity power problems. 
•    Adoption and adaptation to local needs are and the willingness of the targeted end user to accept ..
•    As highlighted by Allan Goodrich on the forum–issue of Trust ( the farmers and the ICT providers ) 
•     lack of confidence in operating ICTs
•     lack of awareness of the benefits of ICTs
Recommendation –policy makers.
As echoed by cmapfunde on the forum, . There is a need for more availability and openness in accessing data and information, making it ‘interoperable’ and development of relevant apps to effectively and easily process and present this information in a useful way
1.    Increased Dissemination of  related agriculture-related information
2.    Better infrastructural facilities
3.     More awareness-cum-training programmes on ICTs should be encouraged among farmers by agricultural state departments, research organizations and its allied departments in order to increase the confidence, competence and skill in using ICTs for development. 
4.    Use of renewable energy such as solar panels would be recommended in order to overcome erratic and fluctuating power supply in the state particularly in rural areas. 
5.     Increased engagement in social media among rural youths on farming in order to enhance the communication pattern among themselves and extension personnel
6.    ICT tools should be readily available and in close proximity to the users. The multimedia platforms  websites used should provide information that is well packaged, reputable and in the appropriate languages ,vernacular if possible.
7.    Introduce ICTs through FFS ( farmer Field School) 
8.    Develop the apps with the user.
9.     ICT tools need to be simple and affordable. Content should be relevant to targeted youth, valuable, treasured, localized and dependable. The use of YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp in agricultural knowledge access by institutions and among the youth should be expanded and widely popularized.
10.     extension workers should learn how to manipulation all the ICT tools effectively so that they will be able to teach the farmers by creating zonal internet centres in  their respective communities
Thank you.

 

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Constraints faced ICT implementations

The main challenges faced are,

  • Internet connectivity: This is the major problem we faced as in Rural areas of India the connectivity is not very good. The solution for this problem is the offline mode for system.
  • Literacy of farmers: Most of the rural population is not very tech savvy. This is avoided by hybrid mode of the system, the farmers can opt for IVR, SMS or mobile apps. Then gradually they can be trained about the use of mobile apps.
  • Cost of the system: If the number of farmers using IVR and SMS, the cost can be high due to the calls and SMS. The solution is to gradually move the system from IVR and SMS to 100% mobile app based. This will ensure that the cost will be minimal with all the benefits of the system.
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The same in Togo for farmers.

The same in Togo for farmers. They do not have money and ICT use education

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In Togo, internet connection

In Togo, internet connection is not available everywhere. In rural zones ICTuse is not an available.

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Constraints and Solutions--in the African Context

I’d like to thank all previous participants(@simone_sala ,@thembani.malapela and @John-w-)in this subject. I believe that all of you here do agree that ICTs are making it easier for us to connect with farmers in documenting, packaging and understanding our agricultural needs. This is a very fascinating topic to me as an ICT practitioner, who has a great interest in linking my knowledge to the horticultural field. To my opinion the main constraints I have experienced are:

-Lack of demonstration sites and innovation labs -although there are ICT trainings in educational institutions, some try to teach lightly regarding topics in agriculture, for my case, I learned about hydroponic systems, which I never had hands on experience and didn’t even know how it looked like, but had to do an exam for it. By larger growers and successful farmers networking with educational institutions to create interest, It will really stimulate the future of ICTs to all.

-Poor Supporting Environment/Infrastructure-Horti-crop business doesn’t  get enough attention as it needs, especially in Africa. we are experiencing a lack of clear policies to support ICTs and linking them with agriculture, and also deficient innovative agricultural technologies investment projects.

-High Telecommunication costs-Setting up a new system to monitor crops can be a pinch to a small grower as it needs an extensive investment in setting up, operating costs and maintenance.

-Complexity of ICT systems-Sometimes we see older people and people with limited education  being scared of computers, illiteracy, or maybe they just lack interest…maybe, they just find them too complicated, but that same group of people find mobile phones very easy to use(especially for social networking),as the mobile phone market is making a tremendous revolution, developing of simple apps for these people can make things a lot more easier, and an interest in ICT’s can be very quickly built. e. g. creating a weather control app which gathers information from simple sensors installed in the farm.(small investment for necessary production results VS 'high tech' big investment for more professional results)

  However, the population of the developing countries is much higher than the developed ones. Thus, the use of simple and affordable technologies is undoubtedly the upcoming solution in making ICTS more efficient in sustainable intensification in Agriculture, especially in the developing countries context.

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I concur with the discussed

I concur with the discussed constraints and solutions by the participants. Some solutions lie within the goverment policies and implementation of the same. This can be achieved through goverment mandated institutions which oversee the horticulture sector.

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Government institutions are major road blocks

I am explaining my view, which I faced during implementation in various ICT projects.

1. Organisations are highly technical to develop best solutions for any type of location, community or audience, technologies do not face any road block for successful implementation.

2. Farmers and SHGs are very acceptable for any new idea, they learn very fast.

3. Internet and Mobile network unavailability is an issue to some places but offline solutions help to overcome it, we did it.

4. Major issue is Government bodies, they take maximum time to accept and implement any project, inter Government organisation collaboration is almost impossible, unless there is not direct order from top bosses.

5. Officers attitude and line of reporting is big issue, they do not accept instruction from a junior officer, government procedures on payments aspect is very complex and slow.

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ICTs for sustainable intensification of horticulture-Constraints

Thank you Dr Simone and Thembani for the introduction. 

From my experience, I would summarise the constraints as the lack of partners' commitment to the required and emergent common bridging "organisational" layer. This layer is a prerequisite to be formatted among the ICT provider, the farming organisation, the local policy makers and the local community. When ICT projects intervene in conventional activities and markets a whole new world opens up that certainly needs a constant supporting environment to alter as-is and status quo behaviours and enable total attitudes' transformation.

So Simone despite your comments being profoundly true and well-targeted as technology progresses neither money nor complexity won't be the problem. Business/ technical continuity and (micro/ macro) environment's support will, however. 

Thank you for the discussion.

Regards,

Harris Moysiadis

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La technologie mobile et les

La technologie mobile et les outils de la NTIC sont réellement importantes pour faciliter l'accès et le partage des innovations en temps réel. Mais il ya lieu de noter la problématique de régularité des connexions et la disponibilité de l'internet. La situation d'accès à l'internet en RDC est difficile à la fois en milieu rural qu'urbain. Il ya aussi le coût à payer pour les petits producteurs et familles vulnérables.

En guise de recommandation, il serait souhaitable qu'une politique de mise en place par l'Etat et de ses partenaires, d'investissements structurants et d'infrastructures d'accès aux services de communication soit soutenue.

Accorder la facilité aux sociétés privées comme Vodacom et les autres, tout en insérant la place des outils de la NTIC dans la politique nationale de vulgarisation agricole à élaborer avec l'appui de la FAO Globale.

Meilleures salutations.

Clément.

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Hidden, but more important constraints to ICT adoption

 

Of course infrastructure is often a big problem for rural areas, and making technology adoption work. But I see a more fundamental problem to ICT implementation with farmers, which is the lack-of descoping technical possibilities to the level of the easiest functional value. 

Technological potential is tricky. It makes innovator-engineers believe that anything is possible. This is very useful for the aspirational side of ICT development. You first have to believe it's possbile, before you start making it possible.

But seeing the potential, also comes with a common frustration that farmers aren't ready yet to make use of it. There's computer literacy involved, there's customs around farm management practice, and there's trust issues around outside advice about how to run the farm. Such factors all work against implementation of the seemingly technologically advance alternative.

Regardless of the ICT project you're working on, I would advice to descope your solution to such a level that you start by meeting farmers where they currently are, not where you want them to be. This might lead to less appealing project proposals like IoT for farming, and such, but it does bring focus on the most immendiate functional value that you can bring to farmers.

Once you get a foothold with one small part of the solution, then your roadmap will start to gradually unfold for the rest of the solution becomes more concrete. It's easier to prioirties the release of the next feature, and holding the rest for later in the backlog. It also brings focus to partnerships that need to be created for compensating for lack of infrastructure, and other facets of distribution. (eg. mobile payment service, rural electrification initiatives, cooperatives, etc)

So, my advice would be to address the developers understanding of process, and mindset first. Keep development farmer-centric, and work your way up the technology ladder together with them.

[Full disclosure: I'm part of a community of FarmHack.nl. An movement dedicated to farmer-centric technoogy innovation. FarmHack is building the business case for open innovation technology development for the whoel agricultural value chain, in a farmer-centric way]

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TIC dans l'agriculture

Les agriculteurs sont confrontés a plusieurs problèmes entre autres, manque de professionnalisme, ajouter a cela il y a l'analphabétisme pour introduire les TICs, il faut d'abord régler : le problème d'énergie, rendre la connexion a l'Internet disponible a un coût raisonnable, créer des plate formes dans lesquels les intérêts des agriculteurs seront inclus (les informations concernant les itinéraires culturaux, les intrants, les planifications de la production, et surtout les informations sur les marchés d'écoulement). Impliquer les gouvernements a divers niveaux dans la vulgarisation de ces outils. Cordialement Raoul

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constraint and potential solution - in the Caribbean context

In the Caribbean, the AgriNeTT project developed several customized apps for farmers. These were selected as being the greatest need, from discussions with farmers and other agriculture persons. However, the uptake is still very small. What we have come to realize is that using ICT tools in farming (even the simplest ones) requires a fundamental shift in the farmers thinking about how he manages his farm business. He has to see the tool directly improving his profitability. 

One approach we are trying is getting farmers to encourage other farmers. Farmers look to other farmers more than they do to extension officers and even agriculture shops. Working with a small community of farmers who could see the transformation in thier business, can generate willing 'ambassadors' in getting the word out to other farmers. People follow success stories.

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Forum Closure: ICTs in the horticulture crop based systems

Dear Participants,

The online discussion on, “The role of Information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the Sustainable Intensification of Crop Production (SCPI)” has officially ended.

This has been a very fascinating discussion, looking at the intriguing, qualitative and insightful contributions from all of you. The sharp increase in the number of people joining the e-Agriculture platform over the course of the three weeks as well as the remarkable enthusiasm, with which you discussed the various issues put in evidence the significant role of ICTs in sustainable intensification of horticulture crop-based systems.

Indeed, reading from your contributions, there has been many ICTs in use and many more will emerge, all adapted to different contexts, scale and cropping systems. This shows us that we cannot have “a one size fit all solution” for all the issues in the sustainable intensification of horticulture crop systems. Quite a number of you agreed that, to increase horticultural production sustainably there is an need of embracing ICTs, as it offers and promises a multitude of advantages towards achieving our global goal, ending hunger by sustainable intensification of crop production, amidst of the changing climate.

We received a total number of 75 contributions from participants from the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago and Vietnam.

Below you can find the short summaries from each week for those who had no time to follow the entire discussion.

Discussion Week Summary of discussion
Week 1 ( The role of ICTs in horticulture) Read here
Week 2 (ICT case studies in horticulture)  Read here
Week 3 (Challenges for ICTs adoption in horticulture) Read here
  • All the contributions received have been archived and remain accessible here.
  • For a short overview of the cases shared during this forum you can read here

On behalf of the moderating team, allow me to express our gratitude once again to all who actively participated in this forum. Thank you for your time, your dedication and efforts to share your experiences with the Community of Practice. We hope you have also learnt a lot from the discussions.

We look forward to welcome you all in future online discussions.

With best wishes,

Forum Moderators

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