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January 2012 | The Year in Review: 2011

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The e-Agriculture Newsletter is part of a global initiative to enhance sustainable agricultural development and food security by improving the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). e-Agriculture is a Community of more than 7,900 members from over 160 countries and territories.


In 2011, the e-Agriculture Community was driven by the dedicated participation and continuous input of people from all over the world. Community membership increased by 15%, reaching nearly 8,000 members from 160 countries. This makes e-Agriculture the largest network engaged in knowledge sharing and discussion of key topics on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for agricultural and rural development.



What were the top interests of the e-Agriculture Community in 2011? Our Top 10 List for 2011 shows that the Community was keenly interested in the issues that will impact development, improving knowledge exchange and getting to know peers in the ICT for agriculture field. This top 10 list was compiled based on activity levels on www.e-agriculture.org during the year:

Impact of ICT4ag projects:  The Community recognizes that "ICT will only become an effective, mainstream tool for agricultural development if the proponents of ICT for development can provide more rigorous evidence, strategies, benchmarks, indicators, and promising practices that are directly relevant to the core poverty-reduction and development priorities of developing countries and their international partners." (Read more about Capturing Impact)


Agricultural Value Chains: The critical role and potential of ICTs in agricultural value chains continues to be important to the Community. With different types of ICT having different strengths and weaknesses when applied to particular interventions, the impacts of ICT are diverse and markets are influenced in different ways. People and institutions are as recognized as the essential elements in this system. (Read more about Agricultural Value Chains)


Mobile technology: Some have called 2011 the "year of the mobile". As an affordable and accessible means of communication, rural communities and development workers are realizing the potential of mobile telephony to create economic opportunities and strengthen social networks. The Community continues to seek and share new applications of this technology and to monitor its limitations. (Read more about Mobile Telephony)


Improving access to ARD: The potential of ICT to make information from agricultural research and development more available, accessible and applicable is growing in recognition. To further understanding and successes in this area, the Community joined with the CIARD community to explore the issue in detail this year. (Read more on access to ARD


Youth, agriculture and ICT: An agriculture sector able to meet the world's needs without depleting its resources will only become a reality if young professionals are actively engaged in shaping the sector's future. ICTs are a vehicle through which young people are attracted to and can find a place within the agricultural sector. The Community made a special effort this year to reach out to its younger members as well as raise awareness through YPARD. (Read more about Youth, agriculture and ICTs)


Gender and ICT: If gender is missing from rural and agricultural ICT initiatives, then an opportunity to improve the socio-economic conditions of women, who are the largest and most active component of many agricultural populations is missed. The Community realizes that ICTs have the potential to benefit women in agricultural production and to challenge existing gender imbalances in rural livelihoods only if there is sufficient understanding of women's status and gender roles and responsibilities in society. (Read more about Gender and ICTs)


Water and ICT: As the population increases and development calls for increased allocations of water for agriculture and other uses, the pressure on water resources intensifies. ICTs provide wide ranging opportunities for the management of water as a resource, and for the management of information about water. As with other subject, ICTs are being used to manage critical information resources about water, making these readily available, and accessible. (Read more about water and ICTs)


Knowledge Base: The Knowledge Base is home to valuable resources related to ICT in Agriculture and Rural Development. These resources are submitted by Community members covering experiences and outcomes through case studies and reports, ICT statistics, examples of government e-agriculture programmes and policies, and other relevant information. We invite you to submit materials relating to e-agriculture.

Members: As with any network, getting to know more about fellow members and expanding professional networks is an important activity. The Community's Member Profiles were very popular. (Log in is required to view Member Profiles)


Sourcebook: With the launch of the "ICT in Agriculture" Sourcebook, a multi-author resource on the use of ICT in the field, the World Bank established one of the preeminent resources in the Community's area of interest. Becoming available near the end of the year, it just made the top 10 list. No doubt with more discussions on the Sourcebook planned in 2012, it will remain high on the agenda of the Community. (Read more about the Sourcebook)

  Tri-lingual Platform: The Spanish and French interfaces of the e Agriculture website were launched in early January 2011, complementing the new English language interface that was launched in late 2010. Efforts continue to support collaborations with Francophone and Spanish speaking members. From the Community's members, 35% have indicated that Spanish is their mother tongue and 25% have indicated French.

 Blogs: The newly established Blogs section showcases special contributions written by leaders in the Community. Through blogs, members have shared information about their work and interests in e-agriculture. In 2011, guest bloggers contributed to a total of  55 blog posts in 3 languages, supporting interaction among Community members and attracting thousands of readers. 

 Resources: The e-Agriculture Knowledge Base comprises over 1,600 resources. This collection continued to grow during the year as members submitted new content. The quality of metadata in the Knowledge Base was greatly improve by our two interns, Brieuc de Roquefeuil and Erin Yingling, making the resources more accessible and relevant. 

 Publications: All e-Agriculture Policy Briefs (a total of 19 including language versions) were reviewed and updated, with the 2nd editions of the documents published. All are now available in the new Policy Brief Archive. These publications present valuable summaries of the extensive discussions that have taken place during the Community's online forums (see: Forums Archive)

 International Year of Youth: To mark the International Year of Youth, e-Agriculture and YPARD organized a special blog series from July to August to give a voice to youth, and to bring their perspective to the issues surrounding the field of agriculture, young professionals and the use of ICT. A total of 27 blogs in 3 languages were published, which were very popular with the Community.

 Face-to-face events: During the year, members of the Community met and participated in many face-to-face events like the World Summit on the Information Society Forum (WSIS with UNCTAD & ITC), which took place during May in Geneva. The WSIS Forum celebrated leadership and innovation in the ICT sector, and members of the e-Agriculture Community looked at "The Promise of Mobile Technology" in two sessions, "Mobile Money Solutions for Small Enterprises" and "What is the Socio-Economic Impact on Rural Communities?". Moreover, in the month of September, Community members were at the Second Global Agri-Knowledge Share Fair, held at IFAD, and highlighted some sessions in blogs:

If you know of any events where members of the e-Agriculture Community gather together, be sure to let us know!

During the year the e-Agriculture Team coordinated five online discussions with partners, which brought together over 16,000 participants from around the world. The complete discussions can be found in the Forum Archive. The forums were:

 "Building the CIARD Framework for Data and Information Sharing" 
Organized with the CIARD community, this e-consultation took place in April, and focused on the topic of sharing and interoperability of data and information for agricultural research for development. The discussions' summary (PDF) served as a background document for an international Expert Consultation held in Beijing during the month of June, 2011. 

 "Gender, ICTs and Rural Livelihoods"
Organized in May by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), this forum was in French. A final report summarized the discussions. 

 "Challenges and Opportunities for Capturing Impact in ICT initiatives in Agriculture" 
Led by Katalyst in September to discuss the challenges of linking impact with the use of ICTs in agriculture, this forum resulted in a policy brief

 "Mobile Information Services"
Organized by the mFarmer Initiative (a partnership between GSMA, USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), this forum analyzed the benefits of forming strong partnerships to create sustainable and scalable information advisory services in November. A report is in draft.

 "Strengthening Agricultural Marketing with ICT"
The World Bank hosted the final forum of the year in December, which looked in detail at strengthening agricultural markets with ICT. Based on the "ICT in Agriculture" Sourcebook module 9, the forum report is in draft.



You can stay in touch with e-Agriculture members throughout the world by joining us on Facebook and Twitter. Also, don't forget to browse through some of our latest content on Delicious and watch some of our recent video interviews with featured e-Agriculture members on the e-Agriculture YouTube channel.

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