Driven by the rapid spread of the Internet, the dramatic fall of connectivity costs, the increasing access to open data, ICTs now provide practical, immediate opportunities even to small farmers to improve their livelihoods.
ICTs also have great potential for improving the handling of agricultural commodities along value chains, making it possible to deliver healthier, cheaper food to consumers while still providing greater income opportunities to farmers, processors, traders, and agricultural service providers. However, these opportunities remain under-utilised, to a large extent because technology moves fast and experiences are still poorly shared, but partly also because the adoption of new technologies requires organisations to adapt in ways that can be complex. CTA wishes to reduce the barriers to the adoption of novel ICTs and increase access and use of open data by tackling these reasons for missed opportunities.
This is being done through two interventional areas:
- Precision-agriculture for smallholder agriculture
- ICT and entrepreneurship for inclusive agri-food systems
Precision-agriculture for smallholder agriculture
Precision agriculture is about the intelligent management of agricultural data that help influence their farming decisions for increased production, post-harvest management and links to markets.
It involves the use of
- remote sensing technologies and tools such as geographical information systems (GIS); global positioning system (GPS); satellite imagery taken from the orbit; laser scanning, or light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technologies; and aerial photography of the ground taken by drones/unmanned aerial vehicles, airplanes/helicopters at a given altitude for raw agricultural data collection for crop and animal diagnosis.
- data and information management technologies for data processing; spatial modelling; data mining; and data mediation to make sense of the raw data and produce recommendations for the diagnosis; and
- information dissemination/communication technologies and tools such as SMS, web, radio, video, animations, and knowledge management platforms for getting the results to the smallholder farmers and empowering them with the use of the information.
ICT and entrepreneurship for inclusive agri-food systems
ICT and entrepreneurship for inclusive agri-food systems is about taking advantage of the significant opportunities for entrepreneurs (in particular, young ones, who are more likely to be familiar with ICTs) to modernise value chains through the introduction of ICTs at many different levels.
This may be seen in the areas of providing advice to farmers, provision of outsourced services (such as spraying, using UAVs for monitoring crop health or ensuring optimal distribution of inputs) and marketing support. It involves capacity building for local entities (such as intermediaries including farmers organisations, farmers and young entrepreneurs) to identify these solutions, to adapt them to local needs, role them out and manage the resulting ventures.