Information & Communication

The power of online communities

Communities of practice can strengthen smallholder farmers’ ability to influence policy and improve their farming practices. This document briefs about the potential of virtual communities which foster such practices to bring about rural transformation.   

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EMBRACING WEB 2.0 AND SOCIAL MEDIA: A life-changing pathwayfor agricultural development actors

ICTs enabled rural actors with internet access not only to offer but also to benefit from a range of services that were not previously available.This publication documents some of the success stories in Web 2.0 and social mediawithin the agricultural sector.

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Going To Scale With ICTS For Agriculture

The role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in agriculture is truly significant in everything, from conserving water use to helping secure the livelihoods of rural women. The huge potential of ICT for agriculture (ICT4Ag), from increasing agricultural yields to helping farmers get a fairer price for their produce, is well documented in this guide.

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Effective Tools for Knowledge Management and Learning in Agriculture and Rural Development

The purpose of this guide is to understand KM and to shortlist KM methods and tools identified, providing a useful starting point for beginning KM practitioners.

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ICT and Youth in Agriculture

While the agricultural sector is traditionally not very popular among youth in Africa, notably because it lacks policy support, ICT innovations are contributing to improving its image. They advance value chains, providing new employment opportunities, and attract more young people to the sector.

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ICTs for Agricultural Extension: Global Experiments, Innovations and Experiences

Saravanan, R ., (2008), (Ed.) New India Publishing Agency (NIPA), New Delhi.

This book is an attempt to document the National Policy on ICTs in agricultural extension, ICT infrastructure scenario and related issues, case studies on innovative ICTs for agricultural extension initiatives and lessons from ICT application from countries such as Bangladesh, Caribbean Nations (Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St.kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago),  Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi), Sudan, Trinidad & Tobago and Zimbabwe.

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Strengthening Rural Livelihoods: The impact of information and communication technologies in Asia

David J. Grimshaw and Shalini Kala (Eds) (2011) International Development Research Centre

This book brings together rigorously tested practices and methods of applying ICTs for improving rural livelihoods.Each research study has investigated how and to what extent a specific ICT intervention made a difference. Together they show how ICTs have empowered rural people and transformed livelihoods in agriculture: by filling information gaps, raising awareness, building skills and extending social networks. 

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Innovation and Scaling of ICTs for the Bottom of the Pyramid Journal of Information Technology (2013) 28, 296–315

Richard Heeks from the University of Manchester shared with us this article which analyses scaling into four stages, and identifies the types of innovations, strategies, roles and risks associated with each of those stages.

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ICTs for Sustainable Agriculture: Indicators from Asia and the Pacific Gerard Sylvester (Ed), FAO, 2013

It delivers a collection of initiatives, technologies and processes that hold great promise for agriculture and rural development. These papers outline how various organizations are addressing the challenges faced by agriculture with the help of technology-mediated solutions. In the first part a synthesis is given of the reports and sub-regional workshops conducted by FAO, APAARI and GFAR and other partners between 2010 and 2013 on the topic of ICTs for sustainable agriculture. In the second part you will find contributions from many individuals and organizations involved in agriculture or on technologies that assist agricultural development and knowledge sharing.

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Reference Guide:
Mobile-based technologies for monitoring and evaluation: A practical guide

This publication is a practical reference guide for project managers, M&E specialists, researchers and donors interested in quick tools for monitoring and data collection.

The Guide is organized into three sections: Quick Start: Is mobile-based monitoring and evaluation for you? How to get started?  Mobile Technology: Options and Opportunities: How is mobile technology better than paper survey? What are your choices? Implementing Mobile Technology in Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E): How to roll out a mobile system? What are best practices, do''s and don’ts?

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The Social Media Handbook for Agricultural Development Practitioners

The Social Media Handbook for Agricultural Development Practitioners provides next steps, a wealth of tips and tricks, as well as planning tools in a clickable and engaging interactive PDF format. It is intended for a broad development audience who hopes to harness social media to expand engagement with local communities, strengthen partner relationships, and support programmatic initiatives.

The power of social media - for those who have access - is truly remarkable. Globally, nearly one in four people connects to a social network on a monthly basis, a number rises every month. But what does this wave of connectivity mean in practical terms? What are the benefits and limitations of social media in current context? How can your team implement a social strategy that will be effective?

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Factors associated with utilization of ICT enabled Village Information Centres by the dairy farmers in India:

The case of Tamil Nadu by S. Senthilkumar, Mahesh Chander, A. Serma Saravana Pandian, N.K. Sudeep Anant Kumar

In spite of the number of projects oriented towards the transfer of technologies through ICTs, still the acceptability and utilization of ICTs are very low in the rural areas. Hence an attempt was made to identify the factors associated with utilization of ICT enabled the Village Information Centre by the dairy farmers of Tamilnadu. 

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Integrating Low Cost Videos Into Agricultural Development Project: A Toolkit for Practitioners USAID 2012

Using low-cost videos within your agricultural development project can be an effective way for increasing the scale of your activities by leveraging the expertise of local experts and farmers for a broader audience. Although a number of different video production models exist, this toolkit focuses specifically on low-cost video created by local field staff, farmers, and local experts. As such, this toolkit will not provide you with a prescribed model. Instead, it aims to guide you through a series of questions that will help you and your team to design a low-cost video activity that best suits your own objectives, beneficiaries, and project realities.

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Modern ICT for Agricultural Development and Risk Management in Smallholder Agriculture in India. CIMMYT. Socio-Economics Working Paper 3 Surabhi Mittal, 2012

The farmer’s exposure to risk and uncertainty is often aggravated by lack of information about weather, inputs, farm management practices or market prices, and this lack of information has an adverse impact on crop production and income. The evidence suggests that a farmer who receives quality, up to date information, and who has the ability to use that information, is able to lessen the effect of these risks. Mobile-based information services influence the behavior pattern of farmers, and this facilitates the dissemination of information and the adoption of improved techniques, leading to better yields. Information about weather and prices helps farmers to reduce their production and market risks.

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ICTs: Digital Opportunities in Agricultural Extension

Dipak De, Basavaprabhu Jirli and Shaik N. Meera, (Eds) 
Agrobios, 2012 

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MEAS Framework for Designing and Implementing ICT Supported Extension and Information Services (July 2013)

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Food Security in a World of Natural Resource Scarcity : The Role of Agricultural Technologies

Mark W. Rosegrant, Jawoo Koo, Nicola Cenacchi, Claudia Ringler, Richard Robertson, Myles Fisher, Cindy Cox, Karen Garrett, Nicostrato D. Perez, and Pascale Sabbagh

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2014

The study profiles 11 agricultural innovations: crop protection, drip irrigation, drought tolerance, heat tolerance, integrated soil fertility management, no-till farming, nutrient use efficiency, organic agriculture, precision agriculture, sprinkler irrigation, and water harvesting.Findings from the book indicate:No-till farming alone could increase maize yields by 20 per cent, but also irrigating the same no-till fields could increase maize yields by 67 percent in 2050.Nitrogen-use efficiency could increase rice crop yields by 22 per cent, but irrigation increased the yields by another 21 per cent.Heat-tolerant varieties of wheat could increase crop yields from a 17 per cent increase to a 23 percent increase with irrigation.

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Mechanization for Rural Development: A review of patterns and progress from around the world, Integrated Crop Management Vol. 20-2013, FAO, 2013

This publication presents a kaleidoscopic view of agricultural mechanization experiences from around the globe and, as such, provides a solid launching pad for the promotion of sustainable mechanization technologies that are so vital if we are to feed, with due regard to the planet’s natural capital, the burgeoning world population both now and into the future.It also discusses the development of farm mechanization in BANGLADESH, NEPAL & INDIA (See Chapters 4 and 5). 

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High-Level Policy Dialogue on Technology Transfer for Smallholder Farmers

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Options and Strategies for Information and Communication Technologies within Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services By Karen Vignare, Michigan State University, March 2013.

In this MEAS discussion paper, by appreciating the fact that suggesting a best-fit-for-all ICT in extension and advisory services is difficult because of the diversity of participants involved (from farmers to extension agents, NGO staff, government agencies to university researchers) Dr Karen Vignare presents the usefulness of 

ICT tools for variousparticipants.

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Reflecting on the nature of INFORMATION, KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING

Information, knowledge and learning are critical for extension. However lack of clarity about these terms sometimes confuses our thinking. For HELVETAS, Knowledge sharing is more important than knowledge management. Read the brief below to know more about these issues.

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September 2012 publication
FAO Expert Consultation Communication for Development
Meeting today''s agriculture and rural development challenges

The comprehensive final report of the FAO Expert Consultation (14-16 September 2011, Rome) outlines the process leading to the event, presents the methodology used to inspire dialogue and provides highlights from the three days of discussion. The experts concurred that FAO should take a leading role for mainstreaming ComDev in the rural development agenda and devised recommendations.

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Africa Renewal: Special Edition on Agriculture, 2014

AS THE AFRICAN UNION MARKS 2014 AS THE YEAR OF AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY, this special edition looks at the many challenges and opportunities facing Africa’s agriculture – from land issues, to investments and innovations inspired by information technology, to the important role played by women in fighting hunger and malnutrition. It mixes new and updated stories that have been previously published in Africa Renewal over the past few years. 

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Mobile Technology Handbook 2014, Pact Inc

This handbook serves as a comprehensive resource for getting started with mobile data collection. Mobile technology – mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets – have not only changed the way people communicate and share information, but also how development professionals conduct surveys, disseminate information to program participants, collect beneficiary feedback, and many other activities. It discusses how mobile technology can improve data collection for development programming, M&E, and other applications.

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CONNECT: A practical guide to using ICTs in community programs - Plan International, Finland 

The guide has been in development based on experiences and input from staff working on the ground with communities in Plan programs in several countries. Chapters include:
1 Assessing the potential of ICTs
2 Assessing the social context for ICTs
3 Assessing the physical context for ICTs
4 Reviewing
5 Choosing the ICT
6 Planning for sustainability
7 Building capacity
8 Monitoring, evaluation and sharing learning

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Sourcebook: Communication for Rural Development FAO 2014 

Communication for development (ComDev) is a people-centred approach that combines participatory methods with the power of media – ranging from rural radio to modern ICTs. In agriculture, it is particularly powerful, as it may ensure smallholders’ access to relevant information and promote multistakeholder participation and collaboration. This Sourcebook is a comprehensive resource for communication and development professionals who want to apply participatory communication in agriculture and rural development initiatives

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Mobiles for Agricultural Development Exploring trends, challenges and policy options for the Dutch government Alterra Wageningen UR

The objectives of this study was to explore the international collaboration around this topic, and the wiliness to unite and act together. In order to answer these questions, Alterra performed a literature review, of several evaluation reports touching the topic of mobile applications, identifying key stakeholder active in this field and kept fifteen interviews by telephone among the selected key stakeholders. Shared are the results gathered and structured through the attached report, called Mobiles for agricultural development.

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Gender and Inclusion Toolbox: Participatory Research in Climate Change and Agriculture

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), 2014

This manual introduces a wide range of participatory strategies and tools for research to guide the implementation of climate smart agriculture and efforts to achieve food security in rural communities. It is intended for NGO practitioners and program designers interested in diagnostic and action research for gender sensitive and socially inclusive climate change programs.

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IFMR LEAD: The Efficacy and Financial Sustainability of Mobile Phone-Based Agricultural Extension

Description: This policy brief describes lessons from a large-scale field experiment that has delivered mobile-phone-based agricultural information to cotton farmers in western India since 2011.

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Communication interventions for gender equality and social equity in aquatic agricultural systems: A review of the literature World Fish Centre, 2014

This literature review addresses a gap in existing research by identifying the role of gender equality and social equity related communication components in Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) and agricultural interventions. This critical review of peer-reviewed and gray literature in AAS and agriculture will identify opportunities for future work and inform the design and implementation of relevant communication interventions.

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Policy Paper: 70 MOOC for Capacity Building in Indian Agriculture: Opportunities and Challenges

National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) India, November 2014

The MOOC are a disruptive innovation resulting from the convergence of distance education (DE) – with its well-established processes for curriculum development and assessment and accreditation, and e-learning which offers anytime learning opportunities with a defined pedagogy. Considering the need to explore the opportunities and challenges for capacity building in Indian agriculture using MOOC, the Academy in partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Vancouver, Canada convened a brainstorming session on 5th March, 2014 at New Delhi.

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Mobile Phones for Agricultural Extension: Worldwide mAgri Innovations and Promise for Future, Saravanan Raj

Mobile phones have revolutionised the communication process and have become all-in-one magical devices for communicating at anytime and anywhere. The last decade has seen a flourish in the number of mobile based agro-advisory service initiatives in the developing countries and more are being added regularly in some parts of the world. Services that started with farmers’ help-lines accessed through landlines and messages (SMS) have evolved slowly to multimodal and multimedia based delivery of advisory and to m-agriculture applications for smartphones. In this rapidly changing m-Agriculture scenario, this book is an attempt to document the evolution of mobile phone based agro-advisory services around the world.

The content of the book comprises of country chapters on mobile phone applications for agricultural extension from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe along with chapters on global review on m-agriculture initiatives, content generation process and socio-economic impact of mobile phone based agro-advisory services. This book delves into the development of mobile phone based agro-advisory and their content, delivery mode, business model and utility and provides an insight into the evolution of mobile phones as an extension tool in different countries across the globe.

The book will provide valuable insights on m-agriculture initiatives for agricultural extension around the world to agricultural students, extension professionals, researchers and policy makers both for understanding them and working on them. The lessons from the m-agriculture initiatives can guide the mode of implementation and evolution of mobile based advisory services in agriculture.

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