The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)Background Reportone-Agriculture Policies and Strategies ...
iiCTA’s ICT Observatory was set up in 1998 as an instrument to advise the institution and ACPpartners on ICT strategies an...
iiiLIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................
iv3.2.1.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies................................................................
v4.2.7 Lessons from existing ICT projects should inform the policy development process........................494.2.8 More...
viList of Acronyms and AbbreviationsACP………………………………………..…………………….Africa, Caribbean, and PacificAISI……………………………………………………….A...
viiREDACI………………………National Agricultural Documentation Network of Ivory CoastSIMA……Système d’information sur les marchés ag...
1Executive SummaryThis background report reviews the general state of e-Agriculture policies and strategies1inselected ACP...
2Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Post, Information Technology and Communicationto develop a national e-Agricul...
3comprehensive section devoted to the agricultural sector. Also, with the “Digital Bangladesh”agenda of the current govern...
4general production system, marketing and market research, commodity specific focus suchas livestock, crops, fisheries etc...
5approaches, successes and failures, etc. in these sectors, to prevent repetition of the samemistakes.• Awareness creation...
6Section I: General IntroductionThis introductory section gives a brief background to the Technical Centre for Agricultura...
7well as ways to strengthen these processes. It will also provide further orientations to CTA (andkey partner organisation...
81.5 Organisation of the rest of the reportThe remainder of the report is organised in three further sections. Section II ...
9Section II: e-AgricultureThis section gives an overview of the concept of e-Agriculture, its historical evolution over th...
102.2 Historical evolution of the e-Agriculture movementThe concept of e-Agriculture emerged out of WSIS in 2003/2005 when...
112.3 The e-Agriculture community of expertiseThe e-Agriculture Community9was also launched in September 2007 by a group t...
12traceability and quality assurance in support of marketing. Meanwhile, applications such asiFormBuilder (Globally), Mobe...
13Section III: e-Agriculture Policies & StrategiesIn order to clearly present the current state of e-Agriculture policies ...
14Learning and e-Science were covered14. The report outlined successes made within othersectors but did not mention any ex...
15stakeholders over the years have shown that there are major policy gaps and disconnects in thearea of e-Agriculture poli...
16behind the policy development by the government and its partners are made clear to thebeneficiaries from the outset. IIC...
17IICD believes in the overarching experience of global knowledge exchange, it also values anduses local, country-specific...
18It was identified through some contacts made by CTA that since 2011, UNECA has beenworking with a few countries, such as...
19Table 1: Experiences of international organisations with e-Agriculture policies &strategiesInstitution Perspectives and ...
203.2 National experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe main component of this background report is to unde...
21System (AMIS), and a land use management and information system, implemented to ensureproper usage, planning and managem...
223.2.1.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesRwanda has recognised the need for national e-Agriculture pol...
233.2.2 GHANA - Africa3.2.2.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in GhanaAgriculture still dominates Ghana’s economy, contributing ...
243.2.2.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesAs noted above, the role of ICTs in Ghana’s agriculture was ...
25enhance women’s access to modern technologies.iii) Use of ICTs to promote processing, preservation and storage of agricu...
26These shortfalls of the agricultural sector and the potential of the new ICTs have led to thecommitment of the governmen...
27ICT equipment, improving Ivory Coast’s National Agricultural Documentation Network(REDACI), improving services for docum...
28telecommunication fund was set up ten years ago through a two percent tax contribution from alltelecom operators.3.2.4 S...
293.2.4.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe consultation on the subject in Saint Lucia took a region...
30and monitoring of multi-objective forest management activities.ii) Production and Marketing Information System (PMIS) to...
313.2.5 FIJI - Pacific3.2.5.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in FijiAgriculture is the mainstay of Fiji’s economy, contributing...
32unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) technology to send information between amobile phone and an application o...
33The growth of the ICT sector in India has been very significant in the past decade, buildingenormous confidence for itse...
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP
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Final background report - e-agriculture strategies in ACP

  1. 1. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)Background Reportone-Agriculture Policies and Strategies in ACP CountriesIn preparation of the CTA’s 2013 ICT ObservatoryWorking document.Report prepared by Benjamin Kwasi Addom, PhDJanuary 2013
  2. 2. iiCTA’s ICT Observatory was set up in 1998 as an instrument to advise the institution and ACPpartners on ICT strategies and applications relevant to ACP countries ARD and to identify ICTpolicy issues, experiences and projects. The Observatory has taken the form of a two to threeday expert meeting, delivering recommendations shared within CTA and with the wider public.Since 1998, several themes have been discussed; among them are: Introduction of ICTs inagricultural information systems (1998); Gender and agriculture in the information society(2002); ICTs – transforming agricultural extension? (2003); “Giving Youth a Voice” – ICTs forRural Youth Livelihoods (2004); and the potential of mobile applications to deliver ruralinformation services (2010).The 2013 ICT Observatory will review and discuss the needs, formulation processes, andstrategic actions to be put in place to strengthen the implementation of effective and inclusiveICT for agriculture (e-agriculture) strategies in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.CTA Officer in charge: Ken Lohento, ICT4D Programme CoordinatorDisclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do notnecessarily represent the views of CTA.
  3. 3. iiiLIST OF TABLES............................................................................................................................. VLIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS ......................................................................VIEXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................................................ 1SECTION I: GENERAL INTRODUCTION.................................................................................. 61.1 The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).............................................. 61.2. Background to the study..................................................................................................................... 61.3 The purpose and scope of the report ................................................................................................. 71.4 Methodology.......................................................................................................................................... 71.5 Organisation of the rest of the report ................................................................................................. 8SECTION II: E-AGRICULTURE ................................................................................................... 92.1 Definition of e-Agriculture.................................................................................................................... 92.2 Historical evolution of the e-Agriculture movement ....................................................................... 102.3 The e-Agriculture community of expertise....................................................................................... 112.4 Overview of international e-Agriculture applications & initiatives ................................................ 112.5 e-Agriculture applications in the absence of policies or strategies.............................................. 12SECTION III: E-AGRICULTURE POLICIES & STRATEGIES............................................133.1 Overview of experiences by international organisations ............................................................... 133.1.1 FAO ..............................................................................................................................................................143.1.1.1 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................143.1.1.2 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................143.1.2 IICD ..............................................................................................................................................................153.1.2.1 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................153.1.2.2 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................163.1.3 UNECA ........................................................................................................................................................173.1.3.1 Experiences with e-Strategies................................................................................................................173.1.3.2 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................183.2 National experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies...................................................... 203.2.1 RWANDA - Africa.......................................................................................................................................203.2.1.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Rwanda ....................................................................................................203.2.1.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................21
  4. 4. iv3.2.1.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................223.2.2 GHANA - Africa ..........................................................................................................................................233.2.2.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Ghana.......................................................................................................233.2.2.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................243.2.2.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................253.2.3 IVORY COAST - Africa .............................................................................................................................253.2.3.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Ivory Coast ...............................................................................................253.2.3.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................263.2.3.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................273.2.4 SAINT LUCIA - Caribbean........................................................................................................................283.2.4.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Saint Lucia................................................................................................283.2.4.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................293.2.4.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................303.2.5 FIJI - Pacific ................................................................................................................................................313.2.5.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Fiji.............................................................................................................313.2.5.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................323.2.5.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................323.2.6 INDIA - Asia ................................................................................................................................................323.2.6.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in India .........................................................................................................323.2.6.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................333.2.6.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................353.2.7 BANGLADESH - Asia................................................................................................................................353.2.7.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Bangladesh...............................................................................................353.2.7.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................................................................363.2.7.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategies...............................................................................373.2.8 BOLIVIA – Latin America ..........................................................................................................................37SECTION IV: KEY FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATIONS & CONCLUSION......................404.1 Key Findings........................................................................................................................................ 404.1.1 Experiences from international institutions.............................................................................................404.1.2 Experiences from country cases..............................................................................................................404.1.3 Issues and challenges...............................................................................................................................434.1.3.1 Stakeholder involvement and policy ownership....................................................................................434.1.3.2 Multi-stakeholder partnership for policy development process ...........................................................434.1.3.3 Lack of understanding of the role and potential of ICT in agriculture ...................................................444.1.3.4 Lack of interest in e-Agriculture policy in most countries......................................................................444.1.3.5 Poor collaboration between the ministries in charge of ICTs and agriculture.......................................454.1.3.6 Institutional and political malfunctions .................................................................................................454.1.3.7 Regulatory issues ...................................................................................................................................454.1.3.8 Other implementation challenges .........................................................................................................454.1.4 Key orientations and target areas............................................................................................................454.1.5 Expected areas of support........................................................................................................................464.2 Recommendations to CTA and allied stakeholders........................................................................ 474.2.1 Include discussion of the report and the conclusions of the ICT Observatory in the WSIS forum inMay 2013...............................................................................................................................................................474.2.2 Case studies ...............................................................................................................................................484.2.3 Identification of related policies within agriculture and information sectors.......................................484.2.4 Creation of e-Agriculture policy or strategy development task force and committees.....................484.2.5 National e-Agriculture policy or strategy toolkit......................................................................................494.2.6 Lessons from ICT strategies and other e-sectoral strategies..............................................................49
  5. 5. v4.2.7 Lessons from existing ICT projects should inform the policy development process........................494.2.8 More emphasis should be directed at implementation and M&E stages...........................................504.2.9 Involve government officials from the outset..........................................................................................504.3 Conclusion........................................................................................................................................... 50Endnotes.................................................................................................................................................... 53List of TablesTable 1: Experiences of international organisations with e-Agriculture policies &strategies ..................................................................................................................................... 19Table 2: Country experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategies.............................. 39Table 3: List of Respondents.................................................................................................... 52
  6. 6. viList of Acronyms and AbbreviationsACP………………………………………..…………………….Africa, Caribbean, and PacificAISI……………………………………………………….African Information Society InitiativeAMIS…………………………………………..Agricultural Management Information SystemARD……………………………………….………………Agriculture and Rural DevelopmentCAADP………………………...Comprehensive African Agricultural Development ProgramCGIAR………………………….Consultative Group on International Agricultural ResearchCILS……………………………………………………………….Crop Import License SystemCPMMR………………………………….Crop Production Monitoring and Market ResearchCSO…………………………………………………………………Civil Society OrganisationsCTA…………………………..The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural CooperationDESA…………………………………………….Department of Economic and Social AffairsEAWG…………………………………………………………….e-Agriculture Working GroupECAMIC…………………………………..Eastern Corridor Agro-Market Information CenterFAO………………………………………………………...Food and Agriculture OrganizationFASDEP…………………………………..Food and Agriculture Sector Development PolicyFIMS……………………………………………..Fisheries Information Management SystemFMIS…………………………………………………Forest Information Management SystemGAINS………………………………………Ghana Agricultural Information Network SystemGIS…………………………………………………………….Geographic Information SystemGFAR…………………………………………..……..Global Forum on Agricultural ResearchGTZ……………………………………….…..Gesellschaft fur Technische ZusammenarbeitIAALD……………………..International Association of Agricultural Information SpecialistsICT………………………………………………Information and Communication TechnologyICKM……………………………Information Communication and Knowledge ManagementICT4AD……………………………………………………...ICT for Accelerated DevelopmentICT4D………………………….Information Communication Technologies for DevelopmentIDRC…………………………………………….International Development Research CenterIICA…………………………………..InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on AgricultureIICD……………………………….International Communication and Development InstituteIFAD…………………………………………International Fund for Agricultural DevelopmentISPs…………………………………………………………………..Internet Service ProvidersITU…………………………………………………….International Telecommunication UnionLCQIS…………………………………Livestock and Crops Quarantine Information SystemLRD……………………………………………………………………Land Resources DivisionMAAR………………………………………….Ministry of Agriculture and Animal ResourcesMDGs…………………………………………………………..Millennium Development GoalsMETASIP…………………………………Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment PlanMIS…………………………………………………………………Market Information SystemsMISTOWA………Market Information Systems and Traders’ Organisations of West AfricaMNOs………………………………………………………………..Mobile Network OperatorsMOFA…………………………………………………………Ministry of Food and AgricultureNIC………………………………………………………………….National Informatics CenterNICI………………………………...National Information and Communication InfrastructurePDSIS…………………………………..Pest and Disease Surveillance Information SystemPMIS………………………………………….Production and Marketing Information System
  7. 7. viiREDACI………………………National Agricultural Documentation Network of Ivory CoastSIMA……Système d’information sur les marchés agricoles/Agricultural Market InformationSystemSIA…………………………Système d’information agricole/Agricultural Information SystemSLARIS………………………………….St. Lucia Agricultural Resource Information SystemUNECA…………………………………….United Nations Economic Commission for AfricaUNCTAD…………………………..United Nations Conference on Trade and DevelopmentUSAID…………………………………United States Agency for International DevelopmentWHO…………………………………………………………………World Health OrganizationWRMIS…………………………………..Water Resource Management Information SystemWSIS……………………………………………….World Summit on the Information SocietyYPO……………………………………………………………Young Presidents’ Organisation
  8. 8. 1Executive SummaryThis background report reviews the general state of e-Agriculture policies and strategies1inselected ACP and non-ACP countries. It is a desk research that has been developed inpreparation for the 2013 ICT Observatory meeting and only aims at providing a quick overviewon the issue. The nature of the research and the limited timeframe did not allow for a detailedanalysis on the status of e-Agriculture strategy processes in the selected countries.The report identifies some of the key challenges, target orientations, and key areas of supportfor national e-Agriculture policies or strategies’ development as reported by the variousstakeholders. Consultations with stakeholders took place between October and December 2012mainly through Skype and phone calls, and supplemented with email interviews and analysis ofpolicy documents. Below is a brief summary of the findings and recommendations. (Detailedfindings and recommendations of the study are presented in the body of the report).I: SUMMARY OF FINDINGSA) Overview of national e-Agriculture policies and strategies: The results show that thereare initiatives (at various stages) in a few countries to develop such strategies or policies.However, the consultation reveals that in most ACP countries, there was no interest orunderstanding of the need for e-Agriculture strategies or policies even though theimportance of ICT in agriculture is generally recognized. Reports from some UNorganisations, such as ITU and UNECA, recognize little progress has been made on e-Agriculture strategies, whereas e-strategies in other sectors such as governance and healthdo exist. Below is the state of national e-Agriculture strategies or policies from countriesexamined.• Ghana (Africa): The Ghana ICTs in Agriculture Implementation Strategy was developed in2005, certainly as a follow-up to ICT provisions in the 2003 national ICT for AcceleratedDevelopment Policy document, and a draft report on Implementation Strategy and ActionPlans for Modernisation of Agriculture and Development of Agro-Business Industry in Ghanawas released in 2007 for review and implementation. It was not clear during the studywhether the plan has actually been implemented and evaluated.• Ivory Coast (Africa): A recent development in Ivory Coast shows a joint effort by the
  9. 9. 2Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Post, Information Technology and Communicationto develop a national e-Agriculture policy. According to a press release on the Ministries’website, a national strategy document for “e.Agriculture” has been developed and iscurrently with the Council of State for approval.• Rwanda (Africa): Consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources(MAAR) in Rwanda revealed current efforts in formulating a national strategy to integrateICTs into agriculture and natural resource management programs across the country. It isbeing described as a “Strategic Plan for Agricultural Transformation”, with a key componenton the institutional development of an agricultural knowledge and management system.• Mali and Burkina Faso: Through contacts made by CTA, it appears that UNECA has beencollaborating with these two countries to develop a cyber-strategy for agriculture or ruraldevelopment in 2011. (Note: Mali and Burkina Faso were not among the countries selectedfor the study).• Saint Lucia (Caribbean): In Saint Lucia, there is no evidence of efforts to develop anational e-Agriculture policy or strategy. However, the study found that the country’s nationalICT policy document has recognised the role of ICTs in the development of the agriculturalsector, which is one of the pillars of its economy. The St. Lucia Agricultural ResourceInformation System (SLARIS) therefore has specific target areas for integration of ICTs intoagriculture and rural development.• Fiji (Pacific): No evidence was found in Fiji for the existence of a national e-Agriculturepolicy or strategy. Analysis of the National IT Policy of Fiji shows no mention of theagricultural sector. However, one of the goals of the 2011 National Broadband Policy for thecountry is to develop lead applications in agriculture and fisheries to assist in efficientproduction, marketing and logistics in the primary industries, including agriculture.• India (Asia): In India, while it has not been specifically described as a national e-Agriculturepolicy, there are efforts to create awareness about the need to develop a “NationalAgricultural Informatics Framework”. Also, the country has a national ICT policy within whichagriculture is a key component; moreover, in the national agriculture policy, the role of ICTsfor extension and dissemination of agricultural information is well recognised.• Bangladesh (Asia): Not much progress has been made in developing a national e-Agriculture policy and a recent initiative between the private and public sectors to develop apolicy guideline for public-private interaction in the area of agriculture informationdissemination has been stalled due to political changes. The proposed national ICT policy ofthe country, however, recognises the importance of ICTs in agriculture and has a
  10. 10. 3comprehensive section devoted to the agricultural sector. Also, with the “Digital Bangladesh”agenda of the current government, there is hope for such an initiative in the future.• Bolivia (Latin America): In addition to the above selected countries, the study found that inBolivia, an “ICT Strategy for the Agriculture Sector” was developed with support from IICD in2002. The current status of this document could not be identified.B) Issues and challenges: Below are some general experiences shared by stakeholders thatcan inform future initiatives aimed at supporting ACP countries in developing national e-Agriculture policies or strategies.• Policy ownership: Experiences in ICT policy and other sectoral policy development showthat national ownership is critical in the entire process. The involvement of internationalorganizations, if needed, should be limited to awareness creation, and technical andfinancial support.• Multi-stakeholder partnership: The study found that multi-stakeholder partnership involvingthe public sector, the private sector, civil society and international organisations is neededfor successful policy development, implementation, and monitoring. With respect to thenational e-Agriculture policies or strategies, a strong collaboration between the two keyministries – the ministry in charge of agriculture and the one in charge of ICTs - is critical atthe national level. Strong collaboration between ICT-focused and agriculture-focusedinternational organisations (ITU, UNECA, FAO, CTA, IICD, etc.) is also needed on this issue.• Other challenges recalled by stakeholders include the general lack of interest orunderstanding of e-Agriculture policies or strategies by many stakeholders at the nationallevel; the sheer lack of understanding of the role and potential of ICTs in agriculture, even atthe senior official level; issues with institutional and political structures; regulatory changes inthe absence of formal policies; poor collaboration between ministries in charge of ICTs andagriculture; among others. Other implementation challenges mentioned by the respondentsinclude: scarcity of electricity supply; poor ICT infrastructure; low ICT literacy; lack ofrelevant content; non-integration of services; lack of advisory services; issues of localisationof ICTs; and resource mobilisation.C) Orientations and target areas: Respondents also identified some key target areas expectedto be covered in their national e-Agriculture policies. These include: local content, weatherservices, farm health management informatics, infrastructure and equipment, universalaccess, training and capacity building, post-harvest management, forest management,
  11. 11. 4general production system, marketing and market research, commodity specific focus suchas livestock, crops, fisheries etc., water resource management, R&D, and risk management.D) Expected areas of support: Among the few areas identified for support is capacity buildingfor national actors in the entire policy development process. While some of the internationalorganisations argued that the financial cost should not exceed the capacity of the nationalgovernments, national stakeholders did ask for budgetary support for policy development,implementation, and monitoring.II: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CTA AND ALLIED PARTNERSThe key recommendations made for CTA and other international organizations, to beimplemented in partnership when required, are introduced below and presented in the lastsection of the report.• Include discussion of the conclusion of this report and of the ICT Observatorymeeting in the WSIS forum in May 2013: It has been acknowledged during theconsultation that the issue of national e-Agriculture policies and strategies transcends theboundaries of ACP countries. Since the concept of e-sector policies emerged out of WSIS2003-2005, a first target for CTA could be to present the outcomes of this study and thestakeholder consultation to be held later, for consideration by the global stakeholders at theMay 2013 WSIS forum.• Commission a more detailed case study: It is also recommended that a broader surveystudy (this can include a formal survey covering most ACP countries), and a more detailedanalysis of on-going processes in a few countries be undertaken.• Create a global level task force and national level committees: It is recommended that aglobal level task force and national level committees be created, in collaboration with otherregional bodies within the ACP and international institutions with interest in the sector. Thesenew global and national bodies shall consist of a network of policy experts from theagricultural and ICT sectors and shall act as the backbone for developing, implementing andevaluating the national e-Agriculture policies or strategies.• Build a national e-Agriculture policy toolkit: This toolkit can take the form of a living andinteractive database with various components of e-policy, to enable countries to exploreoptions based on their specific situation. Lessons and best practices from other sectors suchas health, education and governance shall be utilised to understand the models,
  12. 12. 5approaches, successes and failures, etc. in these sectors, to prevent repetition of the samemistakes.• Awareness creation and monitoring of the policy process at national level:Campaigning and awareness creation should be undertaken by relevant actors to sensitisestakeholders about the importance of e-Agriculture policies. In the process, more emphasisshall be directed at implementation and M&E stages and senior government officials shall beinvolved from the outset, to ensure a high level of political endorsement and a pledge forfuture implementation of the policies.• Ensure local leadership in the entire process: CTA and allied institutions may beresponsible for raising awareness and providing guidance, but acting upon theserecommendations may rest on the national governments. In doing so, national governmentsmay be encouraged to allocate the responsibility for e-Agriculture policy or strategydevelopment to a specific directorate, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, and then beguided by the national e-Agriculture policy committee.• Factor in the why, which, how, and what questions of e-Agriculture: The success of thenational e-Agriculture policies or strategies program in ACP countries will depend on thedemand for ICTs by actors within the agricultural value chain. This is very high at themoment across the regions. Therefore in supporting ACP countries in e-Agriculture policy orstrategy development, CTA shall ensure the policies aim at addressing: why thestakeholders should use ICTs; what kind of ICTs should be recommended for use; whereshould ICTs be applied within the agricultural sector; and how should the ICTs be applied foragriculture and rural development in these countries?
  13. 13. 6Section I: General IntroductionThis introductory section gives a brief background to the Technical Centre for Agricultural andRural Cooperation (CTA), its role in supporting Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) andInformation and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D) in Africa, Caribbean,and Pacific (ACP) countries, the background to the study, the goal and scope of the report, themethod used to carry out the study, and the organisation of the remaining sections of the report.1.1 The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)CTA was established in 1983 under the Lomé Convention between the ACP countries andEuropean Union (EU) member states. Since 2000 CTA has operated within the framework ofthe ACP-EU Cotonou Agreement with a mission to strengthen policy and institutional capacitydevelopment and information and communication management capacities of ACP agriculturaland rural development organisations. It assists such organisations in formulating andimplementing policies and programs to reduce poverty, promote sustainable food security andpreserve the natural resource base, and thus contributes to building self-reliance in ACP ruraland agricultural development. One of the three goals of CTA’s new Strategic Plan 2011–2015,adopted by CTA in 2011, is to support favorable agricultural policies in ACP regions.1.2. Background to the studyIn Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005, the UN General Assembly endorsed the World Summit on theInformation Society (WSIS) which encouraged governments, as part of the implementation ofthe Tunis Agenda, to establish before 2010, “comprehensive, forward-looking and sustainablenational e-strategies, including ICT strategies and sectoral e-strategies, as an integral part ofnational development plans and poverty reduction strategies” (Para. 85), in order to unleash thefull potential of ICT for development. Seven years after WSIS, little is known about e-Agriculturepolicies or strategies. The WSIS Plan of Action (2005) called for measures to put in placestrategic actions on e-Agriculture.The next CTA ICT Observatory meeting, being planned for 2013, will therefore discuss the needand requirements for adopting and implementing adequate e-Agriculture policies or strategies inACP countries, and analyse their level of implementation, lessons learned, best practices, as
  14. 14. 7well as ways to strengthen these processes. It will also provide further orientations to CTA (andkey partner organisations) for specific targeted actions, including the production of a referencepublication.1.3 The purpose and scope of the reportThe purpose of this background report is to serve as an introductory resource for the 2013 ICTObservatory workshop as well as a background note for an e-discussion to be organised prior tothe workshop. The report gives a general overview of e-Agriculture, the historical evolution, andthe current state. It covers issues relating to experiences and perspectives from internationalinstitutions supporting agriculture, rural development and ICTs for development and theprogress at national level from a number of ACP and non-ACP countries in visioning,formulating, developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating e-Agriculture policies orstrategies. The report also outlines some of the key challenges either experienced or anticipatedwith e-Agriculture policies or strategies, some target areas for integrating ICTs within thenational e-Agriculture policies, and some of the expected areas of support for the policy processby the countries. It concludes with a number of recommendations for CTA and its partnerorganisations for promoting e-Agriculture policies and strategies in both ACP countries.1.4 MethodologyThe study gathered broad experiences from across a number of ACP and non-ACP countries,by comparing, analysing and identifying common and differing themes, concepts, issues andlessons in the context of e-Agriculture strategies and policies. This was done in collaborationwith the CTA official in charge of this project as well as selected country representatives inICT4D and ARD sectors. Given the timing and budget constraints, the study focused ongathering the experiences through three basic techniques: i) document review and analysis, ii)email consultations, and iii) Skype and phone calls. In all, twelve (12) stakeholders wereconsulted from the public sector, the private sector, and international organisations 2.Respondents came from the Ministries of Agriculture, Information, Communication, ICTs, andother related sectors; and also geographically from ACP and non-ACP countries. Timeconstraints and the unavailability of stakeholders did not permit the gathering of full details onthe achievements or future plans in the countries under discussion.
  15. 15. 81.5 Organisation of the rest of the reportThe remainder of the report is organised in three further sections. Section II gives an overviewof the concept of e-Agriculture, the historical evolution of its international dynamics over theyears, the progress made through the e-Agriculture Community of Expertise, and someexamples of e-Agriculture applications across the world. The section concludes with commentson the need for policies to guide the implementation of the applications. Section III then looks atthe issue of e-Agriculture policies and strategies through national, regional, and internationallenses. It covers experiences and perspectives from regional and international institutions insupporting nations in formulating, implementing and evaluating sector policies, and the nature ofsupport given to the national governments. The section also presents experiences,perspectives, key challenges in the policy process, key orientations in the policy documents,and expected areas of support for e-Agriculture policy development from eight countries (5 ACPand 3 non-ACP). The last section (Section IV) then gives a summary of the key findings fromthe study, recommendations for action, and a conclusion.
  16. 16. 9Section II: e-AgricultureThis section gives an overview of the concept of e-Agriculture, its historical evolution over theyears, progress that have been made through the e-Agriculture Community of Expertise andsome experiences with e-Agriculture applications across the world. It concludes with the needfor policies to guide the implementation of the applications.2.1 Definition of e-AgricultureAs with most contested terms, there seems to be no agreed definition for “e-Agriculture”. A 2006survey conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations foundthat half of those who replied identified “e-Agriculture” with information dissemination, accessand exchange, communication and participatory process improvements in rural development,compared with less than a third that highlighted the importance of technical hardware andtechnological tools.FAO proposes a definition for “e-Agriculture” as:An emerging field in the intersection of agricultural informatics, agricultural development andentrepreneurship, referring to agricultural services, technology dissemination, and informationdelivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies (The Food and AgricultureOrganization)3.But the concept of e-Agriculture goes beyond technology to embrace models that integrateknowledge management practices aimed at improving communication and learning processesamong relevant actors in agriculture at different levels. It targets information access gapsthrough effective dissemination techniques and tools between knowledge generators and users.It emphasizes new and innovative communication technologies and the social media withoutignoring the traditional mass media such as radio and TV, and rural community telecentres. Itfocuses on the enhancement of agriculture and rural development through improved informationand communication processes. It involves the conceptualisation, design, development,evaluation and application of innovative ways to use ICTs in the rural domain, with a primaryfocus on agriculture4. It is the use of ICTs to improve agriculture, food security, and ruraldevelopment5.
  17. 17. 102.2 Historical evolution of the e-Agriculture movementThe concept of e-Agriculture emerged out of WSIS in 2003/2005 when e-Agriculture wasidentified as one of the key action lines to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Paragraph 21(a) of the WSIS Plan of Action C.7 ICT Applications, e-Agriculture called formeasures to ensure the systematic dissemination of information, using ICT, on agriculture,animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and food, in order to provide ready access tocomprehensive, up-to-date and detailed knowledge and information, particularly in rural areas.At the end of WSIS 2005, FAO was designated to lead the development and subsequentfacilitation of activities that would truly engage stakeholders at all levels. In June 2006, FAOhosted the first workshop on e-Agriculture in Rome that brought together representatives ofleading development organisations involved in agriculture. This led to the creation of the e-Agriculture Working Group (EAWG)6. The mandate of the EAWG includes the creation of multi-stakeholder, people-centered, cross-sectoral platform(s) that will bring together stakeholdersrepresenting relevant constituencies of e-Agriculture. The EAWG members decided that thedefinition of e-Agriculture contained in the WSIS documentation on Action Line C.7 wasinadequate and required revision7. The first major activity by the EAWG therefore was toestablish an initial engagement of stakeholders through an open survey on e-Agriculture, whichwas implemented in October-November 2006. This led to the definition of e-Agriculture on theprevious page.In September 2007, an “e-Agriculture Week” was held in Rome which highlighted the role ofinformation, communication and knowledge management in agriculture and rural development,and allowed more than 300 participants to interact in discussions related to technologies, policyand sharing of expertise. One of the highlights of the week was a conference on Web2ForDev:Participatory Web for Development initiated by CTA and organised by FAO and a number ofcollaborating organisations8. In December of the same year, the International Institute forCommunication and Development (IICD) and CTA announced a collaboration agreement in thearea of ICTs for agricultural and rural development. The agreement aimed at capacity buildingof stakeholders in ACP countries, which was expected to take place through in-country trainingevents, as well as through the use of distance learning tools in order to increase the number ofpeople that could be trained.
  18. 18. 112.3 The e-Agriculture community of expertiseThe e-Agriculture Community9was also launched in September 2007 by a group that believes inthe potential of ICT to empower agricultural development and bridge the rural digital divide. Thee-Agriculture Community of Expertise is a global initiative to enhance sustainable agriculturaldevelopment and food security by helping stakeholders to share experiences and best practiceson information exchange, communication and the use of associated technologies in the sector.The Community reinforces the value of global dialogue and cooperation to address emergingissues around the role of ICT as an instrument of sustainable development. Today, the e-Agriculture Community of Expertise is growing and supporting its members by sharingexperiences and best practices. According to the 5th Anniversary Newsletter published by the e-Agriculture Community10, the Community has remained strong over the years, with memberssharing information and exchanging content. There are now over 490 resources in theknowledge base, 1600 news items, 450 events and 97 blogs. Community members also interactthrough the Communitys social media channels: e-Agriculture has over 9,700 followers onTwitter, more than 1,400 Facebook supporters and 1,200 LinkedIn contacts.2.4 Overview of international e-Agriculture applications & initiativesThe history of ICTs in agriculture (e-Agriculture) dates back to the era of the use of radio fordissemination of extension information to farmers. With the emergence of the new technologiesand social media, the need to deliver accurate and timely information to smallholder farmers hasrocketed. Globally, the proliferation of ICT applications across the agricultural value chain ismind-boggling. e-Agriculture applications and initiatives such as OakMapper (North America),Rural Universe Network (RUNetwork) (Africa), eRails (Africa), AGORA and TEEAL (LDCs) arefacilitating agricultural research and development. Access to inputs such as fertiliser, seeds andinsurance are also being facilitated by applications like E-Voucher (Zambia), the Agrian MobileInformation Center (USA), and Kilimo Salama (Kenya). Other production applications beingused across the globe include Crop Calendar (FAO), iCow (Kenya), NEXT2 being piloted inKenya and Nigeria, and a host of traditional radio programs. For market information,applications such as Agriculture Price Alert (North America), M-Farm (Kenya), RegionalAgriculture Trade Intelligence Network (RATIN) (East Africa) and the Africa Commodities andFutures Exchange (ACFEX) (Africa) are all currently operating. There are also a host ofapplications such as SourceTrace (USA), ScoringAg (Globally), Harvest Mark Food Traceability(USA), and Reliable Information Tracking System (RITS) (Mexico) that are being used for
  19. 19. 12traceability and quality assurance in support of marketing. Meanwhile, applications such asiFormBuilder (Globally), Mobenzi (South Africa), PoiMapper (Globally) and EpiSurveyor(Globally) are being used to collect data for monitoring and evaluation.2.5 e-Agriculture applications in the absence of policies or strategiesWhile countries around the world have made significant progress in terms of national ICT policydevelopment and implementation, sector policies are generally still at the teething stage. Asnoted above, e-Agriculture applications continue to multiply in the absence of sound policies,strategies and plans to guide their development and implementation. While this lack of e-Agriculture policies may not necessarily be an impediment to the current growth of ICT foragriculture, the future presence of appropriate policies or strategies could help in a number ofways. National e-Agriculture policies, for example, could help nations clearly argue their positionor stance on a number of challenges currently being experienced within the sector. Well-developed policies may outline procedures for the implementation of ICT projects, operations ofservice providers, enforceable or advisory guidelines by governments for users andimplementers, and the code of conduct for all actors.The next section thus shares experiences and views from stakeholders with respect to e-strategies in general, and specifically e-Agriculture policies and strategies, in some ACP andnon-ACP countries.
  20. 20. 13Section III: e-Agriculture Policies & StrategiesIn order to clearly present the current state of e-Agriculture policies and strategies, theconsultation included views, perspectives and experiences from other sector policydevelopments. The findings presented here are therefore organised under two main sub-sections. The first sub-section presents perspectives and experiences on e-Agriculture policiesand strategies from international institutions such as FAO, IICD, and UNECA that have beeninvolved in this area. The second sub-section presents national overviews drawn from selectedcountries in the ACP and non-ACP regions.3.1 Overview of experiences by international organisations11The sectoral e-strategies are often national plans for the strategic application of ICT in specificsectors of a country’s economy. These strategies, even though formulated and implemented atnational level, have strong links with the international community. The Tunis Agenda for theInformation Society encourages governments that have not yet done so to take appropriatesteps in developing sector strategies for their national development agenda.Significant progress has been made in other sectors such as governance, business, health,learning/education and science in formulating and implementing e-strategies. A recent report byITU on National e-Strategies for Development – Global Status and Perspectives12cited theprogress made with the governance sector by India, Denmark, Abu Dhabi and Algeria indeveloping comprehensive e-Government policies to modernise their administrative activitiesthrough digitisation programs. Guyana acknowledges the role of electronic commerce infacilitating a range of services such as legal, accounting, medical, educational, financial, dataprocessing, retailing and tourism in transforming its economy, and subsequently highlighted e-Business in its national development strategy. Successful e-Health strategies have been seen inAustralia, Lithuania and Ghana. With support from the World Bank, Lithuania developed andadopted an e-Health Strategy for 2005-2010 based on a modern, patient-centered andcomprehensive approach to telemedicine, clinical decision support, distance learning andpatient awareness. The ITU report13has acknowledged the shortfalls in some other sectors,including the agricultural sector, in developing national e-Agricultural strategies.In a 2008 UNECA report that outlined trends and experiences in implementing WSIS outcomesat regional level in Africa, ICT applications such as e-Government, e-Business, e-Health, e-
  21. 21. 14Learning and e-Science were covered14. The report outlined successes made within othersectors but did not mention any experience or progress with the agricultural sector. The nextsub-section thus presents specific experiences from international institutions working on ICTsfor development, policies, agriculture and rural development issues.3.1.1 FAOThe Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) is the lead agency forthe coordination of e-Agriculture initiatives at global level in the framework of the post-WSISprocess. Its consultation was therefore critical on this issue.3.1.1.1 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesIt was observed during the consultation that the focus of FAO since WSIS has been more onpromoting ICT applications through the e-Agriculture Community of Expertise. Very little, ifanything, has been done in promoting and supporting the development of national e-Agriculturepolicies or strategies. According to the FAO’s respondent, there is a range of nationalagricultural policies and strategies that integrate the new communication tools to facilitateaccess to agricultural information, just as most national ICT policies have components dealingwith application of ICTs for agriculture. The respondent cited specific initiatives, such as policiesthat require the communication of outputs from research centres to farmers. In Ghana, forexample, FAO is working with the national research institutes to create a new national researchpolicy about the dissemination of information, and making certain types of data accessible to berepackaged for mobile distribution. In this case, ICTs are key in supporting the dissemination ofagricultural information to users. Another example is where national policies requiretelecommunication companies to provide a certain amount of coverage in rural areas, such as inThailand. The role of Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development(CIARD), in utilising ICTs to make agricultural research information publicly available andaccessible to all, has also been mentioned. These specific policies, the respondent argued,should be seen as part of an enabling environment for e-Agriculture at the national level.3.1.1.2 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe consultation with FAO revealed how important e-Agriculture policies and strategies couldbe in the effective implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action on e-Agriculture. According to theFAO respondent, experiences from the work of the e-Agriculture Community with other
  22. 22. 15stakeholders over the years have shown that there are major policy gaps and disconnects in thearea of e-Agriculture policies at global level. These policy gaps and other reasons might havecontributed to the absence or late adoption of national e-Agricultural policies and strategies. Therespondent believed that attacking the issue from a different angle might better help inaddressing it, and questioned whether focusing on developing and implementing national e-Agriculture policies and strategies would provide a solution. There might, the respondentargued, be several initiatives, strategies or plans at national level that aim at integrating ICTsinto agriculture without necessarily being labeled as e-Agriculture policy or strategy. It mighttherefore be necessary at this time to focus on identifying these existing ICT and agriculturalpolicies at national level and try to piece them together, the respondent concluded.3.1.2 IICDAs an international organisation, the International Institute for Communication and Development(IICD) focuses on implementing programs as well as sector policy advice in developingcountries. In this capacity, IICD has been supporting countries in formulating and implementingboth national ICT policies and sector policies. The perspectives and experiences expressed inthis study therefore cut across sectors such as agriculture, health, education and governance.3.1.2.1 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe study found that IICD has supported countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ugandaand Benin with e-policy development over the years. This was done in collaboration withUNECA and the Canadian e-Policy Resource Centre (CePRC). From past experiences, IICDplaces emphasis on the process rather than developing policy papers. Making the process apriority helps in making an easy transition to implementation. The process involves identifyingthe sectors prioritized by the countries. With cases that IICD has worked on so far in Africa, thehealth, education and governance sectors, in addition to the general communication policies,were in high demand. These activities were undertaken about four years ago (around 2008/09).Within the agricultural sector, there was no outspoken need at the time for e-policy developmentby the countries (West African Regional Manager, IICD).The process continues by involving multiple actors. While identifying actors for the policyformulation, IICD ensures local ownership. The local ownership of the policy has beendetermined as a key factor in the success of the policy process. In addition, the intentions
  23. 23. 16behind the policy development by the government and its partners are made clear to thebeneficiaries from the outset. IICD’s experience also shows that real demand on the side of thegovernment, and the commitment of ministers and deputies, etc. help the process to go beyondformulation, to enforcement of the policy and the development of appropriate strategies forimplementation. The case of Bolivia described later in the report has been one of the successfulexperiences by IICD in supporting e-Agriculture strategy development. Bolivia developed an ICTstrategy for the agriculture sector in 2002, with a focus on small-scale farmers and indigenousgroups.3.1.2.2 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesOur consultation with IICD also confirms the need for national e-Agriculture policies, but thequestion was whether the sector policies should inform the national policy or vice versa.Respondents also believed that the ICT sector policies should be part of the national ICT policyof the country but not a separate policy. This, they argued, will help with the management ofresources – budgeting, human resources, etc. Also, to efficiently manage the limited resourcesat the disposal of these countries, the sector policies should be developed directly from thesectors, when the need for update or review of existing policies becomes necessary.Respondents from IICD also shared their perspectives on the various stages of policydevelopment process. It was argued that, before the implementation stage, it is critical for usersto acknowledge and understand the value of ICTs in facilitating their daily activities rather thanjust having computers in the office. This calls for the need for training and capacity building atthe senior level in order to fully implement the policy. It also calls for the continuous professionaldevelopment of ministry staff, and sufficient resources to maintain equipment for effective use.Another option would be to bring ministers and their deputies together, to provide the rightenvironment for these staff of the same calibre to be comfortable and learn the technology.In Uganda, for example, staff of the ministries are brought together regularly to go throughprofessional training in the use of ICTs (East Africa Regional Manager, IICD).Another experience acknowledged by IICD is that these policies must be forward looking tokeep up with the growth of new technologies, and must be flexible to accommodate futureadaptation and modification. Such sector policies should also aim at giving guidelines, rules andprinciples as to how to use ICTs, but not be too specific with applications and platforms. While
  24. 24. 17IICD believes in the overarching experience of global knowledge exchange, it also values anduses local, country-specific experience, knowing that infrastructure and facilities at national leveldiffer from country to country and even within a country.3.1.3 UNECAThe mandate of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) as a regional bodytranscends a single sector and therefore the views and perspectives expressed here are notlimited to the agricultural sector. Also the perspectives expressed here resulted from ourconsultation with a stakeholder from the ICT, Science and Technology Division of UNECA.3.1.3.1 Experiences with e-StrategiesUNECA’s policy development process was guided by the National Information andCommunication Infrastructure (NICI) framework but also depends on requests from memberstates. While ECA has focused over the years on national ICT policies and plans, nationalgovernments identify key priority areas, usually referred to as pillars, such as infrastructuredevelopment, human resource development, ICT for education, ICT for health, ICT foragriculture, e-government, legal and regulatory issues, content development and e-applicationsfor further development. The e-sectoral policies and strategies therefore get their priority focusduring implementation, if identified as one of the pillars of the policy. Accordingly, severalcountries have moved from policy formulation to implementation and started developing andimplementing e-strategies in sectors such as government services, education, health andagriculture.UNECA’s experience also covers multi-stakeholder consultations involving actors likeparliamentarians, academia, government agencies – ministries and state enterprises - NGOs,private sector, telecom operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), Chambers of Commerceand Industry. Specific roles of each of these stakeholders are utilized during the policydevelopment, implementation and monitoring. For example, the public sector may takeresponsibility for a right legal and regulatory framework, the private sector for investing ininnovative applications and solutions, and international organisations for technical and advisorysupport, and strengthening institutional and human resource capacities.
  25. 25. 18It was identified through some contacts made by CTA that since 2011, UNECA has beenworking with a few countries, such as Mali and Burkina Faso, to develop cyber-strategies foragriculture or rural areas.3.1.3.2 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesGiven that ICT is a crosscutting sector, it is difficult to see the e-sector policies as ‘stand-alone’.As such the e-sector policies and strategies need not be seen as ‘stand-alone’ if they have to besuccessfully implemented (ICT for Development Expert, UNECA).Experiences from UNECA show that the ministry in charge of ICTs currently leads the e-sectorpolicies and strategies with support from the respective sector ministries. The perspective fromUNECA is that the ICT ministry should play a strong leadership role in the development of thesector policies. This perspective, however, differs from some other respondents who see theneed for the agricultural sector to play the leadership role in the development of national e-Agriculture policies or strategies. The expert also argued that these sectoral policies should notstand alone but be components of the national ICT policies, as pointed out by IICD respondents.Table 1 below summaries the key experiences and perspectives of the experts from theinternational organisations consulted during the study.
  26. 26. 19Table 1: Experiences of international organisations with e-Agriculture policies &strategiesInstitution Perspectives and views from expertsconsultedExperiencesFAO i) Sees the need for national e-Agriculture policies.ii) But wonders whether they should belabeled as such.iii) Identify existing specific policiesdealing with ICTs and agriculture andput them together.i) Agriculture sector experience.ii) At the moment, has no record of “national e-Agriculture policy or strategy”.iii) Policy gaps at the global level in e-Agriculture, which might have contributed to thelack of the sectoral policies.IICD i) Sees the need for national e-Agriculture policies.ii) The sector policies should becomponents of the national ICT policy.iii) Build capacity of governmentministers to value the technology.iv) Regular capacity building ofministers is also a key factor toconsider.i) Cross-sectoral experience.ii) Places emphasis on process rather than endproducts.iii) Lack of interest in the agricultural sector fromthe national governments supported four yearsago.iv) Multi-stakeholder involvement was key.v) Policy ownership by the countries drivesimplementation.vi) Local experience is essential to supplementglobal best practices.vii) Experience with Bolivia on developing anICT strategy focused on agricultureUNECA i) Sees the need for e-sector policiesand cyber-strategies on agriculture.ii) But may be difficult to see e-sectorpolicies as stand-alone.iii) ICT ministry should play theleadership role in the sector policydevelopment.i) Cross-sectoral experience.ii) Multi-stakeholder involvement is necessary.iii) Public sector for enabling environment, leadpolicy development, and infrastructuredevelopment.iv) Private sector for investment in innovativeapplications and support infrastructuredevelopment.vi) International organisations for capacitybuilding, and strengthening institutional andhuman resources.v) Another source mentioned that UNECA iscurrently engaged in a few e-Agriculturestrategy developments.
  27. 27. 203.2 National experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe main component of this background report is to understand the current state of national e-Agriculture policies and strategies in ACP countries. This sub-section presents the nationaloverview drawn from selected ACP countries (Rwanda, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Saint Lucia andFiji) and non-ACP countries (Bolivia, India and Bangladesh).3.2.1 RWANDA - Africa3.2.1.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in RwandaThe agricultural sector in Rwanda accounts for more than 90 percent of the labour force andhas been one of the core sectors contributing significantly in the last ten years to the country’seconomy15. According to the Government of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 document, agriculture wasthe major engine of growth representing more than 45 percent of GDP until 2010, andcontributed 37.4 percent to GDP in 201116. The agriculture policy under the Vision 2020document notes the role of Science and Technology, including ICT, as one of the crosscuttingissues and stipulates the need to intensify and transform the sector’s subsistence status into aproductive, high value, market oriented sector, with forward linkages to other sectors.In 2000, the Government of Rwanda (GoR) launched an ICT4D policy designed in four 5-yearphases. The first Phase, NICI I (NICI-2005 Plan) emphasised the creation of an enablingenvironment by establishing an institutional framework for ICT policy, putting in place thenecessary legal and regulatory mechanism for effective implementation and coordination. TheNICI II (NICI-2010 Plan) focused on providing world-class communications infrastructure as abackbone for current and future communications requirements with projects. The third phase(NICI-2015), which focuses on service development and delivery where all institutions will worktogether using the already existing infrastructure was launched in the middle of 2011.Rwanda is poised for e-Agriculture with its success in creating the enabling environment andbuilding the necessary infrastructure. The Rwandans’ e-Soko project is an electronic platformwhich provides farmers, consumers and traders with up-to-date market price information forcommodities, using mobile phones. The project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministryof Agriculture and Animal Resources (MAAR), is a vital economic tool that increases access tomarket information for farmers and consumers, thereby increasing efficiency and preventingprice gouging. Other e-Agriculture initiatives include the Agricultural Management Information
  28. 28. 21System (AMIS), and a land use management and information system, implemented to ensureproper usage, planning and management of land.3.2.1.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesConsultation with MAAR revealed that while the country has well developed national ICT andagriculture policies, it is yet to develop a national e-Agriculture policy. The state of the e-Agriculture policy in the country can therefore be described as being at the ‘formulation’ stage. Itis being led by the MAAR in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders, including the Ministriesof Trade and Industry, Infrastructure, ICTs, Justice, Finance, and Natural Resources, and thePrivate Sector Federation. At this stage, a strategic plan for agricultural transformation is beingdeveloped, with key components on the institutional development of an agricultural knowledgeand management system. The policy will bring together e-Soko and other e-related applicationsand systems already in place, to guide future implementation of ICTs for agriculture in thecountry.The following are some of the key challenges being anticipated in the national e-Agriculturepolicy development process in Rwanda.i) The level of farmers’ knowledge in ICTs: Even though the penetration of mobile phones hashad significant impact on access to information by farmers, it also has limitations due to theinability of some users to access certain types of information. Farmers are yet to have agood level of understanding of most of the ICT applications for agriculture.ii) Lack of user-friendly applications: Most of the applications currently in the market havelimited use with the phones owned by the majority of the farmers. The smart phones andtablets, which have capability of delivering more applications due to their advanced features,are of a higher standard than used by most farmers.iii) The high cost of the applications: While the private sector companies, mobile networkoperators (MNOs), and Value Added Service (VAS) providers are ready to deliver theirservices, the high cost is preventing the effective utilisation by most farmers.iv) Disruptive characteristics of ICTs: It is also becoming more and more difficult to combine theuse of social media without interrupting work. The right policies must be in place to ensureinnovative use of the technologies without affecting productive work by staff.
  29. 29. 223.2.1.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesRwanda has recognised the need for national e-Agriculture policy and strategy, and efforts arein place to ensure its development. According to the contact person, the MAAR is expected tolead the process, with collaboration from other ministries.The need for a national e-Agriculture policy was clearly stated as a key weakness in thecountry’s effort to integrate ICTs into agriculture when approached by the ComprehensiveAfrican Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) (Director General, Planning and Policy,MAAR).Some of the challenges being experienced currently with ICT for agriculture applications in thecountry have been attributed to the lack of e-Agriculture policy or strategy. The inability of policymakers to effectively follow the market trends of agricultural products, lack of up-to-dateinformation to develop and build farming businesses for smallholders, and limited exploitation ofthe potential of mobile technologies may be due to the absence of a national policy guiding theimplementation of the technologies.Based on the national agricultural policy and the current potential of ICTs, some of the areasdeemed fit to be included in the national e-Agriculture policy are;i) Production: Use ICTs in conducting: crop assessments; electronic data collection; monitoringof veterinary services during vaccination; and mapping of activities and in making suchinformation available online for easy access.ii) Risk management: Index-based insurance and other innovative applications will be exploredto mitigate risk associated with erratic weather and natural disasters.iii) Post-harvest and marketing: Post-harvest produce management and related marketingactivities, such as monitoring market prices, dissemination of prices for farmers and traders,and eventually the development of an Agricultural Commodity Exchange.iv) Research and development (R&D): Integration of ICTs within the agricultural researchsystems for researchers to utilise the technologies for innovative research.v) Private sector federation: Public-private partnership will also be a key component of thenational e-Agriculture policy, through the engagement of the private sector federation inRwanda. The existing relationship with partners such as MicroEnsure and Syngenta will behighlighted and strengthened.
  30. 30. 233.2.2 GHANA - Africa3.2.2.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in GhanaAgriculture still dominates Ghana’s economy, contributing about 35 percent to its GDP17. Thegrowth of the sector in the past two decades, with an annual growth of around five percent,positions Ghana to become the first Sub-Saharan African country to achieve the first MillenniumDevelopment Goal (MDG 1) of halving poverty before the target year, 2015. But agriculture inGhana remains highly dependent on rainfall, with less than three percent of total crop areaunder irrigation, and is largely subsistence in nature. Access to modern technologies andtechnical information, and application of proven research, innovations and agronomic practicesare still a challenge. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the Medium TermAgriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP), is currently implementing the Food andAgriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II).Ghana’s ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) Policy, released in 2003, projects thevision for Ghana in the information age and sets out a roadmap for the development of thecountry’s information society and knowledge economy. The policy is aimed at “engineering anICT-led socio-economic development process with the potential to transform Ghana into amiddle income, information-rich, knowledge based, and technology driven economy18.” Thespecific objectives of the policy include, among others, the improvement of agricultural efficiencyand productivity through an ICT-based modernisation of the sector. According to the policystatement, ICT will be utilised to modernise the agricultural sector to substantially improveagricultural value-added products and develop a dynamic and vibrant export-oriented agro-business industry.Ghana has a long history of ICT application within the agricultural innovation system. This datesback to a USAID sponsored project, the Market Information Systems and Traders’Organisations of West Africa (MISTOWA), a unique and exemplary partnership with the privatesector software company BusyLab, to develop a platform - “Tradenet” - which is now calledEsoko. Other e-Agriculture related applications include the Ghana Agricultural InformationNetwork System (GAINS); the Eastern Corridor Agro-Market Information Center (ECAMIC)project; Farmerline; and CocoaLink.
  31. 31. 243.2.2.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesAs noted above, the role of ICTs in Ghana’s agriculture was given prominence in the nationalICT4AD policy document. ICTs are expected to be used to support various activities of theagriculture sector, including:i) Geographic information system (GIS) applications to monitor and support sustainable usageof natural resourcesii) Food insecurity and vulnerability informationiii) Creating ICT awareness for all types of farmersiv) An agriculture information systemv) Market researchvi) Linking farmers and farmers’ groups and associationsvii) Linking agricultural education, research and development, farming, agro-industry andmarketingviii)Improving research competency and promoting the application and transfer of newtechnologiesix) Creation of agricultural export production villagesx) Improving rural infrastructure development and encouraging irrigated farmingxi) Supporting the private sector to add value to traditional crops while strengthening theproduction of non-traditional export commodities (Ghana ICT4AD Policy Document 2003).To ensure the implementation of the above, the “Ghana ICTs in Agriculture ImplementationStrategy” document was developed in 2005, and a draft report on “Implementation Strategy andAction Plans for Modernisation of Agriculture and Development of Agro-Business Industry inGhana” was developed in 2007. This current draft plan of action has the following five targetareas:i) Apply ICTs for development of effective agricultural production systems, such as improvingrural infrastructure, identifying and addressing land ownership and tenure issues, improvingresearch competence to promote the application and transfer of new technologies,strengthening research-extension-farmer linkages, developing new agricultural non-traditional export products, encouraging the production of cash crops such as cashew, andencouraging mechanised and modernised large-scale plantations.ii) Applying ICT to facilitate capacity building in agriculture by strengthening and revitalisingagriculture extension services to farmers, establishing clear forward and backward linkagesbetween agricultural education and research and development, and removing inequalities to
  32. 32. 25enhance women’s access to modern technologies.iii) Use of ICTs to promote processing, preservation and storage of agricultural productsthereby ensuring reduction of pre- and post-harvest losses in agricultural production, andsupporting the private sector to add value to traditional crops such as cocoa.iv) Applying ICTs to develop information systems for increased agricultural productivity throughthe development and application of GIS, developing food insecurity and vulnerabilityinformation mapping systems, linking farmers and farmers’ groups to required resources andservices, and delivering real-time information to users.v) Use of ICTs to develop effective marketing mechanisms for agricultural products toencourage market research, promote the creation of agriculture export production villages(EPVs), facilitate the commercialisation of the key sub-sectors of the agricultural sector andindustry to improve their competitiveness in external markets, and strengthen the productionof non-traditional export commodities to enhance the foreign exchange earnings of thecountry.3.2.2.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesAttempts to speak to some key stakeholders (including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, andthe Ministry of Communication) to have details and perspectives on the draft document were notvery successful during the timeframe of the study. But the efforts made far back in 2005 todevelop such a strategy attest to the importance attached to e-Agriculture policy in Ghana’sagricultural development agenda.3.2.3 IVORY COAST - Africa3.2.3.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Ivory CoastAgriculture is the backbone of Ivory Coast’s economy, employing about 68 percent of the labourforce, and accounting for 28 percent of GDP, and 70 per cent of export earnings19. After thepost-election crisis in 2010, the country remains fragile and unstable. In spite of this, recentstudies show that for at least the next 15 years, the agricultural sector will remain the engine ofthe economy. For example, cocoa reached its highest production ever with a record crop of 1.5million tons, with rubber production rising to 230,000 tons, and palm oil production to 350,000tons in 2011. However, Ivory Coast currently produces insufficient food to meet its domesticneeds, due to low productivity, high cost of inputs, considerable post-harvest losses, inadequateuse of modern farming techniques, and the ageing of coffee, cocoa and oil palm plantations.
  33. 33. 26These shortfalls of the agricultural sector and the potential of the new ICTs have led to thecommitment of the government to develop a modern and competitive agriculture by 2020. Theintegration of ICTs into the agricultural sector is expected to be based on the NationalInformation and Communication Infrastructure (NICI) Plan, which was adopted in 2000 with theinvolvement of national experts from the government, civil society, private sector, professionalorganisations, and research and training institutions20. Focus areas identified by the plan includeagriculture and natural resources. But just as in other countries, coverage of agriculture in theplan is limited. The government is therefore putting in place programs of capacity building thatwill allow users to benefit in the implementation of projects to modernise the agricultural sectorthrough ICTs. The government believes that ICTs are essential tools to revitalise the agriculturalsector that has suffered from the lack of private sector investment and poor quality ofgovernance over the years.Access to information within the agricultural sector in Ivory Coast has been the mandate of theNational Agricultural Documentation Network (REDACI). The collection and dissemination ofagricultural information has been done traditionally by REDACI, which plays the role ofdepository of agricultural knowledge and references. In addition, the growth of the internet andmobile technologies has led to various experimentations in using ICTs to increase access toagricultural information. The National Association of Agricultural Producer Organisations of IvoryCoast (ANOPACI) started using the Tradenet (now Esoko) mobile-based agricultural marketinformation exchange for individuals and businesses for distribution of market information. Otherapplications include Frontline SMS (text messaging system, both inbound and outbound) forsharing information on the world market for the cashew value chain, and Manobi (a marketinformation system with related agriculture information services).3.2.3.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesWith the on-going reconstruction processes taking place across the country, a national strategydocument for e-Agriculture was recently initiated through the collaboration between the Ministryof Post, Information Technology and Communication, and the Ministry of Agriculture. InNovember 2012, a three-day workshop was convened that brought together over 150 expertsfrom a number of sectors to validate the National Strategy Document for e.Agriculture.Recommendations that emerged from the workshop include cheaper access to the internet and
  34. 34. 27ICT equipment, improving Ivory Coast’s National Agricultural Documentation Network(REDACI), improving services for documentation of information in the Ministry of Agriculture, abetter legal framework, and a strong commitment from the State to provide financial resourcesfor the implementation of the document. The National Strategy Document for e.Agriculture isexpected to provide an agricultural information system that takes into account the real timeinformation of all actors. It will put in place tools to improve distribution of food products,information platforms for scientific research stakeholders, systems of monitoring soil,geographic information systems, and an internet portal of the agricultural world. It comprisesplanning components for the implementation of an agricultural information system and theestablishment of mechanisms for strengthening capabilities of users.The new document is currently with the Council of State for approval and implementation. Thenational strategy document has a three-year duration and seven strategic directions, namely;i) Infrastructure and equipmentii) Agricultural Market Information System (SIMA)iii) Agricultural Information System (SIA)iv) Services and Applicationsv) Capacity Buildingvi) Legal Strategyvii) Communication Strategy of the agricultural sector.This progress in Ivory Coast shows the country’s realisation of the need for, and preparednessto develop and implement, a national e-Agriculture strategy for the growth of the sector.3.2.3.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThere was no successful consultation with stakeholders from Ivory Coast but the governmenthas the ambition of transforming the country within a decade into an economy that is based onknowledge through a solid and sustainable deployment of ICTs. It is believed that ICTpermeates every sector of the economy, including agriculture, industry and services. Thegovernment therefore intends to take advantage of its relatively strong, dynamic and intelligentyouth and make ICT a tool that contributes to economic development, beyond the traditionalaspect of communication to trade, train, purchase and sell. In order to extend ICT solutions toremote populations that might not be profitable enough for private operators, a national
  35. 35. 28telecommunication fund was set up ten years ago through a two percent tax contribution from alltelecom operators.3.2.4 SAINT LUCIA - Caribbean3.2.4.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in Saint LuciaThe agricultural sector plays a major role in the country’s economy, accounting for a significantnumber of jobs, some 21 percent of employment, and contributing five to eight percent of theGDP21. The primary commodity is banana, with other products of economic importance beingcocoa, coconut, citrus fruits and livestock. The production of bananas continues to fluctuate as aresult of climatic conditions and plant disease. Other challenges to food, agriculture and naturalresources management in St. Lucia include ways to transform risk averse, resource-deficientfarmers into efficient and competitive entrepreneurs; attracting young and appropriately skilledtechnical and professional labour in the production and marketing of goods and services;declining preferences in the traditional markets; and an increasing competition from an ever-widening array of countries in the major export markets of Europe and the Americas.Considering the above challenges, a national drive is underway to build a diversified agriculturalsector, with several initiatives to provide greater support to farmers and other workers in thesector.The National ICT Strategy (2010-2015) of St. Lucia outlines a plan of action to harness the skillsand creativity of its people through the potential of the new ICTs, to enable sustainable socialand economic development and to support the country’s national development agenda. Theplan is multi-sectoral and focuses on ways in which technology can be used for thedevelopment and well-being of each sector.Currently, GIS systems are being utilised for land planning and these systems are also beingenhanced in collaboration with utility and service providers. An Agricultural Information Systemcalled SLARIS is currently being used by the Ministry to collect and provide statistical data.Plans exist to extend the capabilities of SLARIS to include more modules and more robustreporting capabilities to support decision-making and policy formulation. The informationprovided by the system will assist farmers to be more consistent with their production methodsand techniques. Better information and record keeping will also allow St. Lucia to meet theexport requirements of international markets, further boosting of its export capabilities22.
  36. 36. 293.2.4.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe consultation on the subject in Saint Lucia took a regional approach since the contact personfound it easier to talk about the Caribbean region instead of one country. According to therespondent, Saint Lucia’s experience may be able to represent the region since none of thecountries have made any significant progress in the development of a national e-Agriculturepolicy. As discovered in Saint Lucia, most of the islands have agriculture as a core sector fortheir economic development. With support from CTA, the International Development ResearchCentre (IDRC) in Canada, and other regional bodies, ICTs have been part of the agriculturalsector for some years now. At the same time, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and theUnited Nations ICT Task Force also created the Digital Diaspora Network for the Caribbean(DDN-C) as the culmination of the “Meeting on Bridging the Digital Divide for the Caribbean”.The DDN-C proposed the creation of an ICT Steering Committee for the region and a 10-component action plan, including an ICT policy framework for the Caribbean, and developingagriculture with information23. Also a 2010 draft of the Regional Information and CommunicationTechnology (ICT) for Development Strategy for the region, more or less referred to as theRegional Digital Development Strategy (RDDS), acknowledges the agricultural sector as one ofthe key sectors for integrating ICTs for the development of the region24.The national ICT strategy of Saint Lucia acknowledges the critical role information could play inreviving the agricultural sector. The agricultural component within the national ICT strategyrequires the use of ICTs to enable effective and efficient supply chain management (fromproduction to sales and marketing) and thereby promote the economic viability andsustainability of agriculture related activities. A robust and integrated Agricultural InformationSystem to promote diversification, better farm management and expanded export capabilities isexpected to be the bedrock of the strategy. The Agricultural Information and IntegrationProgram, involves greater access to information by the St. Lucian community to facilitatesustainable development of the agricultural sector and to improve information flow amongagricultural agencies, supply chain partners and other stakeholders.The St. Lucia Agricultural Resource Information System (SLARIS), which was established toservice the agricultural industry, will be strengthened through the following programs:i) Forest Management Information System (FMIS) that supports the planning, implementation
  37. 37. 30and monitoring of multi-objective forest management activities.ii) Production and Marketing Information System (PMIS) to collect prices of food crops,livestock and livestock products, that would assist public officials with the monitoring of dataof the country’s main food crops.iii) Livestock and Crops Quarantine Information System (LCQIS) to provide timely and accurateinformation through the monitoring and surveillance of livestock and crops to address theproblems of weeds in crops and insects in animals.iv) Fisheries Information Management System (FIMS) to enable data collection and analysisnecessary for creation of information to support management of fisheries.v) Pest and Disease Surveillance Information System (PDSIS) to ensure monitoring of pests,diseases and invasive species through surveillance, insecticide resistance management andeducational outreach.vi) Water Resource Management Information System (WRMIS), web-enabled GIS applicationsthat allow users to access, integrate, query, and visualise multiple sets of data for waterresources information.vii) Bio-diversity Clearing-House to contribute to the implementation of the Convention onBiological Diversity through the promotion and facilitation of technical and scientificcooperation.viii)Crop Production Monitoring and Market Research (CPMMR) to facilitate data collection andanalysis for monitoring of production levels and farming techniques for producers to managetheir land and crop production more precisely.ix) Crop Import License System (CILS) to enable the import and transit of agricultural productsto guard against the spread of damaging pests and diseases.x) Training and Development Project to support training of all participants, within and externalto the public sector, to strengthen the information management capabilities of the centralministry and other agencies and organisations.3.2.4.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesThe view from the respondent is that, even though taking a national approach to e-Agriculturepolicy development in the region will be appropriate, it will be more suitable to take a regionalapproach, based on the existing, regionally focused approach to policy development. In otherwords, any support for e-Agriculture policy development should take a regional approach andthen inform the subsequent national policy development in each of the islands.
  38. 38. 313.2.5 FIJI - Pacific3.2.5.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in FijiAgriculture is the mainstay of Fiji’s economy, contributing around 28 percent to totalemployment in the formal sector, and directly and indirectly employs around 65 percent of thetotal population25. In 2010, the sector contributed 8.2 percent of the nation’s GDP, with sugarand subsistence farming dominating the sector’s contribution. Other major contributors toexports in agriculture are fruits and vegetables, including taro, ginger, cassava and papaya.Growth in the sector, however, has been variable. Key among the challenges includes the lackof agricultural information being disseminated to needy farmers, and the reluctance of small-scale farmers to commercialize production. Consequently, agricultural focus has now shiftedtowards diversifying into high-value cash crops for the domestic and export market, according tothe Agriculture Strategic Development Plan 2010 – 2012.The telecommunications system and its broadband capability in Fiji appear to be by far the bestin the Pacific Islands. Over 90 percent of households are estimated to have a radio and overhalf the population has access to television. Mobile penetration is high with Vodafone, theleading mobile company, having over 90 percent coverage, while Digicel has over 70 percentcoverage26. The traditional electronic media of radio and television still have greater than 80percent coverage across the islands. The use of the internet is also increasing, with more andmore citizens accessing the net through their mobile phones. The Fiji Information TechnologyPolicy (2001-2011) has a vision of harnessing the country’s ideal geographic location,competent workforce and world-class information technology infrastructure to promote itsinternational competitiveness and create a dynamic, vibrant and well-connected e-society27. Thedocument clearly identifies three key functionalities, namely e-Government, e-Business, and e-Community.In terms of e-Agriculture applications in Fiji, the Land Resources Division (LRD) of theSecretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the United Nations Conferenceon Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is implementing a Market Information System (MIS) withthe Ministry of Primary Industries to improve the provision of quality market information tostakeholders. Also, Digicel Fiji recently announced a partnership with F1 Mobile Solutions tocreate a mobile-based buy and sell platform called “Fiji Makete.” The application uses
  39. 39. 32unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) technology to send information between amobile phone and an application on the network28.3.2.5.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesAttempts were made to consult with stakeholders from Fiji with no success. Also, analysis of theNational IT Policy of Fiji shows that it has no mention of the agricultural sector. However, one ofthe goals of the 2011 National Broadband Policy for Fiji is the development of lead applicationsin agriculture and fisheries to assist in efficient production, marketing and logistics associatedwith the primary industries including agriculture29.3.2.5.3 Perspectives on e-Agriculture policies & strategiesNo specific view was gathered on the subject from Fiji but consultation within the regionalcontext shows the need for e-Agriculture policy or strategy at regional level, taking intoconsideration the existing regional strategies.3.2.6 INDIA - Asia3.2.6.1 Overview of e-Agriculture in IndiaAgriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy with about 65 percent of the populationdepending directly on agriculture, which accounts for around 22 percent of GDP30. Indianagriculture is characterised by small and marginal operational holdings. About 85 percent oftotal cultivated land is fragmented into plots of less than 10-hectares. Some of the challengesbeing faced by Indian agriculture include extensive pressure on land due to urbanisation,frequent failure and uneven distribution of rains, depletion of ground water due to over-exploitation, declining nutrient status of soil and soil health due to intensive cultivation,inadequate infrastructure, inadequate market support, weak linkages between farmers and R&Dinstitutions, inadequate post-harvest infrastructure, processing facilities, research and extensionsupport, paucity of resources for large investments with long gestation periods, ineffective pre-harvest and post-harvest supply chain models, and inadequate ICT diffusion and infusion31.These challenges are more than enough to trigger actions to explore ways of supportingsmallholder farmers across the country to improve their lives through quality agriculturalproduction.
  40. 40. 33The growth of the ICT sector in India has been very significant in the past decade, buildingenormous confidence for itself in global markets. The country has emerged as one of the fastestgrowing telecom markets in the world, with the second largest wireless network after China. Thetotal number of telephone subscribers in India has reached 944.81 million, with the total wirelesssubscriber base standing at 913.49 million, and overall teledensity reaching 77.79 percent bythe end of July 201232. A recent National Policy on Information Technology 2012, approved bythe Cabinet, identifies the promotion of innovation and R&D in cutting edge technologies, andthe development of applications and solutions as critical. Some of the areas to be consideredare location based services, mobile value added services, cloud computing, social media andutility models.India has been one of the leading countries in articulating ways by which ICTs can supportagriculture and rural development. This could be due to the success achieved in the field ofinformation technology over the past decades and the principal role agriculture plays in thecountry’s economy. However, the majority of smallholder farmers in Indian still suffer from lackof timely access to agricultural information for production and marketing. Notwithstanding, manyICT-based applications and platforms for agriculture such as Reuters Market Light (RML),IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Co-operative Limited), Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL), Lifelines,Digital Green, e-Sagu, eArik, eKrishi, and aAqua (Almost All Questions Answered) haveemerged from India. Mobile applications, successful public-private partnership models, potentbusiness approaches, applications addressing the needs of social groups such as women andyouth, and specific applications for irrigation, weather, etc. are some of the examples ofprogress made so far.3.2.6.2 Experiences with e-Agriculture policies & strategiesConsultations with stakeholders from India show that the country is yet to develop a nationalstrategy to guide the implementation of ICT for agriculture projects and programs. In theabsence of an official policy guiding the implementation of ICTs for agriculture, the Governmentof India (GoI) has taken steps to provide the basic infrastructure in rural areas by ensuring thatall telecommunications network providers site their towers also in rural areas to achieveuniversal coverage of mobile network. Secondly, a policy framework that ensures high speedinternet connectivity in rural areas is also in place. In achieving this, public-private partnershiphas been emphasized in the past few years with various models being used for the application

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