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Summary of findings - e-agriculture strategies in the ACP

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  • 1. The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)Background Reportone-Agriculture Policies and Strategies in ACP CountriesIn preparation of the 2013 ICT ObservatoryEXECUTIVE SUMMARYThis background report reviews the general state of e-Agriculture policies andstrategiesiin selected ACP and non-ACP countries. It is a desk research that hasbeen developed in preparation for the 2013 ICT Observatory meeting and only aimsat providing a quick overview on the issue. The nature of the research and the limitedtimeframe did not allow for a detailed analysis on the status e-Agriculture strategyprocesses in the selected countries.The report identifies some of the key challenges, target orientations, and key areas ofsupport for national e-Agriculture policies or strategies development as reported bythe various stakeholders. Consultations with stakeholders took place betweenOctober and December 2012 mainly through Skype and phone calls, andsupplemented with email interviews and analysis of policy documents. Below is abrief summary of the findings and recommendations (detailed findings andrecommendations 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 showthat there are initiatives (at various stages) in a few countries to develop suchstrategies or policies. However, the consultation reveals that in most ACPcountries, there were no interests or understanding of the need for e-Agriculture
  • 2. strategies or policies even though the importance of ICT in agriculture isgenerally recognized. Reports from some UN organisations such as ITU andUNECA recognize few progress have been made on e-Agriculture strategies,whereas e-strategies on other sectors such as governance and health do exist.Below is the state of national e-Agriculture strategies or policies from countriesexamined: Ghana (Africa): The Ghana ICTs in Agriculture Implementation Strategy wasdeveloped in 2005, certainly as a follow-up to ICT provisions in the 2003 NationalICT for Accelerated Development Policy document, and a draft report onImplementation Strategy and Action Plans for Modernisation of Agriculture andDevelopment of Agro-Business Industry in Ghana was released in 2007 forreview and implementation. It was not clear during the study whether the planhas actually been implemented and evaluated. Ivory Coast (Africa): A recent development in Ivory Coast shows a joint effort bythe Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Post, Information Technology andCommunication to develop a national e-Agriculture policy. According to a pressrelease on the ministries website, a national strategy document for “e.Agriculture”has been developed and is currently with the Council of State for approval. Rwanda (Africa): Consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and AnimalResources (MAAR) in Rwanda revealed current efforts in formulating a nationalstrategy to integrate ICTs into agriculture and natural resource managementprograms across the country. It is being described as a “Strategic Plan forAgricultural Transformation” with key component on institutional development ofan agricultural knowledge and management system. Mali and Burkina Faso: Through contacts made by CTA, it appears that UNECAhas been collaborating with these two countries to develop a cyber-strategy foragriculture or rural development in 2011 (Note: Mali and Burkina Faso were notpart of the countries selected for the study). Saint Lucia (Caribbean): In Saint Lucia, there is no evidence of efforts todevelop a national e-Agriculture policy or strategy. However, the study found thatthe country’s national ICT policy document has recognised the role of ICTs in thedevelopment of the agricultural sector, which is one of the pillars of its economy.The St. Lucia’s Agricultural Resource Information System (SLARIS) therefore hasspecific target areas for integration of ICTs into agriculture and ruraldevelopment. Fiji (Pacific): No evidence was found in Fiji about the existence of a national e-
  • 3. Agriculture policy or strategy. Analysis of the National IT Policy of Fiji shows nomention of the agricultural sector. However, one of the goals of the 2011 NationalBroadband Policy for the island is to develop lead applications in agriculture andfisheries to assist in efficient production, marketing and logistics associated withthe primary industries including agriculture. India (Asia): In India while it has not been specifically described as a national e-Agriculture policy; there are efforts to create awareness about the need todevelop a “National Agricultural Informatics Framework”. Also, the country has anational ICT policy within which agriculture is a key component; moreover, in thenational agriculture policy, the role of ICTs for extension and dissemination ofagricultural information is well recognised. Bangladesh (Asia): Not much progress has been made in developing a nationale-Agriculture policy and a recent initiative between the private and public sectorsto develop a policy guideline for public-private interaction in the area ofagriculture information dissemination has been stalled due to political changes.The proposed national ICT policy of the country, however, recognised theimportance of ICTs in agriculture and has devoted a comprehensive portion of itto the agricultural sector. Also with the “Digital Bangladesh” agenda by thecurrent government, there is the hope for such initiative in the future. Bolivia (Latin America): In addition to the above selected countries, the studyfound that in Bolivia an “ICT Strategy for the Agriculture Sector” was developedwith support from IICD in 2002. But the current status of this document could notbe identified.B) Issues and challenges: Below are some general experiences shared bystakeholders that can inform future initiatives aimed at supporting ACP countriesin developing national e-Agriculture policies or strategies. Policy ownership: Experiences in ICT policy and other sectoral policydevelopment show that national ownership is critical in the entire process. Theinvolvement of international organizations, if needed, should be limited, toawareness creation, technical and financial support. Multi-stakeholder partnership: The study found that multi-stakeholderpartnership involving the public sector, the private sector, civil society andinternational organisations is needed for a successful policy development,implementation, and monitoring. With respect to the national e-Agriculturepolicies or strategies, a strong collaboration between the two key ministries – the
  • 4. Ministry in charge of Agriculture and the one in charge of ICTs is critical at thenational level. A good collaboration between ICT-focused and agriculture-focusedinternational organisations (ITU, UNECA, FAO, CTA, IICD, etc.) is also neededon this issue. Other challenges recalled by the stakeholders include the general lack ofinterest or understanding in e-Agriculture policies or strategies by manystakeholders at the national level; the sheer lack of understanding of the role andpotential of ICTs in agriculture even at the senior official level; issues withinstitutional and political structures; regulatory changes in the absence of formalpolicies; poor collaboration between Ministries in charge of ICTs and agriculture;among others. Other implementation challenges mentioned by the respondentsinclude power non-availability; poor ICT infrastructure; low ICT literacy; lack ofrelevant content; non-integration of services; non-availability of advisory services;issues of localisation of ICTs; and resource mobilisation.C) Orientations and target areas: Respondents also identified some key targetareas expected to be covered in their national e-Agriculture policies. Theseinclude local content, weather services, farm health management informatics,infrastructure and equipment, universal access, training and capacity building,postharvest management, forest management, general production system,marketing and market research, commodity specific focus such as livestock,crops fisheries, etc., water resource management, R&D, and risk management.D) Expected areas of support: Among the few areas identified for support iscapacity building for national actors in the entire policy development process.While some of the international organizations argued that the financial costshould not be too much to exceed the capacity of the national governments,national stakeholders did ask for support in terms of budget in the policydevelopment, 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. Include discussion of the conclusion of this report and of the ICTObservatory meeting in the WSIS forum in May 2013: It has beenacknowledged during the consultation that the issue of national e-Agriculture
  • 5. policies and strategies transcends the boundaries of ACP countries. Since theconcept of e-sector policies emerged out of WSIS 2003-2005, a first target forCTA could be to present the outcomes of this study and the stakeholderconsultation 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 abroader survey study (this can include a formal survey covering most ACPcountries), and a more detailed analysis of on-going processes in a few countriesbe undertaken. Create a global level task force and national level committees: It isrecommended that a global level task force and national level committees becreated, in collaboration with other regional bodies within the ACP andinternational institutions with interest in the sector. These new global and nationalbodies shall consist of a network of policy experts from the agricultural and ICTsectors 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 aliving and interactive database with various components of e-policy, to enablecountries to explore options based on their specific situation. Lessons and bestpractices from other sectors such as health, education and governance shall beutilised to understand the models, approaches, successes and failures, etc. inthese sectors, to prevent repetition of the same mistakes. Awareness creation and monitoring of the policy process at national level:Campaigning and awareness creation should be undertaken by relevant actors tosensitise stakeholders about the importance of e-Agriculture policies. In theprocess, more emphasis shall be directed at implementation and M&E stagesand senior government officials shall be involved from the outset, to ensure ahigh level of political endorsement and a pledge for future implementation of thepolicies. Ensure local leadership in the entire process: CTA and allied institutions maybe responsible for raising awareness and providing guidance, but acting uponthese recommendations may rest on the national governments. In doing so,national governments may be encouraged to allocate the responsibility for e-Agriculture policy or strategy development to a specific directorate, such as theMinistry of Agriculture, and then be guided by the national e-Agriculture policycommittee.
  • 6.  Factor in the why, which, how, and what questions of e-Agriculture: Thesuccess of the national e-Agriculture policies or strategies program in ACPcountries will depend on the demand for ICTs by actors within the agriculturalvalue chain. This is very high at the moment across the regions. Therefore insupporting ACP countries in e-Agriculture policy or strategy development, CTAshall ensure the policies aim at addressing: why the stakeholders should useICTs; what kind of ICTs should be recommended for use; where should ICTs beapplied within the agricultural sector; and how should the ICTs be applied foragriculture and rural development in these countries?iThe research aimed to identify the existence of e-agriculture strategy or policydocuments or processes, irrespective of the difference between the two terms“policy” and “strategy”. This is the reason why either of the term is used in the report.