ICT Observatory on E-Agriculture Strategies in ACPCountriesFarmer issues and needsBy Stella Kamuyu24th to 26th April 2013Wageningen, the NetherlandsVisionProsperousandcohesiveEasternAfricafarmerscommunity”Mission“Represent, lobby andadvocate forfarmersinterests andbuild theircapacities.”EASTERNAFRICAFARMERSFEDERATION(EAFF)
The Eastern African Farmers Federation (EAFF), was formed in2001, it is a non-political, non-profit and democraticorganisation, whose role is to voice the concerns andinterests of farmers of the region to enhance their social-economic status and regional cohesiveness. EAFF’sMembership is from National Farmer organisations fromKenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, DRCongo, Burundi, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia and South Sudan.EAFF membership is now composed of 22 farmerorganisations serving about 20 million farmers. The new Strategic Plan(2012-2020) is organized around fourstrategic goals:◦ a dynamic regional platform for advocacy and policydevelopment, implementation and accountability:◦ functional and effective knowledge hub for farmerdevelopment:◦ strengthening farmers as key actors in the value chains;◦ A vibrant, self-sustained, effective and efficientorganization.
ICTs in Agriculture ICTs have become increasingly integrated into thedissemination of information to farmers. Traditional forms ofICTs have become more prevalent in advisory serviceprovision. Radio and TV programmes feature agricultural information.Rural telecentres provide information oneducation, agricultural and health issues and equip ruralcitizens with skills on how to use computers and providebasic literacy. Mobile phone services are improving agricultural yield andprofits by providing farmers with advice on crops, weatherand market prices. There are however some challenges –e.g infrastructure forinternet connectivity and accessibility, cost of informationdissemination and access, capacity building etc..,
Farmers Issues and needs ChallengesFARMERS ISSUES AND NEEDS CHALLENGES•COOCENKI, a Farmers’ organizationin DR Congo with a membership of25 co-op organizations.• are providing capacity building forfarmers on the use of internet, andcomputers through trainings.• Using mobile phone SMS to sourceinformation.•Advocate with telephone networkcompanies to install antennas inrural areas.•Strengthening literacy and adulteducation.• Advocating for Cyber Cafés inrural areas.•have been using amarket information system foragricultural producers for the last 2years.-Difficult to access internet due tolong distances between rural andurban areas.- Lack of telephone networks andinternet sites.- Farmers are economically poorthus difficult to access informationtechnologies.- No mastery of the use andexploitation of the internet phoneoptions.- No mastery in the use ofcomputers - Illiteracy of farmers.- Poor access / lack of electricityin rural areas.- No mechanism to enableautomatically disseminate themarket related information tofarmers at grassroots level.
FARMERS ISSUES AND NEEDS CHALLENGES•Kenya National Farmers AgriculturalProducer(KENFAP) umbrella farmers’federation representing 1.8 millionfarm families and the legitimatefarmers’ voice in Kenya.• is negotiating with Mobile phonetechnology firms to establish aplatform for sharing extensionmessages with farmers by use of SMS.•Have a website and are in the processof establishing an E-Library.•They have videos on YouTube.•Have a facebook page.• In the last two years the federationhas been offering extension servicesthrough radio programmes on aweekly basis on local or vernacularstation.•Publishes it positions and topicalmatters on print media• Members lack internetconnectivity.• Lack of smart phones toaccess internet.•The regional informationcenters of KENFAP are notadequately equipped to offerservices to the members.•Capacity gap on the use of ICTand social media.•Lack of interest and negativeattitude towards ICT, theperception that ICTs are used inoffices, cost of investing in ICTis strenuous and expensive.
FARMERS ISSUES AND NEEDS CHALLENGESAgricultural Council of Tanzania(ACT) has a membership of 75members which includesassociations, networks of farmers,livestock keepers, traders etc.•Communicates to their membersthrough their website, emails,telephone and e-newsletters,•Does not communicatethrough telecenters because thecenters are very few.•Limited number of telecenters inthe country.•Restricted access to digitaltechnology•Insufficient digital content inKiswahili and local language.•Inadequate infrastructures andsupport services (electricity andconnectivity)•Unreliable and un-updatedtechnologyLack of skills/knowledge on theuse of ICTs.•Lack of financial resources tosecure the use of ICTs.
FARMERS ISSUES AND NEEDS CHALLENGESUganda National FarmersFederation (UNFFE) is a nationalFarmer organization for farmers inUganda with 68 memberorganization/farmer groups.•Communicates to their membersthrough their website, emails,mobile phone and newsletters,local and National Radio programsand during the NationalAgricultural Show.•Also Print Media.•The best way to get information tothe farmers has been by mobilephones and using local radiostations.Even when emails are sent to thefarmers, one has to call thembecause most of them have to goto town to access internet (at acost).Other challenges:a) Low coverage of internetfacilities among their members.b) Most rural towns have noelectricity.c) Accessing internet is costlybecause most of them have toincur transport costs to go totowns, even then the cost of usingit is high.d) Its expensive to sendinformation (have to call eachmember)
ICT Farmer issues, needs and challenges are similar in the EAFFRegion. Currently, most farmers’ information is provided byextension workers, through libraries, telecenters, websites andby use of smart phones. The number of extension workers hasbeen going down while that of farmers has been growing, hencethe need for innovative information systems to address this gap.E.g by development of National Farmers Information Service. Though there is increased adoption of smart phones, featurephones are still the most common and dominant among farmers. There is poor infrastructure for access to internet and also luckof sufficient electrify in the rural areas. Though telecentres in the region present significantopportunities their use is hampered by various challenges onsustainability, donor dependency and poor quality connectivityand not easily accessible to the farmer. Need to generating content to put in their websites; developingdatabases
EAFF has an MOU with EAGC –(Eastern Africa Grain Council) anNGO, which prepares, disseminates, and promotes the exchange ofinformation on matters affecting the regional grain industry.http://www.eagc.org EAGC has an initiative- Regional Agricultural Trade IntelligenceNetwork (RATIN) – www.ratin.net for disseminating agriculturalmarket information. RATIN is supported by USAID and other development partners - ispresent in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.Information on Markets, Warehouses, Cross Border trade, SMSsubscription and Trade linkages. Focal points in each of these countries send market information toRATIN and RATIN to Farmers at the local rate of that country. Theinitiative is fairly new and is not yet well known. The MOU willenable EAFF to access their MIS system and our members will benefitfrom this initiative. EAFF is also working on building a knowledge hub as stipulated inthe strategic plan and in so doing EAFF wants to invest in ICT in themost innovative ways . e.g. EAFF staff is already trained on web 2.0and are developing a web 2 tools strategy; EAFF has also had initial dialogues with oracle to develop an MISsystem in collaboration with a mobile company. Its important that the capacity of EAFF is strengthened to play a keyrole as a knowledge broker on behalf of farmers of the region