ICTs towards resilient food and agricultural systems: Asian experiences and perspectives


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Presentation by Sahdev Singh (Naresuan University) to WITFOR 2009 Agriculture Commission. (www.witfor.org)

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ICTs towards resilient food and agricultural systems: Asian experiences and perspectives

  1. 1. ICTs towards resilient food and agricultural systems: Asian experiences and perspectives By Sahdev Singh, PhD Managing Director Alternatives International Naresuan University Bangkok, Thailand Before
  2. 2. <ul><li>Background in brief </li></ul><ul><li>ICT and Farmers in Asia-Pacific: Some Empirical Evidence </li></ul><ul><li>3 Short Stories: Thailand, India and South Korea </li></ul><ul><li>Concluding Remarks </li></ul>Outline of Presentation
  3. 3. Information Needs of Farmers in a Knowledge-based Society <ul><li>Cultural Practices (knowledge and technology) </li></ul><ul><li>Local and Regional Markets (historical and real time) </li></ul><ul><li>Weather Conditions and Forecasts (real time) </li></ul><ul><li>Soil Fertility and Moisture (historical and real time) </li></ul><ul><li>Decision-making Tools for Management </li></ul>Researchers ↔ Farmers ↔ Markets
  4. 4. Communication Issues in Agriculture Sector <ul><li>Public Funding for Technology Transfer </li></ul><ul><li>Effectiveness of Traditional Extension Systems </li></ul><ul><li>Information Dynamics (Rate of Change) </li></ul><ul><li>Farmer Education </li></ul><ul><li>Rural Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Inadequate Use of new ICTs in Agriculture </li></ul>
  5. 5. South Asia Pakistan India Sri Lanka Nepal Bangladesh Malaysia Philippines Thailand Vietnam Chinese Taipei Republic of Korea Japan South East Asia Australia The Pacific Papua New Guinea Fiji Samoa New Caledonia Middle East Iran Diverse Asia-Pacific sub-regions served by APARIS present unique challenges and opportunities for knowledge sharing
  6. 6. Thailand in the Region: ICT in Agriculture
  7. 7. ICT Policy Framework <ul><li>ICT Policy Statements 1998, 2000, 2006, 2010, and 2020 </li></ul><ul><li>e-Government </li></ul><ul><li>e-Commerce </li></ul><ul><li>e-Industry </li></ul><ul><li>e-Education, and </li></ul><ul><li>e-Society </li></ul><ul><li>Focus Areas: </li></ul><ul><li>Infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>Social Objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of Life </li></ul><ul><li>Human Capacity </li></ul><ul><li>Telecenters </li></ul><ul><li>Thailand as IT hub for ASEAN </li></ul>Bottom line: most local experts agree that policy implementation has been weak.
  8. 8. ICT Indicators in Thailand <ul><li>Based on the most recent estimates by NECTEC, the ICT usage by 64 million human population of the country is as follows: </li></ul><ul><li>TV sets: 27.4 per 100 population (17.8 million)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Computers: 7.7 per 100 population (5 million)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Cellular phones: 46.2 per 100 population (30 million)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Telephone lines: 10.1 per 100 population (6.6 million)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Internet users: 12.3 per 100 population (8 million)‏ </li></ul>PPP: low-cost PC project, launched in 2003
  9. 9. ICT in Thai Agriculture <ul><li>Under policy guidance from Ministry of ICT and technical inputs from NECTEC, the Department of Agriculture (DOA), Hydro and Agro-Informatics Institute (HAII), and Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC) have initiated ICT projects targeted at knowledge empowerment of small-scale farmers and rural communities. </li></ul><ul><li>While physical infrastructure seems adequate, human capacity development in extension agencies and user communities and suitable content/services are major bottlenecks for ICT adoption in rural areas, requiring greater investment on this aspect. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Department of Agriculture (DOA) Under Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives (MOAC)‏ <ul><li>DOA Information Services Center (DISC)‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Web site for farmers and extension agents (GAP+)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>e-Library and Journals </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII)‏ <ul><li>R&D Unit under NECTEC (Min. of S&T)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Foci: Water Resources Management and Agriculture </li></ul><ul><li>Promoting “Village that Learns” </li></ul><ul><li>Provides portal service to various information resources </li></ul><ul><li>Currently two main projects: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agricultural Information Network (AIN)‏ </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Integrated Water resources Management Project ( www.thaiwater.net )‏ <ul><li>Real-time information on water levels and weather </li></ul><ul><li>Internet GIS Applications for Water Resources Management (flood & drought)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Technology Components (mostly open source)‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Data Warehousing, web server, www applications, Internet GIS, weather modeling, Internet-based field servers, and SVG </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Partnership with: TRF, Suksapattana Foundation, Chaipattana Foundation, RID, EGAT, Meteorological Department, Ministry of ICT, BMA, Deaprtment of Water Resources, MOAC, and Kasetsart University </li></ul>
  13. 13. AIN: Agricultural Information Network ( www.thaiag.net )‏ <ul><li>Technical information on 23 economically important crops </li></ul><ul><li>Village that Learns : community-based approach to agricultural development and management using Internet </li></ul>
  14. 14. Partnership Model for AIN
  15. 15. Information Sources for AIN
  16. 16. Role of Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC)‏ <ul><li>Reaches 5 million farming households (>90% of total)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Branches and field offices throughout the country </li></ul><ul><li>Each field officer handles up to 700 customers </li></ul><ul><li>Provides micro-credit and information services </li></ul><ul><li>Participates in AIN project </li></ul><ul><li>Data collection and aggregation for policy support </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for integrated service delivery </li></ul>
  17. 17. Other Initiatives <ul><li>www.gotoknow.org </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An online community forum for people with interest in agriculture; UsableLabs, Knowledge Management Institute of Thailand, TRN Institute, and INET </li></ul></ul><ul><li>One Temple One e-Learning Center (OTEC)‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A pilot initiative in 11 temples with plans to cover 400 temples; 20 Internet-ready PCs with simple applications for IT training of community members; Support from Software Industry Promotion Agency (SIPA), Microsoft Corporation, Intel Corporation and Ministry of ICT </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. ICT in Thai Agriculture: what should it be? <ul><li>Knowledge production, digitization and dissemination </li></ul><ul><li>Clearing house for traditional and new knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity building in farming communities and extension agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Policy formulation support to governments </li></ul><ul><li>Public-Private-People Partnerships (4P’s) for Information Services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Market/Weather Information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advisory services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Decision Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community Building </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Constraints for ICT in Thai Agriculture <ul><li>Policies and Strategies for ICT Use </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of clear-cut leadership mechanism in National ICT Development </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of systematic developmental plans, clear work plans, and supporting policy </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of private sector participation in ICT related government projects </li></ul><ul><li>Systems Management and Administration </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of data sources, modern equipment, and supporting budget for them </li></ul><ul><li>Human Capacity Development </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of competent staff, skill development programs, and vision building </li></ul><ul><li>Coordination among different initiatives to take benefits of synergy </li></ul><ul><li>Linking the policy with the operations of MICT, MOST, and MOAC </li></ul>
  20. 20. Policy Guidance 1 <ul><li>ICT initiatives for agriculture in Thailand are basically funded by the government with very little participation of the private sector and NGO's. Most of these initiatives are like medium-term projects (3-5 years). Some civil society organizations such as foundations participate in these projects, but the ownership still lies with some government agency or department. The experts from various agencies provide technical inputs on ad-hoc basis. Private sector, particularly the agribusinesses, should be encouraged to participate more in such initiatives as it can bring in greater investment and technical expertise. Some information services could be outsourced to the private sector as an attraction to join such initiatives. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Policy Guidance 2 <ul><li>Also, there is no national level coordination of various public and private ICT initiatives. Whenever 2 or more independent agencies join to develop ICT intervention, each one starts claiming it to be their own. This sometimes leads to confusion and lack of direction. It will be more effective to have a national coordinating agency under the Ministry of ICT for implementation of ICT policies in various sectors of the economy, including agriculture. This will bring greater coherence among various data standards and applications used by different agencies. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Policy Guidance 3 <ul><li>Another important issue is that most ICT interventions for small-scale farmers are often information supply-driven. There are inadequate efforts to conduct a thorough information need and capacity assessment in rural areas. This leads to development of information services which are poorly utilized by rural communities. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Policy Guidance 4 <ul><li>As mentioned previously, language is a major barrier for rural adoption of ICTs. To address this, significant efforts are needed to develop appropriate content for local communities and to build human capacity. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Case Study on e-Choupal <ul><li>business-model designed by ITC to tackle the challenges posed by the unique features of Indian agriculture: </li></ul><ul><li>fragmented farms </li></ul><ul><li>weak infrastructure </li></ul><ul><li>the involvement of numerous intermediaries, among others. </li></ul>
  25. 25. e-Choupal Rationale <ul><li>1. A market-led business model can enhance the competitiveness of Indian agriculture and trigger a virtuous cycle of higher productivity, higher incomes, enlarged capacity for farmer risk management, larger investments and higher quality and productivity. </li></ul>2. Growth in rural incomes will also unleash the latent demand for industrial goods so necessary for the continued growth of the Indian economy. This will create another virtuous cycle propelling the economy into a higher growth trajectory.
  26. 26. e-Choupal Approach   The Value Chain - Farm to Factory Gate:  
  27. 27. The Traditional Intermediary? <ul><li>‘ e-Choupal’ leverages Information Technology to virtually cluster all the value chain participants, delivering the same benefits as vertical integration does in mature agricultural economies. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Village Internet Kiosks <ul><li>enable the agricultural community access ready information in their local language on the weather & market prices </li></ul><ul><li>disseminate knowledge on scientific farm practices & risk management </li></ul><ul><li>facilitate the sale of farm inputs (with embedded knowledge) and </li></ul><ul><li>purchase farm produce from the farmers’ doorsteps (decision making becomes information-based). </li></ul>
  29. 29. E-Choupal Web Site
  30. 30. e-Choupal Services <ul><li>Weather Information: local weather forecasts to help farmers decide agricultural operations </li></ul><ul><li>Best Agricultural Practices: Information for farmers to increase their productivity </li></ul><ul><li>Market Information: Options to explore world demand, world production, ‘mandi’ trading volume, and ‘mandi’ price lists </li></ul><ul><li>Q&A forum (FAQs): The website provided an interactive feature, which allows the farmer to ask a question and have it answered by the appropriate panel of experts </li></ul><ul><li>News page: This website held excerpts of relevant news items, including government decisions on subsidies or minimum support prices (MSP’s) and innovation in other countries. Local news pertaining to farmers successes were also posted. </li></ul><ul><li>Place for suggestions: The website was fluid, continually tailored to meet the farmers’ needs. ITC relied on the farmers’ participation to keep the site relevant and in a constant improvement mode. </li></ul>
  31. 31. Transaction Cost <ul><li>Real-time information and customized knowledge provided by ‘e-Choupal’ enhance the ability of farmers to take decisions and align their farm output with market demand and secure quality & productivity. </li></ul><ul><li>The aggregation of the demand for farm inputs from individual farmers gives them access to high quality inputs from established and reputed manufacturers at fair prices. </li></ul><ul><li>As a direct marketing channel, virtually linked to the ‘mandi’ system for price discovery, ‘e-Choupal’ eliminates wasteful intermediation and multiple handling. Thereby it significantly reduces transaction costs. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Win-Win Scenario <ul><li>While the farmers benefit through enhanced farm productivity and higher farm gate prices, ITC benefits from the lower net cost of procurement (despite offering better prices to the farmer) having eliminated costs in the supply chain that do not add value. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Challenges faced by ITC <ul><li>primarily infrastructural inadequacies, including power supply, telecom connectivity and bandwidth </li></ul><ul><li>apart from the challenge of imparting skills to the first time internet users in remote and inaccessible areas of rural India. </li></ul>
  34. 34. The Status of Execution <ul><li>Launched in June 2000, 'e-Choupal', has already become the largest initiative among all Internet-based interventions in rural India. </li></ul><ul><li>'e-Choupal' services today reach out to more than 3.5 million farmers growing a range of crops such as soybean, coffee, wheat, rice, pulses, shrimp </li></ul><ul><li>Over 31,000 villages through 5200 kiosks across six states (Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan). </li></ul>
  35. 35. Recognition of e-Choupal Initiative <ul><li>Nominated for Stockholm Challenge 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>The Development Gateway Award 2005 (previously known as the Petersberg Prize) for its trailblazing e-Choupal initiative. ITC is the first Indian company and the second in the world to win this prestigious award. </li></ul><ul><li>The 'Golden Peacock Global Award for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Emerging Economies for 2005'. The Company received this award for its e-Choupal and social and farm forestry initiatives that are transforming lives and landscapes in rural India. </li></ul><ul><li>The Corporate Social Responsibility Award 2004 from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) for its e-Choupal initiative. The Award provides impetus to sustainable development and encourages ongoing social responsibility processes within the corporate sector. </li></ul><ul><li>The inaugural 'World Busines Award', instituted jointly by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the HRH Prince of Wales International Business Leader’s Forum (IBLF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This award recognizes companies who have made significant efforts to create sustainable livelihood opportunities and enduring wealth in developing countries. </li></ul><ul><li>And Many Others </li></ul>
  36. 36. A South Korean Success Story: Rural Development Administration (RDA) Registered users:35,000 farmers and 8,000 researchers/extension workers 100,000 visitors to the Agricultural Information Service (1000 trained annually) SMS Messenger Help e-mail Chat Room by Crop Log in and out Best Chat Rooms List
  37. 37. Role of Government Research Institutions <ul><li>Knowledge production and dissemination </li></ul><ul><li>Clearing house for traditional and new knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Capacity building in farming communities </li></ul><ul><li>Policy formulation support to governments </li></ul><ul><li>Public-Private-People Partnerships (4P’s) </li></ul>After
  38. 38. Thank you [email_address] <ul><ul><li>Buffalo power comes to the aid of farmers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rice farmers in Chon Buri province have returned to using water buffaloes to till farmland as the unrelenting rise in petrol prices makes motorised equipment too costly. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Published on March 25, 2008 in The Nation, a Thai Newspaper </li></ul>Where have all the farmers gone? N. Chandramohan, Hindustan Times, September 8, 2008