Using mobile technologiesto empower rural farmingcommunitiesEugenio TisselliAUP, April 2012
My two research questions:1. How can mobile communication technologies and networksbe used to empower rural farming communities?2. How has the western discourse about the relationshipbetween nature, technology and ourselves shifted?In order to address the first question, Ill begin by addressingthe second one...
From awe to superiority: technology and naturePlato: Craftsmen create tools which imitate naturesperfectionBacon (about inquiry and technological innovation): “The endof our endeavour is the knowledge of causes, and secretmotions of things; and the enlarging of the bounds of humanempire to the effecting of all things possible.” (1620)Heideggers views (1962): “Heidegger understandstechnology as a particular manner of approaching reality, adominating and controlling one in which reality can onlyappear as raw material to be manipulated” (Verbeek, P.-P.(2005): “What Things Do: Philosophical Reflections onTechnology, Agency, and Design”)Source: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “Philosophy of Technology”,http://www.iep.utm.edu/technolo/
How to shift the discourse that hasbrought us to this?
“We feed the World”, a documentary by Erwin WagenhoferLearn more:The value of nothing: how to reshape market society andredefine democracyRaj Patel, 2010
Although “the mastery of nature is, so the imperialists teach,the purpose of all technology…technology is not the masteryof nature but of the relation between nature and man” (WalterBenjamin, “One Way Street”, 1928)From awe to superiority to... reciprocity?Michel Serres, in “Le Contrat naturel” (1990) details how ourrelationship with nature is a parassitic one, and argues in favorof a symbiotic contract: “... a symbiotic right is defined byreciprocity: man must give back to nature as much as hereceives from her, converting her thus into a legal subject.”
A holistic view of Food production in agricultural science: Source: IAASTD/Ketill Berger, UNEP/GRID-Arendal “Under conditions of changing climate and economic uncertainty, it will be important to include sciences outside the conventional agricultural domain ... Using local and traditional knowledge as well as advanced sciences across a broad field of disciplines can facilitate multifunctional approaches to agriculture that benefit small- scale producers.” IAASTD, “Towards Multifunctional Agriculture for Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability”
Sauti ya wakulima, The voice of the farmers in Swahili, is acollaborative knowledge base created by farmers from the Chambeziregion of the Bagamoyo District in Tanzania by gathering audiovisualevidence of their practices using smartphones to publish images andvoice recordings on the Internet.
This maize has been planted on terraces so as toprevent water logging.
This is corn that I grow on terraces after getting advicefrom my colleague. I got advice on cultivating on terracesduring the winter and not in summer as previously. Thismaize has begun to dry up and is ready to eat.
By allowing farmers to create a collaborative knowledge baseof their practices, social environment and daily life, Sauti yawakulima directly addresses the social sphere of foodproduction in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.Six study tags have been used to study how can Sauti yawakulima strengthen the farmers local culture:creativity, knowledge, needs, advertisement, socialcapital, evidenceFarmers have also describedSauti ya wakulima as anenvironment for mutual learning.
When viewed collectively, the images contributed by farmersto their knowledge base can trigger fruitful discussions andprovoke insights.Images as “conversation starters” have long been used toeffectively support anthropological research:“... two individuals looking at the same thing can and do see entirelydifferent aspects of that event.”“... vision, like language, is not only structured but deeply contextual.”“... photographs can ... be tools with which to obtain knowledge beyondthat provided through direct analysis ... They can function as starting andreference points for discussion of the familiar and the unknown.”(Collier, J., Collier, M., “Visual Anthropology: Photography as a researchmethod”, 1986)
What the farmers at Chambezi had to say about the project:“The project is about Education and Learning, Trade and Business,and it is a fluid and remote way to communicate with extensionofficers. It is an easy way to communicate.”“Very few farmers know about the Internet, and there is a need toprovide more training and resources.”“The project brought more cohesion to the group.”“The project helped me learn that phones can be used for otherthings besides calling people, and that computers can also be usedto solve problems: they are not just a fancy thing for the rich peoplein towns.”“Farmers have a lot of things to say, but no means to talk aboutthem.”
How the farmers at Chambezi would improve the project:“By having more phones and more participants. We also need moretraining on how to use these tools.”“This project is very valuable, it cant be limited only to us, it has toextend to other farmers.”“Include people from different areas, so we can learn from thosewho are far away, doing different things.”“How can we get feedback when we report a problem?”