Agricultural informatics is a new concept that has arisen following the rapid development in information and communication technologies (ICTs), and of the internet. Referred to as e-agriculture, agricultural informatics is an emerging field which combines the advances in agricultural informatics, agricultural development and entrepreneurship to provide better agricultural services, enhanced technology dissemination, and information delivery through the advances in ICT and the internet.
The e-Agriculture concept, however, goes beyond technology, to the integration of knowledge and culture, aimed at improving communication and learning processes among relevant actors in agriculture at different levels i.e. locally, regionally and globally.
For the past 10 years, there has been remarkable progress in the use of ICT in African agriculture, especially in the area of farmers’ access to market information. Various projects have been developed that integrate ICTs into the dissemination of agricultural information to farmers.
Farmers Information Services at both the national and regional level are a promising new field of research and application in the emerging field of e-agriculture. This bulletin highlights under the resources section a number of innovative projects that utilize ICTs in delivering information to farmers in Africa.
It complements the release on 19/12 of the FARA report: Inventory of Innovative Farmers Informations Services using ICTs. This inventory is an attempt to document all known innovative farmer advisory services or systems, currently in design, in existence or recently completed in Africa. Entries include projects using ICT solutions or implementing ICT-based activities, institutions/groups providing services using ICTs as well as ICT solutions software providers, both at the national and regional level. While many of the entries are projects with a definitive beginning and end date providing one or two services, others are national or regional information systems providing many agricultural services using ICTs. Click here to view this inventory.
It is important to realize that farmers and agricultural labourers should not be treated as mere consumers of generic information and knowledge. The agricultural sector requires a well-organized learning community in the form of farmers’ associations, cooperatives, women’s groups, etc. Innovative farmer information systems are a blended learning process in which face to face interaction, learning by doing, learning through evaluation and experience, participatory research, etc. convert the generic information into location specific knowledge and then empower its members through horizontal transfer of knowledge. It should enhance the self-directed learning among the rural community.
Executive Director, FARA