IGF 2018 WS #64 Scaling up Use of ICTs in Agricultural Development in Africa

Organizer 1: Civil Society, African Group

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to transform business and government in Africa, driving entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth. The strategic application of ICT to the agricultural industry, the largest economic sector in most African countries, offers the best opportunity for economic growth and poverty alleviation on the continent. Food security is paramount for the survival of individ- uals, families and ultimately nations, yet Africa’s agriculture sector has been in decline over the past 40 years. Poor farmers have largely remained poor with 73 percent of the people living in rural areas subsisting on less than a dollar a day.

Format: 

Panel - 60 Min

Interventions: 

Multi-stakeholder research partnerships, including farmers, extension professionals, educators, and scientists, have many benefits. They focus research • on the most relevant topics, reduce the time needed to complete research, and • improve the efficiency and effectiveness
of the research process. Examples of applications of ICT in agricultural knowledge include ICTs for spatial analysis and targeting of programmes
ICTs for better risk management, ICTs and financial services for the farmer, eEducation edge sharing and virtual aggregation of small stakeholders.

Another example of mobile technology in agriculture is a well- established service that has been operating in Ghana since 2005. The Esoko Ghana Commodity Index (EGCI) is a rural communication platform that publishes a cash market price index composed of data on physical commodities. The index is published weekly and tracks wholesale and retail prices and aims to improve farmers’ incomes by building healthy markets. Currently, Esoko is active in ten countries in Africa and has a variety of partnership agreements which include public sector agricultural projects, Esoko country franchises, and licensed partners.

Agricultural insurance is becoming increasingly important as extreme weather patterns generated by climate change are exacerbating volatility in food production and food prices. Crop insurance has long been used in developed countries to deal with weather uncertainties, but its availability in Africa, particularly to smallholder farmers, has been extremely limited. Agricultural insurance also applies to livestock, bloodstock, forestry, aquaculture, and greenhouses. ICTs can play an important role in the agricultural insurance process by facilitating access to information and services to stakeholders;
providing advance information about weather and market price situations; providing better services and facilitate speedy claims servicing; monitoring and tracking premium repayments; and ensuring a better interface between the insurer and the insured, particularly for field-based transactions;
and developing specialized and afford- • improving complaints procedures. able rural insurance products; and

Diversity: 

The session will gear towards a multi-stakeholder representative panel that will bring new voices and dynamic views within the agricultural sector. The session will serve to publicly encourage opinions from the internet and ICT community and sets the standard for sustainable systems that take note of empathy and understanding.

The role that ICT can play in addressing these challenges is increasing as personal ICT devices – such as mobile phones or tablet PCs – are becoming more widely available. ICT, when embedded in broader stakeholder systems, can bring economic development and growth as it can help bridge critical knowledge gaps. Mobile technology, on the other hand, is increasingly being adopted as the technology of choice for delivery of ICT services and solutions.
The wider adoption of ICT in agriculture is of strategic importance to five main stakeholder groups including businesses: businesses, associations, other organizations, Farmers: individuals; organized, and informal association, Researchers: researchers; educators and trainers, Government: ministries of agriculture, and other relevant departments and agencies and citizens, both as consumers and as custodians of the environment. for instance through civil society organizations.
In identifying the ways in which ICT can help agriculture, it is useful to view the farming life cycle as a three-stage process (see Figure 1):
• Pre-cultivation: including crop selection, land selection, calendar definition, access to credit, etc.
• Crop cultivation and harvesting: including land preparation and sowing, input management, water management and fertilization, pest management, etc.
• Post-harvest: including marketing, transportation, packaging, food processing, etc.
Of course, some aspects of how ICTs can assist with agriculture are crosscutting, like the use of geographical information systems (GIS) for land-use planning, while others are broader than agriculture, such as their use in climate change adaptation. Nevertheless, this framework provides a useful basis for analysis.

Discussion Facilitation: 

The purpose of the session is to be very interactive yet informative. The duration of the session will be 90mins roundtable discussions broken down in the following:
10mins opening remarks/introduction from speakers
45min panel discussion with moderator probing
35min open floor discussion with periodic intervals for remote participants

The roundtable will be in such a way that the audience/participants and the speakers will sit in one large round table with individual microphones per chair on the table. This set up allows for an open and equal space for dialogue and emphasizing that panel speakers are not more important than the audience. Also it will give room for ease of debate and discussions, where audiences will have a microphone near to them.

There will be a dedicated answer and question period, where during this time, participants and panel speakers are free to talk about the content of the session in length. More time will be given to open floor

Online Participation: 

Centre for Technical and Rural Cooperation 9CTA) will host a remote hub. At the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, we shape the move to next generation farming in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Countries by fostering innovation with technology and sharing actionable knowledge.

Contact Information

United Nations
Secretariat of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Villa Le Bocage
Palais des Nations,
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

igf [at] un [dot] org
+41 (0) 229 173 678