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VIDEO

ICT for Extension

This video gives a good overview of how ICT is used to collect information from farmers, and how farmers themselves can benefit from this collection.

VIDEO

ICT and Agricultural Market Information

This video explores some of the market uses of ICT for farmers as well as how ICT allows for better information to reach the right farmer.

VIDEO

The Potential of Big Data for Agriculture

This video highlights briefly the enormous potential there is in the Agricultural Sector to make use of Big Data, given climate change and the tools available

VIDEO

ICT in Agriculture for Women

Do women farmers have access to the same information and ICT tools as men? Catherine addresses some issues regarding women's use of ICT in Agriculture.

VIDEO

ICT in Agriculture: Beyond the Pilots

Shaun Ferris expands on some of the ICT in agriculture success over the last few decades and where the ICT for Agriculture Agenda needs to go forward from here.

ICT for Agriculture

Understanding and addressing global agriculture developments—both advantageous and not—are critical to improving smallholder livelihoods, in which ICT can play a major role. The continued increase in globalization and integration of food markets has intensified competition and efficacy in the agriculture sector, and has brought unique opportunities to include more smallholders into supply chains. Yet in the same vein, agriculture faces a range of modern and serious challenges, particularly in developing countries exposed to price shocks, climate change, and continued deficiencies in infrastructure in rural areas.
When commodity prices rise quickly and steeply, they precipitate concerns about food insecurity, widespread poverty, and conflict—more so in countries that import high volumes of staple foods. Globalized food markets also increase the risk that some countries and many smallholders will remain marginalized from the expanding and more profitable agricultural value chains (such as premium foods, which have seen an increase in demand due to an expanding middle class) that rely on technical sophistication to ensure speed, scale, and customization.
Climate change has also played an acute role in keeping smallholders in the underbelly of value chains. Farmers can no longer rely on timeworn coping strategies when all of their familiar benchmarks for making agricultural decisions—the timing of rains for planting and pasture, the probability of frost, the duration of dry intervals that spare crops from disease—are increasingly less reliable. Severe and unexpected weather are shrinking already-limited yields and promoting migration from rural areas and rural jobs. Weather-related events leave developing-country governments, who lack the resources and the private sector investment to provide risk management instruments, to cope with major crop failures and the displaced victims only after the fact.
It is in the context of globalizing agriculture where the need for information becomes most vivid. The smallholders, who still provide a significant portion of the world’s food, need information to advance their work just as much as industrial-scale producers. Comparing the two types of farmers—industrial and small-scale—exemplifies the latter’s disadvantages. Where wealthier industrial producers can use the Internet, phone, weather forecasts, other digital tools, and technologies as simple as vehicles and infrastructure as basic as electricity to glean information on prices, markets, varieties, production techniques, services, storage, or processing, smallholders remain dependent primarily on word of mouth, previous experience, and local leadership.
The smallholder disadvantage does not stop there. Financial and insurance services are often out of reach and poorly understood. Key intermediaries like producer organizations and rural institutions (including local government) could help alleviate the disadvantage, but in many places, the former are just emerging and the latter are inefficient and nontransparent. Both require a variety of technical and financial support to grow and become inclusive and effective. Many of these challenges and others can be addressed by using ICT effectively.

About the Presenters

Katie Kennedy Freeman

Katie Kennedy Freeman works with the World Bank’s Global Food and Agriculture Global Practice (GFADR) as an Agriculture Economist focused on the areas of agriculture risk, agriculture and ICT and the intersection of agriculture and energy. Currently she works on these areas specifically in Latin America. Before coming to the World Bank in 2012, she worked at the Earth Institute at Columbia University implementing research programs on ICT in agriculture and energy for agriculture.

Erick Fernandes

Vikas Choudhary

Vikas Choudhary is a Senior Economist in the Global Food and Agriculture Practice (GFADR). He manages the operations of the Agricultural Risk Management Team (ARMT). Prior to joining the World Bank, he was a Director at the Center of High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania. He started his career with the Government of Rajasthan and subsequently worked with CARE-India, set up a USAID project value chain project, and started a felt export business

Catherine Ragasa

Catherine Ragasa received her PhD in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University in 2008 and holds a Masters in Economics from University of the Philippines-School of Economics. Prior to IFPRI, she worked for 4 years in the Agriculture and Rural Development Department in the World Bank, where she managed and coordinated a number of agriculture programs, with emphasis on gender approaches and agricultural innovation systems. She is involved in a number of analytical pieces on gender in agriculture; agriculture biotechnology; agricultural research, extension and education; value chain analysis; and fisheries issues. She has performed economic and financial analyses in numerous World Bank agriculture and natural resources operations and projects. She has worked in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Mali, Nigeria, Zambia, and South Africa. Her research interests are on food safety; fisheries; agriculture biotechnology; and agricultural research, extension and education.

Shaun Ferris

Shaun Ferris is Director of Agriculture and Livelihoods, based in Baltimore. He provides technical assistance to CRS' programs overseas with an emphasis on agro-enterprise development. This includes developing best practices that enable poor farming communities to engage with markets more successfully. As a result, new methods are now being implemented in more than 35 countries that provide better incomes for farmers.Dr. Ferris holds a B.S. in Horticultural Science from the University of Reading in Reading, U.K., an M.S. in Tropical and Agronomy from Nottingham University in Nottingham, U.K. and a Ph.D. in Post-Production Science from Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, U.K.While pursuing his Ph.D., Dr. Ferris spent time studying at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Syria from 1983 to 1984, and monitored post-harvest losses of plantain and banana in the western and Ashanti regions of Ghana from 1988 to 1990. He investigated the effects of storage on crop quality and the effect of edible fruit coatings at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria in 1990, and evaluated market quality standards and demand for local fruit at the University of Philippines Los Banos in 1991. From 1992 to 1995, Mr. Ferris studied fruit genetics within the banana improvement program and evaluated cropping systems at IITA.From 1995 to 1999, he served as Regional Manager for IITA's Agro-enterprise portfolio in eastern Africa, leading a cassava rehabilitation project in Uganda and a rehabilitation project for the public research sector in Rwanda. During that time, he also assisted with the establishment of a regional post-harvest research facility for rural food security enhancement in Uganda to support activities in eastern Africa.From 1999 to 2004, he served as Regional Coordinator for the Marketing and Postharvest Network in east and central Africa. This position focused on integrating enterprise development and market analysis into the research programs of the regional agricultural research institutions.In 2004, Dr. Ferris joined CIAT as project manager for the Agro-enterprise Development Project, managing a portfolio of rural business projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.Before joining CRS in 2007, he served as a consultant to a number of organizations and government agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Foundation for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), World Bank, and the government of Uganda.