agriculture

In African agriculture, information is power

Title: In African agriculture, information is power
Author: Ken Banks
Source: News Watch
Publisher: National Geographic
Date (published): 05/09/2011
Date (accessed): 07/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"You don’t have to spend long in many African agricultural markets to realise the need for better information. Farmers lack prices, traders need transport and new contacts, projects and governments need a better way to reach out to people, businesses lack real-time updates on their stock and the value of their harvests. The list goes on.

In this installment of Mobile Message, Sarah Bartlett – Director of Communications and Research at Esoko - explains how African technology is being used to power agricultural markets across Africa, filling an ‘information void’ for local farmers in the process.

Mobile Message is a series of blog posts about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives."

Rural Youth in Kenya, and the Impact of ICTs

Title: Rural Youth in Kenya, and the Impact of ICTs
Author: Chris Mwangi
Source: GBI Portal
Publisher: USAID
Date (published): 12/08/2011
Date (accessed): 07/09/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"We would be missing the full significance of ICTs if we do not see them as an integral part in the efforts to improve the everyday life of rural folk in Kenya. Mobile technology being the key mode of communication in the country has contributed greatly to local youth livelihoods. Using mobile phones, the youth have able to access knowledge and information which are vital aspects for improving agricultural development by increasing agricultural yields and marketing.

With accessibility of mobile phone networks throughout the country, services such as Safaricom’s mobile money transfer (M-Pesa), mobile money banking (M Kesho) and information on agricultural produce markets have created job opportunities for the youth as the number of agents increase."

Amid Kenya’s Food Crisis, Radio Educates Farmers

Title: Amid Kenya’s Food Crisis, Radio Educates Farmers
Author: Dinfin Mulupi
Source: AudienceScapes
Date (published): 18/07/2011
Date (accessed): 07/09/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"At a time when Kenya is struggling to feed its population following severe droughts, radio programs are educating listeners on better farming techniques in a bid to improve food security.

Kenya is on the brink of possibly one of its worst droughts in 60 years, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Aid groups have issued their largest-ever appeal for food aid for parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.
The food shortage resulting from this year’s drought is not uncommon in Kenya, although this year it is particularly severe. For decades, Kenya has suffered frequent acute food shortages. Paradoxically, it is believed that close to 80 percent of the population engages in farming. While Kenya’s food shortages are caused by a complex set of circumstances – drought, high global food prices, political instability -- the poor farming techniques practiced by Kenya’s majority small holder farmers have been singled out as a major factor.
To remedy this problem, some radio stations in Kenya are broadcasting programs to educate farmers about successful agricultural techniques. The goal is to promote food security for the region by helping small holder farmers increase their yield."

African Cashew Initiative: Cooperation to Use ICT for the Benefit of Cashew Growers

Title: African Cashew Initiative: Cooperation to Use ICT for the Benefit of Cashew Growers
Source: ict4d Newsletter
Publisher: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Date (published): July 2011
Date (accessed): 10/08/2011
Type of information: short notice
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"We recently published, in collaboration with our colleagues from the African Cashew Initiative, a short paper “Virtual Cooperatives: ICT for African Cashew Farmers” on a development partnership with SAP Research in Ghana.
The development partnership utilizes Information and Communication Technologies to provide the means to enhance the productivity of Cashew farmers, to strengthen farmer cooperatives, and to enable them to do collaborative business with the established economy in a transparent and sustainable way.
To learn more, you can download the paper here or visit the website of the African Cashew Initiative. Also, Deutsche Welle, the German international TV channel, has produced a short video about the pilot of the project in Brong Ahafo, Ghana."
via https://twitter.com/#!/ictdev

Agricultural Information, the Global Food Crisis, and Effective Use

Title: Agricultural Information, the Global Food Crisis, and Effective Use
Author: Michael Gurstein
Source: Gurstein's Community Informatics
Date (published): 25/07/2011
Date (accessed): 25/07/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Community Informatics colleague Ajit Maru, in a posting on the Community Informatics Research elist suggests some disturbing questions concerning the relationship between “Information Access” and “effective use” and its possible links to the rising food crisis globally.
He comments on the increasing shift of governments to making agricultural information available primarily in electronic form via the web or through mobile access. This is inevitably linked to declining support for the provision of agricultural information through the more traditional face to face connections of agricultural extension...
...
To add to these very important comments… There is currently an overwhelming pre-occupation of donors and those concerned with ICTs and development with “mobiles for development” that is with additional means for the infrastructure for “accessing” information. However, there would appear to be little or no related concern (or resources) for ensuring that the pre-conditions for ensuring the effective use of this information particularly by rural small-holders—that the information to overwhelmingly non- or only marginally literate end users is in the multiple languages of the end users, is accessible on devices available to end users a, provides sufficient information context to be usable by end user, is structured in such a way as to enable necessary collaborative action by small-holders and so on."

Africa's mobile economic revolution

Title: Africa's mobile economic revolution
Author: Killian Fox
Source: The Observer
Publisher: The Guardian
Date (published): 24/07/2011
Date (accessed): 24/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Half of Africa's one billion population has a mobile phone – and not just for talking. The power of telephony is forging a new enterprise culture, from banking to agriculture to healthcare

Earlier this month, on a short bus ride through the centre of Kampala, I decided to carry out an informal survey. Passing through the Ugandan capital's colourful and chaotic streets, I would attempt to count the signs of the use of mobile phones in evidence around me. These included phone shops and kiosks, street-corner airtime vendors and giant billboard ads, as well as people actually using their mobile phones: a girl in school uniform writing a text message as she hurried along the street, a businessman calmly making a call from the back of a motorcycle taxi swerving through heavy rush-hour traffic. Not only were half of the passengers on my bus occupied with their handsets, our driver was too, thumbing at his keypad as he ferried us to our final destination. After five minutes, I lost count and retired with a sore neck. There was more evidence here than I could put a number on.

My survey underlined a simple fact: Africa has experienced an incredible boom in mobile phone use over the past decade. In 1998, there were fewer than four million mobiles on the continent. Today, there are more than 500 million. In Uganda alone, 10 million people, or about 30% of the population, own a mobile phone, and that number is growing rapidly every year. For Ugandans, these ubiquitous devices are more than just a handy way of communicating on the fly: they are a way of life.

It may seem unlikely, given its track record in technological development, but Africa is at the centre of a mobile revolution. In the west, we have been adapting mobile phones to be more like our computers: the smartphone could be described as a PC for your pocket. In Africa, where a billion people use only 4% of the world's electricity, many cannot afford to charge a computer, let alone buy one. This has led phone users and developers to be more resourceful, and African mobiles are being used to do things that the developed world is only now beginning to pick up on."

Closing the digital divide for Zambia's farmers

Title: Closing the digital divide for Zambia's farmers
Author: Georgina Smith
Source: New Agriculturist
Date (published): June 2011
Date (accessed): 24/07/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"Rows of mobile telephones sit recharging in the Chinyunya community telecentre, an hour's drive east of Zambia's capital Lusaka. Powered by 67 1 x 0.5m solar panels and offering a photocopier, projector and three internet-connected computers as well as phone services, the centre is changing the way that farmers in the area receive agricultural information.
Whether it's investigating drought-resistant plants, choosing the best crop rotation, or learning how to retain water in the soil, the internet offers ideas and solutions which can be refined or adapted in discussion with extension officers. The telecentre acts as a point for sharing and accessing previously unavailable information on market prices, machinery and fertiliser availability, and is a networking hub for local agricultural training centres offering advice on organic farming and other practices."

Using Mobile Money, Mobile Banking to Enhance Agriculture in Africa

Title: Using Mobile Money, Mobile Banking to Enhance Agriculture in Africa
Author: Judy Payne, Krish Kumar
Pages: 4 pp.
Publisher: USAID
Date (published): 20/12/2010
Date (accessed): 18/03/2011
Type of information: briefing paper
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
Abstract:
"This is one of a series of briefing papers to help USAID missions and their implementing partners in sub-Saharan Africa use information and communications technology (ICT) more successfully — via sustainable and scalable approaches—to improve the impact of their agriculture related development projects including Feed the Future projects.1
In this context, this paper provides a brief overview of mobile money and mobile banking services. As the resource list at the end of this paper illustrates, there are many other sources of information available to inform the reader regarding the many aspects of m-money and m-banking related to security, risks, legal and regulatory issues, and key challenges for implementers. In contrast, the paper explains the basics of such services; their current and potential use for agriculture related projects; a few lessons learned to date related to such usage; and a few issues to consider when looking ahead."
via http://www.ictworks.org/

Global Village Construction Set

Title: Global Village Construction Set
Source: Open Source Ecology
Date (accessed): 08/02/2011
Type of information:
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:
"he GVCS is a set of 50 tools / technologies for building post-scarcity, resilient communities.
...
This page is about the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) and the plan for how it will be built by Open Source Ecology.
...
The Global Village Construction Set - Products and services for a self-sufficient economy
HABITAT: CEB Press - Sawmill - Living Machines - Modular Housing Units
AGROECOLOGY: LifeTrac Multi Purpose Tractor - MicroTrac - Power Cube - Agricultural Spader - Agricultural Microcombine - Hammer Mill - Well Drilling Rig - Organoponic Raised Bed Gardening - Orchard and Nursery - Modular Greenhouse Units - Bakery - Dairy - Energy Food Bars - Freeze Dried Fruit Powders
ENERGY: Pyrolysis Oil - Babington Burner - Solar Combined Heat Power System - Steam Engine Construction Set - Solar Turbine - Electric Motors/Generators - Inverters & Grid Intertie - Batteries
FLEXIBLE INDUSTRY: Lathe - Torch Table - Multimachine & Flex Fab - Plastic Extrusion & Molding - Metal Casting and Extrusion
TRANSPORTATION: Open Source Car
MATERIALS: Bioplastics
In effect, the products serve as a sufficient, but incomplete, basis for a Global Village Construction Set (GVCS). We are talking about resettling land to become its stewards - whether in locations already settled or on frontiers.
Economy creates culture and culture creates politics. Politics sought are ones of freedom, voluntary contract, and human evolution in harmony with life support systems. Note that resource conflicts and overpopulation are eliminated by design. We are after the creation of new society, one which has learned from the past and moves forward with ancient wisdom and modern technology.
Furthermore, it should be noted that this is a real experiment, and product selection is based on us living with the given technologies. First, it is the development of real, economically significant hardware, product, and engineering. Second, this entire set is being compiled into one setting, and land is being populated with the respective productive agents. The aim is to define a new form of social organization where it is possible to create advanced culture, thriving in abundance and largely autonomous, on the scale of a village, not nation or state."

Free digital access to 30 years of UNEP-WCMC publications and reports

Title: Free digital access to 30 years of UNEP-WCMC publications and reports
Source:AgInfo News from IAALD
Publisher:International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD)
Date (published):01/11/2010
Date (accessed):04/11/2010
Type of information:blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
Abstract:

Since its creation in 1979 WCMC has produced well over 1500 books and major reports. UNEP-WCMC has selected 380 of the most important books and reports from this collection, and has worked with the Biodiversity Heritage Library to make these freely available online.

These documents include a significant body of information of value to audiences around the world ranging from researchers to the general public, and from educators to decision-makers. Items are available in 9 different formats, for maximum accessibility, and are published according to open access standards in a forum which welcomes and encourages both use and contribution, while respecting attribution rights.

The internet archive website has instant download statistics, and items rank highly in Google searches. In only a few months the UNEP-WCMC materials had already been downloaded 9,307 times (by 14th Oct 2010) - with no specific promotion other than through informal networks.

The UNEP-WCMC archive can be found at http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=wcmc and will soon be incorporated into the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

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