Knowledge for Development

ICT for transforming research for agricultural and rural development

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Unlocking the Promise of ICTs for Transforming Agriculture in Africa

by Towela Nyirenda-Jere, Programmes Manager, NEPAD e-Africa Commission, CSIR, Pretoria, South Africa
In her article, the author explores the ways that ICTs can transform agriculture in Africa. She draws attention to the current status of ICTs in Africa and the promises they hold, such as the staggering growth of mobile phone use, the halting expansion of the fixed-line telephone network and the disappointing growth of internet access. She argues that ICTs could facilitate the creation of networks locally, regionally and globally, leading to collaborative and knowledge-sharing approaches to problem solving and research diversification. Yet, the most prevalent use of ICTs in agriculture is providing farmers with information and advisory services through SMS, voice, web portals and call centres. The author highlights the bi-directional sharing of information in the value chain between farmers and retailers, e-banking and the use of GIS to secure land titles. Challenges remain, however. They entail improving the mechanisms and infrastructure for sharing and exchanging agricultural knowledge generated through research at the national and regional levels, and boosting human capital to rapidly absorb and use these new technologies. Policy makers still need to appreciate fully the far-reaching benefits of ICTs and promote the right regulatory and market structures to realise their new opportunities, especially for Africa's benefit. 17/08/2010
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The Information and Communication Technologies for Agriculture e-Sourcebook describes a wide variety of ICT innovations and discusses the potential they carry for stakeholders engaged in agricultural development. This overview of the soon to be published e-Sourcebook focuses on support to poor smallholder farmers and the intermediate institutions that serve them, and within this classification of producers, on female farmers and on women employed in rural nonfarm economies. 30/08/2011
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Produced by the CGIAR System-wide Genetic Resources Programme (SGRP), Bioversity International and the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme. The aim of this learning module is to develop knowledge and skills to implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and to use the Treaty’s standard material transfer agreement (SMTA). The module contains practical exercises to reinforce an understanding of the impact and working of International Treaty law in the types of situations that professionals in plant genetic resources can expect to face. It also includes background lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, references to relevant laws and policies with links to the documents and a bibliography for further reading. The module aims to explain the Treaty in the context of other international agreements and how to use its SMTA to exchange crop diversity. The module was developed in response to a request from developing countries and the Governing Body of the International Treaty for help and capacity building relating to the Treaty’s implementation. (Source: Bioversity International, 14 Decembre 2010.) 14/02/2011
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AGRIS (the International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology) is a database of information on nearly 3 million agricultural science and technology publications from around the world. Each reference contains either links to the full text of the publication or additional information retrieved from Internet resources to facilitate finding the full text record online. A completely new version of AGRIS that uses new search technologies to improve performances and features has now been released. The AGRIS open archives and bibliographical databases cover the many aspects of agriculture, including forestry, animal husbandry, aquatic sciences and fisheries, and human nutrition, extension literature from over 100 participating countries. Material includes unique grey literature such as unpublished scientific and technical reports, theses, conference papers, government publications, and more. The AGRIS Network is an international initiative based on a collaborative network of institutions, whose aim is to promote free access to information on science and technology in agriculture and related subjects.(Source: e-agriculture, 22 December 2010) 14/02/2011
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The challenge of changing trends in the development and use of information and internet web communication technologies for veterinary medicine education in Nigeria

by Dr Olutayo Olajide Babalobi, Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria.
In his article, the author discusses trends in ICT use in veterinary science education in Nigeria. His discourse focuses on how the web itself is changing to allow new trends in communication, information and knowledge exchange to flourish in veterinary medicine. Education resources in this field of practice are actively being promoted in Nigeria, and include comprehensive articles on the application of ICTs in veterinary medicine, veterinary training and research. Their impacts and challenges are significant; as is their role in providing improved acquisition of skills and competences in veterinary medicine and animal production. Many veterinarians in Nigeria are now active participants in online social networking communities, such as Facebook, Ning and Twitter – and more and more are getting involved. The author concludes that perhaps the most important factor for the remarkable growth of ICT use recently has been collaborative funding initiatives from a number of international organisations, and he points to the massive joint support programmes set up by international funding agencies that have resulted in a phenomenal increase of ICT use in Nigeria’s veterinary faculties. 17/08/2010
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