CTA announces 2013 international conference on ICTs in agriculture

CIAT Kisumu 13
A maize farmer in Kisumu, Kenya who has signed up to receive text messages from the CIAT-led Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS). The messages provide vital information on crop management, including planting times and fertiliser application. PHOTO: Neil Palmer (CIAT).

If you are interested in the use of ICTs for agricultural development then mark this date!

From 4 to 8 November 2013, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) hosts its 2013 international conference in Kigali, Rwanda. The theme of the conference is  ICT4A: Creating the Digital Springboard for 21st Century Agriculture. The conference focuses on the use of ICTs in agriculture with particular emphasis on value chains, advocacy and policy development.

Find out more from the conference website, www.ict4a.org, where you can also sign up to receive a monthly conference newsletter/update.

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ICT for development: where are the African researchers?

If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and nobody hears it fall, does it make a sound?

An article in SciDevNet titled Research on ICT for development ‘lacks African’ voice’ prompted me to wonder why it is that the ‘voices’ of African researchers are not being heard in regard to the potential of ICT applications for development, especially since Africa bears a great burden of poverty, disease and environmental degradation, all of which are targets for strategic reduction via the Millennium Development Goals.

Is it that the research is being done but not being published widely in international peer-reviewed outlets? Or is it that the research is not being done in the first place? How do we get the findings of research carried out in public universities and published in MSc and PhD theses off the dusty library shelves and into the hands of policymakers?

It’s not enough for the African researchers to “speak”… they must also ensure that their voices are being heard in the right forums and by the right audiences. How else will their work have a positive impact on development?

Mobile phones are improving agriculture in Kenya

An IDRC-funded project, DrumNet, is helping small-scale farmers in Kenya to obtain timely market information via mobile phones. By selling directly to markets, the farmers are able to benefit from higher prices and thus improve their incomes and livelihoods.

“DrumNet offers an essential tool to farmers — information. They can find out which crops are in greatest demand, the rules and regulations of the lucrative European market, and the daily fair market price. And that is just the beginning.

Using GSM-enabled (Global System for Mobile Communications) cellphone technology, DrumNet’s integrated set of services also include credit linked to agricultural extension and marketing.”

Source: IDRC