The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) this week announced five grants totalling 400,000 EUR (536,040 USD) to five institutions in Africa and the European Union to support the adoption, uptake and scaling of information and communication technologies (ICTs) support for agriculture.
This comes as a follow-up to the ICT4Ag International Conference organised by CTA and its partners in Kigali, Rwanda, in November 2013. Even though the conference confirmed the huge potential of the new technologies to support agriculture, it also revealed a number of issues hampering their use, including the incoherence in the development process for ICT4Ag applications and the challenge for service providers to go beyond the pilot stage without donor support.
The five winning initiatives will be deployed in Antigua, Belize, Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean); Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali (West Africa); and South Sudan (East Africa) to support agricultural policy processes, agricultural extension and advisory services, fisheries value chain, and market information services.
The winning organizations are:
eLEAF Competence Centre, a Netherlands-based high-tech company that uses reliable, quantitative data on water and vegetation coverage to support sustainable water use, increase food production and provide environmental protection systems, will be scaling up its satellite-based information services at the Gezira Irrigation Dam in South Sudan to provide targeted delivery of extension services to farmers.
RONGEAD, a France-based international network system made up of NGOs, technical specialists, international institutions and businesses that provides market information services, will use the grant to improve its current initiative and scale it up through market analysis, training and capacity building, provision of information and advice and delivery of a business intelligence service to improve the competitiveness, profitability and ability of smallholder farmers to manage business risks in food chains in West Africa.
Syecomp Business Services, a private-sector provider of geographic information system (GIS) services based in Ghana, will use its grant to develop a proof of concept and explore business models for the adoption of geospatial technology (GIS/global positioning system applications), dissemination of agro climatic information and mFarm actor-chain interactions in Ghana.
The University of West Indies, a public-sector research institute located in Trinidad and Tobago, will use its grant to extend and scale up an existing suite of web and mobile applications (mFisheries) for small-scale fisheries. It will also explore a novel co-management delivery model for ICTs amongst various agents in the small scale fisheries ecosystem in the Caribbean.
Yam Pukri, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Burkina Faso, will use the grant to improve the monitoring and implementation of agricultural policies using ICTs, thereby empowering smallholder farmers to contribute to the agricultural and rural development policy processes.
The five grants were awarded following a rigorous competitive process that involved more than 30 high-quality proposals addressing various informational issues along agricultural value chains.
Announcing the grants this week, the manager of CTA’s programme on Policies, Markets and ICTs, Mr Lamon Rutten, stated that this is the beginning of a new journey to ensure ICT solutions benefit smallholder farmers across African, Caribbean and Pacific nations. He noted that these five grants are a pilot to explore the various models of information exchange with the users, learn from them and support good practices for sustainability.
CTA awards these grants as part of its new initiative, ‘Building viable delivery models of ICT4Ag,’ that aims to ensure that smallholder farmers benefit from the digital revolution. A series of activities has been lined up as part of this initiative, including: identifying and collating information on existing ICT solutions through an Apps4Ag database; mapping solutions along an agricultural value chain model to facilitate their retrieval and inform strategies for developing new apps; developing a framework for assessing the usability and functionality of the apps; pilot-testing the framework on selected apps in selected geographic regions and building a Community of Practice (CoP) around the Apps4Ag; and using the results and lessons learned through these pilots to support the roll-out of viable delivery models that ensure up-scaling of ICT4Ag initiatives.
News Source-CTA: http://cta.int/en/article/2014-08-27/cta-announces-grants-to-five-institutions-to-facilitate-the-scaling-up-of-ict-solutions-in-acp-count.html