Sunday, 3 November 2013

Global conference to boost ICT in agriculture


An execited farmer at the end of his routine. A conference in Kigali seeks to leverage ICT power in marketing farm produce.

Kigali will, starting today, host a global conference that will discuss how the power of ICT can be leveraged to grant farmers direct access to markets.

During the conference, participants will discuss ways to promote the application of information and communication technology in the agriculture sector with particular emphasis on value chain, advocacy and policy development.

At least 400 people are expectd to attend the conference.

The conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (Minagri), in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and ICT, and the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of states and the European Union.

Michael Hailu, the CTA director, told The New Times that they are seeking to have people learning the benefits of ICTs in improving agriculture

productivity, and, by extension, improving people’s lives.

“Participants from these countries are going to share their experiences and we hope that this network will help in promoting ICT solutions in all these countries,” he said.

Delegates will discuss how increased investment and adoption of ICTs in the agriculture sector will contribute to improved value chains and more effective advocacy and policy processes in agricultural and rural development.

Current ICT in agriculture

Rwandan farmers currently use ICT in information and knowledge sharing on market prices through the e-Soko.

e-Soko, a system that can be consulted via mobile phone or computer, gives information on market prices, making it easier for buyers to decide where to make their purchase at a lower price, while the sellers use it to determine where to sale their produce at the best price.

The system can be consulted even with the simplest mobile by calling 7656.

“We hope solutions like the e-soko will be discussed on how they can be enhanced further. All involved in the supply chain share one goal; of maximising profits and reducing middle man costs,” said Angel Uwizeyimana, a vendor in Kimironko market.

The five-day conference will start with a ‘Plug and Play Day’ where delegates will discover and experience innovations, mobile applications and cutting edge ICT solutions in a truly informal environment.

A ‘hackathon’ will run in parallel to the event, where IT developers will be challenged to create applications to address a specific agricultural issue.

It will end on Friday with site visits to key ICT and agriculture projects such as Huguka Radio, an agricultural-focused and rural development radio station, and Gicumbi, an individual initiative where university staff link with farmers to provide knowledge and farming practical solutions.

Global conference to boost ICT in agriculture


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