ICT can take new information to farmers

Panaji, August 20:

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is giving hope to farmers by providing knowledge on latest farm technology, easy credits and market situation. But delivering results is taking longer than anticipated, say specialists in the field.

“ICT enables the delivery of new information, knowledge and skills needed for more empowered, market oriented, informed and sustainable agr-iculture and rural developme-nt,” says Gaurav Mishra of the Indian Association for Information Technology in Agriculture (IAITA). The association has organised three national workshops on ‘ICT in Agriculture and Rural Development’ in December 2003 and others in December 2004 and June this year. The last, on ‘ICT and Agriculture: From Potential to Prosperity in a Global Perspective’, was held at the Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT) campus.

IAITA, based at DA-IICT, aims to encourage “crossways dialogue between researchers, advisers, commercial developers and user farmers so as to benefit all concerned for effective application of IT in agriculture”.

The organisation says, “IT is sterile unless it is applied to solve real problems in a realistic and cost effective way. IAITA seeks to promote communication and understanding between everyone involved in agriculture.” The association’s founder members are scientists, experts and farmers in different parts of the country and it has its headquarters in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

IAITA adds that it is keen “to bring together interested people from all parts of the country from various fields like cooperatives, industries, farmers, consultants, technology experts, educationalists, sales personnel, IT specialists, market and processing industry research scientists, administrators and political leaders”. Some of its recent focus has been on globalisation and concerns for farm and rural development, apart from ICT for agribusiness at the village level and ICT applications to ‘reduce the distance between farmers and consumers’.

The other themes taken up are utilising domestic resources, ICTs in food safety and trade, geographical information systems (GIS) for development, automation in agriculture, knowledge markets and ICT for market development.