e-Agriculture should focus on Information over Technology , say respondents in recent global survey

A recent global online survey, conducted as a follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), indicates that improving information and communication processes should be the top priority in furthering global discussions and related actions in e-Agriculture. The survey identified ways to enhance sustainable agricultural development and food security by improving the use of information and communication technologies in the sector.

Almost half of stakeholders working in agriculture identified e-Agriculture with improvements in processes such as information dissemination, access, and exchange; and communication, participation, and network/community-building activities amongst rural stakeholders. In contrast, only a third mentioned technological tools, such as mobile phones, computers, or the internet.

The survey, conducted in late 2006 by the WSIS e-Agriculture Working Group, gauged stakeholders’ opinions relating to e-Agriculture, including: familiarity with and definitions for the term; benefits and challenges of e-Agriculture; and priorities to be addressed in an international forum. The survey, which is being used to determine further action to implement e-Agriculture, received responses from over 3400 participants in more than 135 countries.

Stakeholders clearly indicated a range of important technical subjects to be addressed through e-Agriculture, including farming techniques and practices, market/food chains, and research. The survey results will guide efforts in addressing the concerns of stakeholders and bringing their views to the attention of the international community.

Dr. Anton Mangstl, Director of the Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division within the Knowledge and Communication Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) states, "E-Agriculture was seen to be more than just new ways of using technology but a contributing factor in the achievement of broader development goals. We are encouraged by the response we received in this global survey, and the interest in furthering e-Agriculture on a global scale."

A more detailed report on the e-Agriculture survey is available on the WSIS official website. A purpose-built interactive e-Agriculture website will be launched in 2007, and will feature a user forum, resources, tools, and other content chosen by global stakeholders and based on respondent’s contributions to the survey.
Charlotte Masiello-Riome Communication and Promotion Officer, FAOWSIS e-Agriculture Communications Focal Point [email protected]

The objective of the e-Agriculture Working Group is to create multi-stakeholder, people-centred, cross-sectoral platform that will bring together stakeholders representing relevant constituencies of e-Agriculture. Members include: Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR); Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA); UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA); FAO; Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ); Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR); Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD); International Centre for Communication for Development (IICD); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); International Telecommunications Union (ITU); World Bank.