Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is a broader term for Information Technology (IT), which refers to all communication technologies, including the internet, wireless networks, cell phones, computers, software, middleware, video-conferencing, social networking, and other media applications and services enabling users to access, retrieve, store, transmit, and manipulate information in a digital form.

ICTs are also used to refer to the convergence of media technology such as audio-visual and telephone networks with computer networks, by means of a unified system of cabling (including signal distribution and management) or link system. However, there is no universally accepted definition of ICTs considering that the concepts, methods and tools involved in ICTs are steadily evolving on an almost daily basis.

To define professional skill levels for its ICT professional education products, the IEEE Computer Society has adopted, for example, the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). The value of ICT strategies as a means of bridging the digital divide and as a powerful tool for economic and social development around the world should not be underestimated in agricultural and related sectors. Improving extension of ICT services to farmers would effectively improve the transmission of global open data for agriculture and nutrition for development of sensible solutions addressing food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture issues.

By using ICTs, there have already “been diverse types of innovations taking place in the agriculture sector, which include commodity and stock market price information and analysis, meteorological data collection, advisory services to farmers for agricultural extension, early warning systems for disaster prevention and control, financial services, traceability of agricultural products, agricultural statistical data gathering, etc." (ICT for sustainable agriculture, FAO, 2013).

e-Agriculture refers to use of ICT in agriculture.

In 2007, FAO and a group of founding partners launched the e-Agriculture Community of Practice - an online space to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and experiences of projects where ICTs are used for agriculture and rural development (e-Agriculture 10 year Review Report. Implementation of the World Summit on Information Society/WSIS, 2015).

To date, the e-Agriculture Community has over 15,000 members from more than 170 countries and territories and about twenty international partners.

In 2016, the FAO and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) published the ‘E-Agriculture Strategy Guide: Piloted in Asia-Pacific Countries’. This toolkit provides countries with a framework to develop their national e-agriculture strategies, which should help rationalize both financial and human resources, as well as address ICT opportunities for the agricultural sector in a more efficient manner. On this page (e-Agriculture) you will find all information related to the use of the ‘E-Agriculture Strategy Guide’, the related workshops organized, and the progress made in different countries.