The e-Agriculture Community of Practice
(Image credit: FAO brochure e-Agriculture)
This blog post presents e-Agriculture - a global Community of Practice, where people from all over the world exchange information, ideas, and resources related to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for sustainable agriculture and rural development.
“E-agriculture, or ICTs in agriculture, is about designing, developing and applying innovative ways to use ICTs with a primary focus on agriculture. Setting in place a national e-agriculture strategy is an essential first step for any country planning on using ICTs for agriculture” (FAO-ITU, E-agriculture Solutions Forum, 2016).
In 2007, in collaboration with 13 founding partners, FAO launched the e-Agriculture Community of Practice, where people from all over the world exchange information, ideas, and resources related to the use of ICT for sustainable agriculture and rural development.
With over 14,000 members from 170 countries and territories, the e-Agriculture Community is made up of individual stakeholders such as information and communication specialists, researchers, farmers, students, policy makers, business people, development practitioners, and others. The e-Agriculture members have a common interest: improving policies and processes around the use of ICT in support of agriculture and rural development, in order to have a positive impact on rural livelihoods.
During the year 2016, two new pages were created on the e-Agriculture online platform:
- An Audiovisual Page (radio and video communications) was created both to respond to emerging trends based on use of ICTs to share experiences and good practices and to inform a large audience (including illiterate people) about initiatives and projects in agricultural and rural development. An audiovisual material can describe and illustrate a good practice and transfer information in a very effective way, showing step-by-step what the experience is about.
- A specific page was alto created to feature ICT Update, a bimonthly printed bulletin, a web magazine, and an accompanying email newsletter and mobile website focusing on ICTs for agricultural development. ICT Update is published by one of the founding partners of e-Agriculture, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP–EU (CTA).
e-Agriculture and ICT Update work together to be able to collect and share even more ICT4Ag information. Through the ICT Update page you will be able to gain access to all of the ICT4Ag news.
e-Agriculture is also one of the Action Lines identified in the Geneva Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).
During the WSIS Forum 2016, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations organized a joint session with Action Line C7: E-Health + E-Agriculture entitled “ICT and Nutrition: Federating actions towards eradication of hunger and food insecurity (SDG2) and healthy lives and wellbeing for all (SDG3)”.
The session focused on the inter-linkages that exist among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the different WSIS Action Lines in their support to the implementation of the SDGs. The session discussed the potential of ICT as a cross-cutting enabler to address the multifaceted nature of nutrition and how ICTs can federate actions by addressing multiple interlinked goals.
# The session is documented in the WSIS Forum 2016 outcome document (497 pages).
The facilitators of the Action Line C7 also participated in several other sessions as well as in the United Nations Group on the Information Society (UNGIS) and Action-Line facilitators meeting.
The 2016 WSIS Project Prize was awarded to the Harmonized Information of Agriculture, Revenue and Irrigation for a Transformation Agenda- Precision Technology for Agriculture Initiative (HARITA-PRIYA) in India. The 2016 WSIS Prize Champions were awarded to:
- the FAO initiated the Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) Programme that serves Somali government institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), development agencies and UN bodies engaged in assisting Somali communities whose lives and livelihoods depend directly on water and land resources;
- Krishoker Janala (Farmer's Window) project in Bangladesh: an inexpensive-to-build and inexpensive-to-operate, user-centric, indigenous innovation, in order to combat certain challenges in the agricultural domain;
- City-to-Farm Agriculture Assisting launched by Advanced Info Services (AIS) of Thailand: a service designed to create a sustainable agriculture economy through collaboration between agriculturists, consumers and governments using appropriate technologies;
- Increasing Food Production through ICT Research and Development project - implemented by the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago - is focused on the agricultural sector and addresses two major problems: the lack of data at the farm and national levels and the lack of ICT tools for farmers and policy-makers.
During the course of 2016, many important developments took place regarding the national e-agriculture strategies. FAO and ITU published the national e-agriculture strategy guide and toolkit and are now working on the second phase developing the solutions and services. Fiji and Papua New Guinea are in advanced stages of finalizing their e-agriculture strategy and the Philippines and Vanautu have also started the process over the course of 2016.
In June 2016, the Expert Consultation on e-Government aspects of national e-Agriculture strategies for sustainable family farming, organized by FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and GAK in Hungary (at Gödöllö Agricultural University) brought together decision makers and agricultural information management experts from Eastern Europe and Central Asia to discuss current initiatives at national level. Participants clarified their own countries concepts and needs to implement a national e-agriculture strategy.
In August 2016, FAO and ITU organized a three-day E-agriculture Solutions Forum in Thailand followed by a two-day training of trainers on the development of national e-agriculture strategies in September 2016. The forum brought together 120 participants from 29 countries, including a large number of solutions providers, academia, research institutes and governments to share their expertise and solutions for e-agriculture.
In the margin of this event, an informal consultation was organized with a number of participants to gauge and explore means to facilitate sharing of expertise between private sector, academia, research institutes and countries that are just about to implement their strategies in order not to reinvent the wheel and to build on lessons learned from others. As an outcome of the consultation an informal group of experts was set up (IE4E-ag).
In December 2016, a Regional Central Asia and the Caucasus consultation on e-Agriculture for Research and Extension was organized by the FAO and the Central Asian and Southern Caucasus Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (CACAARI) in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, to understand the framework to develop a national e-Agriculture vision and be able to develop a national e-Agriculture strategy.
Our sincerest thanks for this contribution to:
A consultant of the Knowledge Outreach Team in the Office for Partnerships and Communications
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Why become an e-Agriculture Community member?
To join a network of over 14,000 members from over 170 countries - the largest and most diverse interactive network related to the impact of ICTs on Agriculture or Rural Development.
To stay on top of the latest issues related to the field, and receive early notifications of news, conferences, events, and important resources.
To participate in global discussions, learn from others, and share your own knowledge with the rest of the Community.
To directly connect with other members of this global Community.
To date the e-Agriculture has:
- 14676 registered members
- 1083 Knowledge Base resources
- 2460 news and 669 events
- 189 blogs
- 571 discussion posts
- E-agriculture Strategy Guide brochure (e-Agriculture)
- ICT – Powering Behavior Change for a Brighter Agricultural Future (e-Agriculture)
- The world needs agricultural data (e-Agriculture)
- Guidebook for Online Facilitators: Sharing experiences from climate change and agriculture communities of practice (FAO)
The FAO and e-Agriculture have recently supported an online forum discussion on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Resilience. Click here to access the forum page