Global development bodies team up on ICT initiative for agriculture

A Kenyan farmer uses a mobile phone in the field.
A Kenyan farmer uses a mobile phone in the field.
Neil Palmer, CIAT

Three international development institutions are working together to design an information and communications technology (ICT) platform for agricultural development in line with the G20’s latest call to facilitate sustainable agricultural development during its meeting in Hangzhou, China (4-5 September 2016).

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) are currently undertaking an assessment of:

  • ICT cellular applications for farmers;
  • non-cellular ICT applications and existing platforms;
  •  policy implications relating to governance and regulation; and
  • potential mechanisms for scaling up.

The platform being designed will build upon IFPRI’s 2014 assessment of the effects of ICTs on agricultural development. The review found that access to mobile phones has generally improved agricultural market performance at the macro level but that impacts at the micro level are mixed.

The rollout of extension programs through ICTs is still at an early stage, with minimal research conducted to date with regard to these programs’ impact.

“Both connectivity and content need to progress simultaneously to witness positive gains, requiring sustained investment by both the public and private sector,” Maximo Torero, IFPRI director for markets, trade and institutions, tells SciDev.Net.

A woman farmer receiving mobile money on her phone at USAID mSTAR workshop.
A woman farmer receiving mobile money on her phone at USAID mSTAR workshop.
Sayma Islam, WorldFish

Food security, nutrition, sustainable ag growth continuing G20 priorities

Following two days of meetings, the G20 leaders issued a communiqué stating that the world’s 20 largest economies will “continue to prioritise its work on food security, nutrition, sustainable agricultural growth and rural development as a significant contribution to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

This follows the third G20 agriculture ministers meeting in Xi’an, China (3 June 2016), which issued its own communiqué. The first agriculture ministers meeting was held in 2011 in Paris to discuss food price volatility and the second in 2015 in Istanbul to discuss food loss and waste.

“Communiqués are not directly ‘comparable’ but they ensure continuity in the G20’s actions in the area of food and agriculture,” Boubaker Ben-Belhassen, director of FAO’s trade and markets division, tells SciDev.Net. “They all take stock of current issues and identify common ground for the way forward.”

 

Three weather stations set up by USAID's Morocco Economic Competitiveness program gather yesterday's data automatically, distributing info via text to participants re how much to water crops.
Three weather stations set up by USAID's Morocco Economic Competitiveness program gather yesterday's data automatically, distributing info via text to participants re how much to water crops.
Three weather stations set up by USAID's Morocco Economic Competitiveness program gather yesterday's data automatically, distributing info via text to participants re how much to water crops.

For the first time, the G20 agriculture ministers agreed in Xi’an to convene “regular” meetings but have yet to offer a schedule. “Considering that G20 countries represent 65 percent of all agricultural land, 77 percent of global cereal production and 80 percent of world trade in agricultural products, this decision can have remarkable impact over the coming years,” says Ben-Belhassen.

Both Ben-Belhassen and Torero agree that the latest agriculture communiqué is comprehensive in terms of what has been agreed to. But Torero says it’s important to include a monitoring system to track all the initiatives that have started since the first agriculture ministers meeting.

“This monitoring mechanism will allow to assure accountability and to measure progress in the different initiatives,” he adds.

This story was produced by SciDev.Net’s South-East Asia & Pacific desk.

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This article has been republished courtesy of SciDev.Net under its Creative Commons attribution license. Find the original article here. 

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