ICTs can be very effective in delivering timely and applicable information to small-scale producers, even those living in remote areas.
Many individuals, local and international groups, and research institutes around the world gather information on agriculture. They all want to get their advice and information to farmers, who can then apply new techniques to improve production, increase income and achieve food security for their communities.
However, it can be difficult to ensure that farmers get accurate information that is relevant to their specific needs at the right time and in the right way. ICTs can be very effective in delivering timely and applicable information to small-scale producers, even those living in remote areas.
TECA is an internet-based platform for the documentation and exchange of agricultural technologies and practices. Developed by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the platform strengthens the link between researchers, extension officers and farmers by providing practical advice aimed specifically at helping small-scale producers.
TECA has two main features: Technologies & Practices and Exchange Groups, or online forums where producers can share their own advice and experiences. Both are accessible from the main content section of the homepage or from the left-hand sidebar.
Technologies & Practices
This section offers users the opportunity to search for information on a wide range of agricultural and related topics, including advice on growing techniques for many types of crops. It also gives details on marketing, livestock, forestry, fishing, and climate change adaptation.
To search for advice, click on ‘Technologies’ in the left sidebar or the link ‘find technologies & practices’ on the main page section.
A ‘Search & browse’ page opens allowing you to either browse by category or enter a keyword. The categories you can search include capacity development, disaster risk reduction, natural resource management and post-harvest marketing. Click on any of the categories to see the list of corresponding technologies.
For example, clicking on ‘capacity development’ opens a page showing a selection of available resources including ‘Beekeeping: How to make protective gear’, ‘Soil nutrient management in Uganda’ and ‘Strategies for improved soil and water conservation practices in hillside production systems’. Click on the titles to read the full details.
The technologies page also has a search field where users can enter keywords to find a specific technology or practice.
For example, entering the words ‘pest management maize’ produces a list of results matching the search terms, including ‘Integrated crop management of maize, beans and other smallholder crops in East Africa’ and ‘Growing soybean and maize in rotation’.
Click on the title of a technology, from either the categories section or the search function, to see a summary of the information, its source, and applicable countries. Click on ‘read’ to see the full details, or download a pdf file of the full technology which can be read offline, printed and distributed.
The page on ‘Growing soybean and maize in rotation’ shows that the information comes from Nkoola Institutional Development Associates, is relevant to Uganda, and offers a pdf for download with the full details. One piece of advice recommends that farmers ‘buy seed of improved soybean variety with good haulm and grain yield from a reliable seed company. 40–50 kg soybean seeds per hectare is required.’
Other technologies, such as ‘Rice transplanting’, bring the information in video format, which you can watch directly from the page.
The exchange groups are an important part of the TECA website. They are online forums where farmers, extension officers, researchers and anyone involved in agriculture can share experiences and ideas.
To participate, users first need to register. Click on ’Register’ in the sidebar, fill in the form with an e-mail address, password, and first and last name. Agree to the terms of the site, and enter the code to create a new account.
There are currently two exchange groups available: Beekeeping (also available in French and Spanish) and Uganda. You can specify on the registration form which you would like to participate in.
Click on the group name in the sidebar to view a summary of the group’s aims, related events, resources, news and a list of recent discussions.
For example, the Beekeeping Exchange Group has recently been discussing the role of beekeeping for development, and pollination services for sustainable agriculture. The events section mentions the ApiEcoTech Apimondia Symposium,which will be held in February 2012. And the ‘news’ section contains a report on a recent IFPRI survey on the potential of agricultural technologies. Among the resources are pdf files on basic and advanced beekeeping manuals, and bees and their role in forest livelihoods.
It is not necessary to register to view the entries; any visitor to the site can read the available information.