The organisers of the ICT4Ag conference have designed the event to be highly interactive. It kicks off on Monday 4 November with a Plug & Play day, which will showcase the latest technological innovations in the field of ICTs for agriculture. Participants will be given the opportunity to try out the latest mobile applications, Web 2.0 and social media tools, and discover how they can make these tools work for them in their agricultural activities. The pages Plug & Play in this issue (see pages 10, 16 and 22) is a selection from that day’s demonstrations.The main conference will take place from Tuesday 5 to Thursday 7 November. The presentations are divided into three streams:
- Stream 1: Emerging innovations in ICTs supporting agricultural rural development;
- Stream 2: Capacity strengthening and stakeholder empowerment for improved livelihood and engagement in ARD and related agricultural processes; and
- Stream 3: Enabling environments for the agricultural sector to maximise the benefits from ICTs.
To give readers an idea of what to expect at the conference, this issue of ICT Update features three two-page articles by each of the three stream organisers (see pages 6, 12, 18). The authors briefly describe the specific theme of their stream and what they hope to accomplish in it. Each of the conference streams, in turn, features a number of sessions. The session formats vary widely, from traditional presentations to world cafés and fishbowl sessions to market stalls and booths, workshops and field trips. Each stream article is followed by a one-page interview (Q&A) with a session organiser in that particular stream (see pages 9, 15 and 21). The sessions topics include the mobile money revolution, women’s access to ICTs and broadband strategies.
The ICT4Ag conference organisers received an overwhelming number of submissions from interested parties working in the field of ICT4Ag. Unfortunately, time constraints in the conference schedule meant that many of these interesting proposals did not make it onto the programme.
Following each stream article and session Q&A, therefore, are two pages briefly summarising a selection from the over three hundred submissions (see pages 8 and 11, 14 and 17, and 20 and 23).
If this issue of ICT Update is a ‘pre-conference’ edition, then the next issue, number 75, can be described as a ‘post-conference’ one. It too will be completely devoted to the conference in Kigali. Among other things it will review the conference proceedings and feature articles based on interviews with the three stream organisers to find out whether their expectations were met and what lessons have been learnt.
For those unable to attend the conference, ICT Update will be running a conference blog so all interested parties can follow proceedings as they unfold.
In this issue
CTA uses the conference to showcase how ICTs are empowering agricultural producers, processors, traders. This issue presents an overview of ICT applications in agriculture on the occasion of the CTA-sponsored conference on ICT4Ag held in Kigali, Rwanda on 4–8 November 2013.
by Saskia Harmsen and Espérance Mukarugwiza
ICTs are powerful tools for accessing information, facilitating communication, improving decision making and improving the outreach development programmes. However, to achieve their full potential impact ICT solutions need to be integrated into daily operations.
by Ifidon Ohiomoba
ACP agriculture is yet to benefit fully from the potential of ICTs. New approaches are needed to ensure the systematic use of ICT solutions, and to create an enabling environment in which ICTs could enhance the impact of agricultural development programmes.
Overview of the presentations at the plenary sessions of the International ICT4Ag Conference in November 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda
by Benjamin Addom and David Rurangirwa
The conference will help to address the ‘inclusive’ component of ICT4Ag, or the idea that no one will be left out. It is imperative that emerging innovations support rather than exclude stakeholders in the agricultural sector.
by Eric White
Interview with Eric White, managing associate and lead economist at Integra LLC, a Washington DC based international development firm specialising in ICT policy and applications. The firm implements USAID’s Global Broadband and Innovations programme.
by Lee H. Babcock
Interview with By Lee Babcock, managing director of the mobile strategy unit at ACDI/VOCA, an economic development organisation based in Washington, DC in the United States. ACDI/VOCA is dedicated to promoting economic opportunities for cooperatives, enterprises and communities through the innovative application of sound business practice.
by Dorothy Okello
Interview with Dorothy Okello, senior lecturer with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. She is the founder the WOUGNET, the Women of Uganda Network. Established in 2000, the network’s mission is to promote and support the use of ICTs by women and women organisations in Uganda.
This issue of ICT Update is completely devoted to the ICT4Agconference being held between 4–8 November 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda. The conference hopes to be a milestone in promoting the application of ICTs in the agricultural sector with particular emphasis on inclusive value chains, enabling policies and advancing innovation.