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Improving farmers' business practices

Improving farmers' business practices

In October 2013, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) put out a call for papers, case studies and synthesis papers. The purpose of the call was to publish and disseminate experiences and success stories in ACP countries - or experiences and success stories that were relevant to ACP countries - that can inspire the rejuvenation of smallholder agriculture there.

The call was broken down into three subject categories:

  • Success stories of die adoption of ICTs for agriculture at the community level.
  • The extent of ICT adoption by ACP farmers.
  • Success stories of adopting innovative alternative energy systems to an off-grid village environment.

CTA received 44 papers in response to the call. In November and December 2013, the papers were reviewed by an evaluation committee. The three criteria used were quality of writing and readiness for publication, completeness of paper in terms of subject matter, and level of detail and hard information. Of these 44 papers, 34 were selected, and later this year CTA will publish them on its website.

As a prelude to the publication of these articles, ICT Update has chosen several of the selected papers and condensed them into articles. The dioice has fallen on those papers that deal with the themes of the next two issues of the magazine. This issue, no. 77, explores how mobile applications have helped smallholder farmers improve their commercial fanning practices and their access to information and markets. The theme of the next issue, no. 78, is family farming to support the international year of family farming.

The theme of using ICTs, and mobile applications in particular, to improve smallholders’ business practices and access to key markets also ties in with the Fin4Ag conference being held in Nairobi, Kenya from 14-18 July 2014. There have been significant innovations in finance in some countries in recent years, but these have been slow to spread across borders and institutions. Indeed, agricultural finance institutions, and the policies, rules and regulations under which they operate, are lagging behind changes in the ‘real economy’. Speakers at the conference will explore ways in which decision makers in farmers’ organisations, financial institutions, government bodies and other institutions interested in agricultural finance can reinvent their business models instead of trying to improve on existing ones.

Building on the success of the Plug £t Play day at the ICT4Ag conference in Kigali, Rwanda in November 2013, the Fin4Ag conference will host a similar event, this time featuring innovations in digital financial services for agriculture. The Plug a Play sessions are designed to allow demonstrators to share then skills and expertise in an interactive format, learn with participants who may be interested in these tools, and enable participants to have a hands-on experience.

This issue of ICT Update is devoting five pages to the 15 innovations chosen for the Plug a Play day. The innovations include web-based applications such as FarmDrive, which help farmers to electronically maintain revenue and expense records and a-Where, a platform that provides data for climate-smart agriculture, food security and agricultural finance. Arid finally this issue’s ‘TechTalk’ column features the founder of a digital agricultural commodity exchange in Uganda, and we continue with ‘Young voices’, Imarah Radix’s experience at a ‘training for trainers’ workshop for young agricultural extension workers in Saint Lucia.

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In October 2013, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) put out a call for papers, case studies and synthesis papers. The purpose of the call was to publish and disseminate experiences and success stories in ACP countries - or experiences and success stories that were relevant to ACP countries - that can inspire the rejuvenation of smallholder agriculture there.

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