Integrating information communication technologies (ICTs) into agriculture is still a challenge, especially at the farm level in most developing countries. While the potentials of ICTs in improving access to agricultural information for these smallholder farmers is huge, the impact of the technologies on the productivity and living conditions of farmers is yet to be realized.
The task, therefore, for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Agricultural Value Added Service (Agri VAS) providers in their efforts to develop commercially viable, sustainable and scalable models that will facilitate information delivery to farmers, is still far from achieving.
This is why the e-Krishok project in Bangladesh is being praised for its innovative approach. Developing from a successful pilot phase in 2008, e-Krishok has just launched its nationwide scaling up initiative to bring information and other services to rural Bangladesh. e-Krishok is a promotional campaign in motivating farmers to use information and advisory services of a Grameen Phone Community Information Center (GPCIC). Supported by Katalyst Bangladesh, a pro-poor market development project funded by a donor consortium of DFID, SDC, CIDA, ACI and Royal Dutch Embassy, the campaign is being implemented by Bangladesh Institute of ICT in Development (BIID).
The campaign promotes information and advisory services targeted at farmers in enabling them to address their agricultural problems and constrains to improve farm productivity. The Information and advisory service at GPCIC works through an Internet enabled process in which an agricultural information repository, ruralinfobd is at the heart of the service delivery mechanism. Also added to the platform is a link to direct consultation with agriculturists through e-mail. Farmers are not required to interact directly with the technical interface.
A farmer is encouraged to go to any Community Information Center (CIC) whenever they have a specific problem issue. The operator (entrepreneur) at the CIC browses through the web portal to locate solution to the problem presented by the farmer. In case the solution is not immediately available at the web site, a query is forwarded to specific email address that is used and maintained jointly by BIID, and an assigned agriculturist replies to the queries on daily basis.
Read more on e-Krishok.