The agriculture and food security value chain system is known for its complexity with varied actors at various levels interacting among themselves and with their external environment to provide sustainable food security situation across the world. In this complex system, the key for success depends on how well the value chain actors collaborate and coordinate their activities throughout the entire process from research and development through production to consumption.
The agricultural value chain identifies a set of actors and their respective activities that are aimed at bringing basic agricultural product from research and development, through production in the field, marketing and value adding processing to the final consumer. Within the agricultural value chain, irrespective of the model of the chain, three key components can be identified. These are activities associated with – i) productivity (Research and Development (R&D), input manufacture and supply, production on the field); ii) marketing (transport and storage, processing, retail and wholesale); and iii) Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) (policy and traceability). Marking out these components allows for identification of the actors that work within these three main categories along the value chain.
Communication tools for coordination of roles
In a complex system like the agricultural value chain, coordination of roles is key as the actors collaborate to exchange resources. Successful coordination of role calls for appropriate communication approaches and media for smooth flow of resources from one stage to another and from one actor to the other. The importance of communication within the value chain is becoming clear especially with the surge to develop new and innovative information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agriculture and food security.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s new Global Broadband and Innovations (GBI) program with the mandate to focus the Agency’s attention and resources on leveraging the adoption of ICTs across its development portfolio has been exploring the role of the new technologies along the agricultural value chain for improved resource flow. Throughout our desk research, we have found that there are several discussions, and activities going on with the use of ICTs in agriculture and food security, and others specifically on value chain development. However, little is done to bring the two issues together.
The ICTs for Agriculture team at GBI has over the past few months been working to bring these two issues together to help identify what ICT solutions currently in the market are best fit for each stage of the agricultural value chain. The team has identified and selected over 125 ICT solutions (apps and projects) that apply to the various actors within the agricultural value chain, specifically for this initial stage of the project and has mapped out these tools along the chain.
This is an introduction to a 3-piece series that explains the role of ICTs within the three major stages of the agricultural value chain – Productivity, Marketing, & Monitoring and Evaluation. We’ll soon be launching a dynamic and interactive version of “Apps4Ag Database” project on March 9th during GBI’s TechTalk:Mapping ICTs Along the Ag Value Chain.