Major Agricultural Information Initiatives: With Emphasis on Developing Country Services
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The purpose of this background paper on major agricultural information systems is not only to provide an overview of the wide variety of online agriculture-related content delivery services, but an understanding of the ongoing initiatives to bring continuity to an increasingly fragmented and sometimes duplicative information environment. While the revolution in information and communications technologies has made it possible to store and provide access to massive amounts of information, data, and targeted resources on a real-time basis, it has also considerably widened the playing field of participants in this process. What was once the domain of a handful of organizations is now a complex arena of stakeholders who are grappling with the complicated issues that affect the development of collaborative, multifaceted knowledge systems. At the same time, innovations, including Web 2.0 applications and rural information kiosks (World Bank 2007) as well as re-purposed traditional technologies such at radio and mobile phones, now make it possible to incorporate local knowledge directly into information services and to begin closing the digital divide that has limited the benefits of scientific advancements for farmers and rural communities in developing countries (Rao 2001; FAO 2004c; FAO 2005c; ITU 2007). That the intentions of the service providers have been virtuous and focused ultimately on improving livelihoods throughout the world is not in question; however, the reality of multiple organizations with similar missions and widely varying resource allocations has at times led to a climate of competition that has made it difficult to reach desired outcomes. In spite of these challenges, this paper will demonstrate a convergence of areas where progress has been made and where technical innovations may contribute to further progress in meeting the needs of the smallholder farmer in the future.
WorldAgInfo Project Literature Review
World Ag Info Project
Information Systems; Agriculture; ICT; Agricultural Development; International Development; Agricultural Education