Agriculture is an important sector with majority of population in developing countries depending on it. Each and every people must consume agricultural product at least twice in a day. This sector has several challenges in the enhancement of production. The demand for agricultural products is growing day by day but the resource is scarce. Therefore it is necessary to increase the yield with limited resources. Declining soil fertility, climate change, water scarcity, quality seeds, market facilities, incidence of insects, pests and diseases, etc are some of the c major challenges. New approaches and technical innovations are required to cope with these challenges. Here, Information and Communication Technology plays an effective role to tact with these problems. ICT is the new or advanced technology that enables to form a network and circulate message globally. It keeps the whole world connected.
Last year when I was studying in my 1st semester, my mum told me that we are having problem of caterpillars in our beans and slugs in the kitchen garden. Then wasting no more second, I surfed internet. There I got chance to learn about different caterpillars like corn earworms, cabbage loopers, cutworms etc. that affect different crops. Soon the remedy was sought out. Handpicking, spraying foliage with neem oil, dusting Bt-powder were the easy methods. As soon as mum knew about that, she was amazed with the technology. Then she said “उपायखल्तीमैपोरेछत” (solution was in my pocket).
The use of ICT in agriculture range from advanced modern technologies like GPS navigation, satellite communication, wireless connectivity, cloud computing, etc to the older technologies like radio, television, newspapers etc.In our country Nepal, people largely use radio, television and mobile phones. Many research works are performed and new practices and technologies have been made in different parts of the country by researchers which need to be transferred to farmers living in different corners. In this situation ICT help to circulate the reliable and up-to-date information. ICT plays an important role as an extension media. Through the use of internet people can get remedies to their problem in no time
The availability of these communication sources can help to save lot oftime. Through medias like radio , television, mobileseven people living in remote areas can know about the new ideas, practices, technologies and solution to their problems of different insects, diseases, soil fertility, etc. People don’t have to reach help centers for such information.ICT can greatly influence the agriculture sector. If people know to use it efficiently there can be rapid development in production which can aid in raising country`s economy and trade. Therefore, through ICT there must be strong linkage between farmers, government, business sectors, institution, local suppliers and NGOs which work for agricultural benefit and ordinary citizens/farmers for the continuous flow of information
How does ICT positively influence agriculture??
We discussed that ICT influences agriculture, through ICT we can aid farmers and increase production. Following are some reasons.
- Reduction of information gathering cost: With ICTs people can just make a phone call or check internet to find what they need. There is no problem of long distance travel in case of remote areas.
- Improvement in market access: Farmers are aware about the current market status on input, prices and consumers trend through mobiles, websites, etc
- Production optimization: ICTs has helped enhance production by providing information about pests, diseases, especially early warning system, new varieties, etc
- ICT has enabled the broader and richer interaction among the farmers.
- Gap between the researchers and farmers is bridged.
- Agricultural producers have direct contact with the potential buyers which let them bypass the brokers.
ICTs have helped to upgrade the standard of agriculture through every possible ways. In developed countries advancement has been brought in the field of agriculture through ICTs. It supports new methods of precision agriculture like computerized farm machineries that applies fertilizers and pesticides, feeding and monitoring of farm animals by electronic sensors, etc. online buying and selling is also growing.
But ICT is no god with only positive aspects. It sure has some negative impacts as well.
- All people can`t have access to newspaper, journals, internet service.
- Sometimes wrong information may flow to the reader through unauthorized sources which may hamper the production.
- Many Nepalese are below the literacy line, so those where educated members are abroad or in city, language may be the problem.
- The waves of electronic media isn’t eco friendly
Success is not derived automatically by connecting ICT with agriculture. Successes are possible but the programs must be designed and implemented with care. Therefore it is necessary to make a careful planning from government and private sectors. In our country challenges of ICT are:-
- Awareness raising and trainings should be given about the importance and use of ICT.
- The infrastructures for information and communication should be improved.
- Services should be cheaper.
- Web based storage of agricultural information should be increased.
- Relevant and timely information should be made available in appropriate formats so that all people can use it effectively.
In summary, ICT is a wide field which connects all the people together living in different corners of the world. It provides opportunities to the people for collection storing, using and sharing of information. It is a valuable tool for upgrading the level of not only agriculture but all sectors. Therefore farmers and other related sectors (agriculture input providing industry, industries dealing with output, institutions and NGOs working for benefit of agriculture, agricultural universities, and research centers) must make the effective use of ICTs for agricultural development.