Whether it be browsing through courses related to food security or soil in futurelearn, searching related courses in MIT opencourseware, listening to BBC farming today; the trend in every sector has undoubtedly changed in these decades and is yet to change in coming years including agriculture.With cell phones, and androids with well equipped farmers, the apps, let us not forget televisions, radios; more importantly, farmers can get connected with professional and be informed. In this finite world with infinite boundaries of internet and above all sharing the valuable information, knowledge and initiative ideas are the key towards development in any sector. Nepal, yet to be developing country, with ICT, can enter in immediate prospect of development in coming days.
Significant development in ICT in Nepal predates back to 1950s with the commencement of ‘’Radio Nepal’’ in 1951. Since then, agricultural programs in ‘’Radio Nepal’’ and ‘’Nepal Television’’ in the evening (6:40 – 6:55) was the good start, and it still continues today. The first important step of ICT in Nepal is its use in collection of data, its analysis and interpretation, and sharing with people. Journal such as Krishi Diaryfrom Ministry of Agricultural Development, a toll-free number to seek professional advice and various other steps in the field from government are praiseworthy. BBC Nepali’s program on successful farmers on every Tuesday is good and listenable. The talk on different issues about agriculture in Sajha Sawal, considering it as national issue is very appreciative. Furthermore, the winners of Ncell App Camp 2014,‘’ICT for Agriculture’’ proves the ICT in agriculture still to be best and interesting topic in Nepal. Recently, free mobile SMS system on meteorology for farmers is in its last stages of development.
In contrast, not even half of the population has complete access to internet, although there has been increase in cell phone users in Nepal. And, even with increase in smart phone users, ICT cannot be considered reachable in rural areas as only cities such as Kathmandu brags the recent development in it. With more than, thirty independent television channels and four hundred FM radio stations, but not singly developing special programs just focused on agriculture or any channel dedicated for agriculture is a disgraceful waste. Few agro news portal such as halokhabar.com are still to be popular as mainstream. Agro journalism is still in early stages in Nepal and news on agriculture just in few columns of magazines and newspapers are still not enough. Moreover, agriculture institutes such as TU/IAAS Lamjung Campus, Sundarbazar, not yet equipped with e-libraries and other IT related tools still questions what the future scientists would be like.
In addition, facebook groups and pages are somehow popular for people to share different views and opinions in recent incidents in agriculture. The behavior of agricultural minister washeavily criticized in social media including twitter. However, no proper or popular hashtags for Nepalese agriculture in social media is still unsatisfactory. Development of different applications in agriculture for smart phones still makes it unclear how it is helping people from different backgrounds and how many people are actually benefitted. And, it is still uncertain, if only certain people are rejoicing about apps or farmers are actually helped or they are far behind in this whole process. Still to be clear, all farmers from rural areas may not have androids and i-phones in their hand; to say they are benefited from these things is not credible. Nevertheless, SMS system, radio and television programs, free phone calls with agro technicians are sure to help farmers.
Agricultural development is possible in Nepal only when ICT fully understands phases of agriculture in Nepal. Office automation, using of different tools such as computer, and wireless technologies in NGOs and INGOs working in agriculture and rural development is a necessity for better service in Nepal. Use of Global Positioning System (geo-fencing, map-making, surveying), geographic information system, computer controlled devices (such as automated milking), computer aided manufacturing, designs and RFID in livestock production seem relatively new for Nepalese agriculture and are still left to be explored.
ICT should be synchronous with local farmers all over the country. Another aspect is, it should keep on motivating farmers, connecting farmers with farmers, technicians with farmers, farmers with government and agriculture with all over the country. Let, aspects of ICT in Nepalese agriculture not only be the way of filling never ending bellies of white-collar workers and the gossip of big-headed people as usually happens in the country. Nepal has yet to find the full potential in agriculture and yet to discover agricultural context with ICT.