Feeding the ever increasing population is not an easy task as we commonly think. Population growth, urbanization, loss of fertile lands, desertification, climate change etc are continuously forcing towards poor agricultural production and food insecurity. Agriculture is an important sector of Nepal with the majority of the rural population depending on it. Its importance in Nepal can be noted from 35 percent of its contribution in GDP and 65 percent of population dependent upon it. The sector faces major challenges of enhancing production in a situation of dwindling natural resources necessary for production. The growing demand for agricultural products, however, also offers opportunities for producers to sustain and improve their livelihoods. The agricultural sector is confronted with the major challenge of increasing production to feed a growing and increasingly prosperous population in a situation of decreasing availability of natural resources. New approaches and technical innovations are required to cope with these challenges and to enhance the livelihoods of the rural population.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) play an important role in addressing these challenges and uplifting the livelihoods of the rural poor. Information and communication technologies(ICT) is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them. Use of radio was preliminary ICT tool used for the communication of information among the country. However with the advancement of technology ICT tools also revolutionized to form many more creations of ICT tools and applications. To know the importance of ICT in Nepalese agriculture development, we should know the importance of information, idea or knowledge for successful agriculture. Appropriate knowledge and information is the base of foundation of agricultural development. Science is gaining new information day by day by doing researches and with those developed theories technologies are designed to suit a particular situation. Those invented knowledge and technologies will have no value until they are not with those people, for whom they were designed. For example, In Nepalese condition there is a huge gap of yield of crops in research station and farmers field, this is mainly due to poor extension services. Extension services are not taking pace with the time. Time has brought many changes in world and Nepal is also a part. At this time, most of the population of Nepal is now touched with mobile phones and almost all of literate ones are using social media (mainly facebook) for communication. Few years back in rural areas, Radio was only source of information but now there is coverage of mobile with internet service in most of areas. Television coverage is also increasing day by day in remote areas also.
There are lots of examples of roles played by ICT in our condition. Progressive farmers are using social media, communicating with each other in the matter of agriculture. There are lots of groups and pages in facebook created by farmers and technical persons (For eg: Krishi bikas prawidhi ra uddham ka lagi sahakarya) where discussions regarding agricultural problems, marketing informations etc takes place. These discussions matters great because government agriculture extension system is not efficient in Nepal and people are deprived of information. At least, progressive farmers are getting information about what they want to know. There are some applications designed for transfer of knowledge about scientific cultivation practices to the farmers like Krishi ghar.
This era is a period of great technological advancement, and new tools and applications of ICT are emerging day by day. Government of Nepal should focus on how we can utilize these tools efficiently for the development of Nepal and agriculture is a major sector. Any time we say that agriculture is the main sector for the development of Nepal but, we are not utilizing our resources in a productive way. These mobile phones and social media we used today should be helpful to our agriculture. More and more applications should be designed and enhanced to meet the requirements of different farming communities. Farmers should be trained about the use of mobile phones and internet for the modernization of agriculture system. Every village should be connected with internet with cheap cost so that farmers can afford it. Agri-call center should be established in each district to support farmers, and its proper functioning is more important than establishment. Farmers will not adopt a new technology until he/she believe in that. With the help of ICT tools flow of detail information about that technology, success stories, cost required etc can be done in more effective way. Forecasting of weather, insect pests and diseases attack to crops is very important for saving huge crop losses due to those unfavorable conditions and ICT can play great role on it. ICT helps not only to transfer knowledge and technology from research stations to farmers but it is equally effective for knowing the feedback of farmers towards that technology, so that scientists can know the actual problem of farmers field and what must be modified in that recommended technology.
Hence, we can say that application of ICT is crucial for the development of Nepalese agriculture. Government and different National and International Organizations working here should focus on development of ICT sector and its application for agriculture development and ultimately for food security. Only policies will have no impact, successful implementation is more important.