Category: blog contest selection
#Blog Entry: 1″ICT: A Gateway for Nepalese Agriculture Development”-Sharan Panthi

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.

#Blog Entry: 6″ICTs in Nepalese Agriculture”-Januka Dahal

The sun rises up , casting it’s red light stimulating the chlorophyll of green plant to make food for own and animal’s life . The calm cold breeze charged with the rays of wi-fi, radio and television waves and 3G networks gently roam caressing the every field and farmer. It’s a new morning, everything’s new, new information, new technology, new day, new plant, new production, new atmosphere and a new weather. All things are changing, agriculture is taking a further step toward modernization, most people are now aware of food security, food habit is changing and production somehow is in increasing trend with population growth. Many hectars can be planted within an hour, a piece of land can produce more quantity and more variety, production potential of plant is increased and people are producing wisely than labouredly. All this is made possible due to information, communication and technology.

Hymn of success and solution due to information, communication, and technology is deafening our ear. But it’s not true in all extent. Still a farmer in rural area wake up at 4.00 a.m early in the morning.  Yes! Many things are changed, his forehead shows cringes of wrinkles, his wife’s back’s stiffen because of drudgery. But his life remains same, he always follows same routine. He seems cavalier ignoring every change in world.  Just the thought roam around his head and heart in morning-” oh god, it’s late again, livestock already started bellowing with empty stomach, field needs of more drops of water, more pinch of fertilizer, plants lost identity in competition with weeds….blah blah” and all day he worship this mantra as if huttityau (kind of bird) hurried to bear load of escalating sky.

ICT in term and function is limited to the urban and relatively developed area but still the rural area which can produce higher and valuable are following traditional method of cultivation in lack of ICT, as a result production is not enough to feed desirous mouth and empty stomach. Farmers in that area are fully devoted to their business of   extreme ability not caring dark skin and cracked leg. A farmer becomes straight and forward to his job though his back bowed from extreme drudgery.  All he wants is, be merrier in Asar 15, celebrate carnival of harvesting golden panicles in Mangsir triumphantly and want to store for winter without any risk. Yes! This is all he wants because it’s his brain’s exposure limit due to lack of enough ICT. Farmer can’t recognize own skill, opportunity and capability in absence of ICT

May be he hear about combine harvester and hydroponics but it becomes ‘which bird name is it ?’ to him. For a remote taciturn farmer radio is his all world. He used it with the purpose of hearing news though he doesn’t understand. He heard that radio nepal casts krishi karyakram at 6.30 p.m. but he doesn’t have much time to waste in evening busy period. He swims in reverie of riotous production by utilizing this time for work. In spite of all his hard work his tension is growing double in day and triple in night.

A farmer is a researcher. Nowadays, He senses the different smell of soil but he doesn’t know the fact that soil nutrients depletes and poised due to haphazard use of chemical. He becomes dizzy and weak but he doesn’t know altered nutrient content due to unfavorable environment of plant. He is analyzing sacks doesn’t be full at harvest these days but he doesn’t know the exact reason behind it. Really, He is brimmed up by amazing sense blessed by experience.  So, this capacity must be boost up by information. He must realize his hideous strength through communication. He should get return of his sweat and blood by reducing drudgery and luxuriant production through technology. And his finding should be published in field and paper.

May be Nokia 1600 replaces android 2.5 but agriculture only modernize when a informant informs farmers about smart Krisi app. May be English is international language but farmer can’t understand unless information are disseminated in local language. May be farmer seems different types of plant, pathogen and insect in live, but his living standard only increase when he becomes able to detect its history on Google page. May be he is working on field but he doesn’t get adequate return unless he adopt appropriate cultural practices. May be he has miles of land he can’t produce a kg on it unless proper and modern technology applied on it.

If  agriculturist, farmers and ICT users put in mind above mentioned paragraph, agriculture will be modernize and if wave of 3G , Wi-Fi, radio and TV  utilized in field , production will be bumper up. Otherwise all things remain same.

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#Blog Entry: 7″ICTs in Nepalese Agriculture”-Anil Regmi

Agriculture, with the majority of the rural population in developing countries depending on it, is an important sector. According to a recent study by the UNDP, the potential of agricultural growth in reducing poverty is four times greater than the potential of growth from any other sector. Nepal is a country where 66% of the population are dependent on agriculture and yet, agro-products contribute to a mere 39% in GDP (Source: DOA website). What could be the cause for this bleak statistic? Labor drain; which could be identified as one of the major contributing causes it is a result of agriculture being unprofitable due to various reasons, but probably the greater cause of the situation is the inaccessibility of timely and good information related to healthy farming by the greater population of Nepal.

In developing countries in particular, facilitating the youth cohort’s participation in agriculture has the potential to check the widespread rural poverty among youths and adults alike. While these challenges are complex and interwoven, a number of key conclusions can be drawn from the case studies: ensuring that youth have access to the right information is crucial; modern information and communications technologies offer great potential. Indeed, a coordinated response to increasing youth’s involvement in the agricultural sector is more important than ever, as a rising global population and decreasing agricultural productivity gain mean that youth must play a pivotal role in ensuring a food-secure future for themselves, and for future generations.

The growing demand for agricultural products, however, also offers opportunities for producers to sustain and improve their livelihoods. Information and communication technologies (ICT) play an important role in addressing these challenges and uplifting the livelihoods of the rural poor.

The most obvious and cross-cutting way that ICT can improve agriculture is by improving access to information and making it less costly to obtain and adopt. In many rural areas, the arrival of mobile coverage is a radical change in the nature of the information ecosystem. Although simply having more information is not sufficient to make advantageous decisions (other resources may be needed), it is a necessary step toward equal access to knowledge.

Agriculture is a field that demands accuracy. A seed will only be suitable for a certain type of climate and a certain type of soil; it will only go well with a certain type of fertilizer and will have a specific time period for pesticides. There are also times of dilemma. For example, sometimes mushrooms take 21 days to sprout and at other times it takes even longer, causing the farmers plans to go astray. Platform for sharing information and addressing queries could be beneficial to clear such confusions.

The role of ICT to enhance food security and support rural livelihoods is increasingly recognized which includes the use of computers, internet, GIS, mobile phones, as well as traditional media such as radio or TV. Although it is a relatively new phenomenon, evidence of the contribution of ICT to agricultural development and poverty alleviation is becoming increasingly available.The trend of using mobiles for exchanging and sharing information on farming began with the practice of sending and receiving text messages.  Some government offices are already using SMS based information sharing platforms on their network. The SMS platform is efficient as, short messages, mobile application can be used to get/share large quantities of agro-information in a low cost. With network (voice and data) coverage of more than 90% across the country and smartphones are getting cheaper, we can expect more smartphone penetration among farmers (according totelecom providers, currently there are almost 4.5 million smartphone users in Nepal)

Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) and Agriculture Management Information System (AMIS), under the MoAD, among other governmental organizations, are working to increase the access of farmers to mobile applications. PACT has recently developed three different kinds of apps which allow field verification of sub-projects, monitoring and checking details of subsidized sub-projects via GPS in mobiles.

Agricultural apps like “Smart Krishi”, “KrishiGhar” and IFA Krishi are some of privately initiated projects for sharing information about farming technologies, livestock, pest, weather, market price and even interaction with prospective buyers. The most trending application with a considerable pool of information, Smart Krishi alone hauled in more than 7,500 users in the first 6 months of its launch. Smart Krishi has made it easier to get into agro-entrepreneurship by providing every relevant genuine information (from initial planning to post harvesting/storage techniques) about professional farming for free of cost.

Sharing information could solve a lot of issues for people involved in agriculture. The main advantage of ICT tools for agriculture is that we can reach targeted customers in a matter of minutes which is not quite possible with print media or any other sources.  Today, when genuine agro information is a mere fingertip away, why not use it?

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#Blog Entry: 11 “ICT: A Game Changer in Nepalese Agriculture”-Prashant Bhandari

The rate of commercialization in Agriculture in Nepal hasn’t propelled. I think the problem lies not in our ideas but our techniques, not in lack of market but lack of market information. Both of these problem that has been atrophying the growth of Agribusiness in Nepal as a glamorous enterprise, can be head on tackled by the use of ICT.

First of all the correct assessment of a farm business plan is a must. Far too often we see youths plunging into actions without realistic goals, appropriate scale and definite set of action plan. The use of ICT at this stage can mean all the difference between an enterprise taking off and falling flat. The information, success stories, production records and market demands can help the entrepreneur make a successful assessment of  his conditions, and that will help him set targets that he can achieve, choose  the production technique that suits his scale or the efficient changes that can be  made at his capital. This forms a solid bed to launch a farm business.

ICT in this regard not only enables him/her to choose a better production strategy but also allows to troubleshoot any problems that might occur during the production process and the communication, contacts made with people in similar works within and outside the country through SNS and internet will really be an important factor in the sustainability of the enterprise and hunting of new markets.

Once the desired production is achieved the focus lies on minimizing post-harvest loss and marketing. The amount of research that is currently being done under post-harvest loss fascinating. So with ICT they can regularly update their practice.

In the world of business nothing is asprecious as market information. And for far too long the market information has stayed with the businessmen and middlemen and the farmers have remained as price-takers, which probably is the chief reason why the majority of Nepalese farmers are poor. Now all that changes with the entry of ICT as farmers can search or even ask by telephone what the market value is and then decide the wholesale rates. This makes them immune from the middlemen of Nepalese markets who are notorious for ripping off huge chunks of profit out of Nepalese farmers. Of course the middlemen aren’t the evil beings that everyone make them to be, they are equally important forming the vital chain from fields to markets as farmer cannot effectively perform the dual role of production and distribution themselves. ICT empowers farmers thereby balancing the farmer-middlemen relationship. ICT can even enable these middlemen to effectively decide the fate of products they bought, by navigation of markets within and abroad through internet so as to fetch the highest price and advances in storage/transportation practices concern them equally.

Very often the use of ICT in Nepalese rural context had been passed down as joke as they believed that ICT is futile to the illiterate majority of rural Nepal but the recent advances on the mobile devices and the development of apps like Smart Krishiand its usefulness has proved them otherwise. Beside ICT doesn’t only mean high tech devices and navigating through English-internet pages, it could be as simple as a telephone conversation with a fellow farmer, extension worker or a specialist.

With the demand for foods ever rising and the farming getting easier, glamorous and profitable each day, now seems like the perfect time to start an Agro-enterprise with the power of ICT in the pocket.

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