Leveraging ICT innovations to support farmers and farmers’ organisations
This policy brief (PDF) of CTA discusses policy actions needed to empower smallholder farmers to leverage information and communications technology (ICT) innovations for greater productivity and efficiency. The data revolution is helping us make better decisions in all areas of our lives, and farmers are no exception. However, the smallholder farmer is being left behind as more data applications are developed for commercial farming. What appears as a lack of interest in farming development may purely be a lack of resources, even where knowledge exists. The policy action needed include: 1) promote enabling environments and uptake of ICT solutions that respond to the needs of smallholder farmers; 2) strengthen the capacity of small-scale farmers to use ICTs; 3) improve the training and ICT proficiency of national extension agents; and 4) use ICTs to deliver data-driven products and services and develop associated business models that drive improved productivity, profitability and resilience of farmers. In the absence of functioning farmer organisations, ICT will not be able to generate the expected sustainable impact, and any benefits will entirely depend on external support to farmers with limited input from them and no value added through their efforts. Agricultural development, especially in Africa, needs to focus on the basics of organizing farmers as business entities and positioning them to take advantage if the ICT revolution.