Cleantech
ICT4Ag:
How Tech Is Helping to Empower Smallholder Farmers

Sustainability is the new key driver to innovation these days and ICTs play quite a pivotal and influential role in enhancing and boosting productivity of agricultural value chains that are responsible to uplift the process, smallholder farms in particular. E-agriculture has fast gained popularity since the rise of e-commerce, e-fashion, and e-detailing; practically everything has been transformed to apply to the digital world.

The initiative by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

This organization (CTA) has made constant and relentless efforts to uphold the rights of small-scale farmers and support young entrepreneurs and ICTs. In continuation of their efforts, a number of events were held in the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland - ICT4Ag 2016, a one-day conference in Washington DC on the 10th of June 2016, was another attempt to bring together highly professional sources and leaders in the agricultural industry. The main point of discussion was to bring into limelight bigger and better ideas to empower farmers who struggle to establish their firm footing in this field and create value by incorporating technology.

The problem statement

Small-scale farmers generally lack the necessary resources and facilities that can help them feed their families or build a viable business. Smallholders are wrought with some of the most complex dilemmas regarding farm equipment, available farm size, lack of funds, and unpredictable and inconsistent climatic changes, due to which soil quality is greatly hampered, and the never-ending competition leaves them at the mercy of nature.

However, synchronizing and aligning the various levels of the value chain can create immense benefits for smallholders as they are empowered with technology and have more knowledge about market trends and practices that can lead them to unprecedented heights. Having a continuous link with local markets and various incentives that can help them overcome these hurdles is a blessing in disguise.

Every business model has some serious concern or agenda working behind its initiation. The question-based approach adopted at ICTforAg 2016 was an attempt to bring the real challenges facing the small-scale farmers into the open and the challenging dilemmas that agriculture value chain stakeholders struggle with. Working on these levels of the value chain will automatically impact the end result and empower the youth beyond measure.

The purpose of ICTs for Agriculture

The main purpose behind promoting ICT for Agriculture is the income boom that it brings for small-scale producers and other related people in the agrifood sector. Youth are especially empowered with these high-tech solutions and are provided with dynamic job opportunities, decreasing the unemployment rate. Both the technological and economic aspects are catered to when leveraging this solution and hence is highly recommended. Agricultural entrepreneurship is boosted by accelerating ICT and a great number of creative young individuals have come to the forefront to adopt this technology.

The role of a viable business model in monetizing ICT services

Considering the plight of farmers who seem to be deprived of the basic resources to generate a decent stream of income is one thing; practically implementing a business model to alleviate their concerns is another. Several factors have to be taken into account while designing products and services that serve the farmers’ needs in an indispensable manner and also caters to the other background factors and other side value-chain members.

Another potential area of progress is digitizing the financial path and introducing value-chain payments that will allow farmers to convert the cash payments into m-money and/or digital platforms. Transactions are also driven by these technology-enabled solutions, which is a major source of income for financial organizations and mobile networking companies. It is not just one field that benefits from this; the entire process and mechanism are interlinked.

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