ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications. It is similar to Information Technology (IT), but focuses primarily on communication technologies. This includes the Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, and other communication mediums.
In the past few decades, information and communication technologies have provided society with a vast array of new communication capabilities. For example, people can communicate in real-time with others in different countries using technologies such as instant messaging, voice over IP (VoIP), and video-conferencing. Social networking websites like Facebook allow users from all over the world to remain in contact and communicate on a regular basis.
Modern information and communication technologies have created a “global village,” in which people can communicate with others across the world as if they were living next door. For this reason, ICT is often studied in the context of how modern communication technologies affect society.
ICT has created unprecedented linkages between public and private institutions, governments, citizens and corporations. ICTs improve land management (e.g. soils) and land use planning Among the various ICT, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) techniques represent two key tools for land planning and management. GIS offers the opportunity to gather multiple layers of information, drawn from different sources, into one spatial representation. This can be particularly
Using ICT to make farming practices more environmentally sustainable. In many developing countries, farmers determine fertilizer usage, with retailers (input sellers) typically playing an important role. Studies and practical field experience show that farmers do not often use the proper dose and chemical type due to lack of appropriate knowledge and other reasons, which in turn leads to increased production costs as well as harm to human health and the environment. One ICT-based solution to this problem. The Fertilizer Recommendation Solution (FRS) is an online tool that guides farmers to know the right dose and type of fertilizer to be used for a specific location and crop. Farmers can also receive a printout of their diagnostics at a local tele center or information center. Beyond nutrient management, there remains a great need for innovation in the use of ICT for the management of agriculture’s impact on the environment, including water. Integrating the power of ICT into irrigation management is a high priority need in this area. While promising, the use of ICT to make farming more environmentally sustainable faces many challenges. The FRS experience demonstrated that raising awareness of these services and their benefits amongst small farmers is a significant challenge to overcome. Once awareness is achieved, then trust and liability (i.e. what if the information used leads to an adverse result?) become critical.
The challenges that face any agricultural activity involving the use of ICT, such as poor connectivity, low bandwidth, limited electricity, high mobile service costs, user-based/need driven information, are the same facing the potential of ICT to make agriculture more environmentally sustainable. These challenges can be at least partially overcome by service providers that develop reliable rural connectivity, alternative power resources for electricity, and by involving the relevant client groups to define what types of information and knowledge will be useful to them from the onset. Importantly, messages need to be tailored to particular contexts in order to be appropriate and have value to farmers. Integrating local data collectors into the design phase will help to ensure this value. It is also important to share the limitations of these technologies with farmers. For example, adopting the information on good farming practices received through mobile phones will not lead to better yields if the farmer uses bad seed. Social issues, such as women’s access to the technology, must also be considered
Mobile technology to get climate-smart agricultural information to/from farmers There is great potential for mobile information services to push information on climate-smart agriculture to farmers and other actors in the agricultural value chain. The ability to collect large amounts of sensor data (e.g. remote soil sensors) with mobile technology has the potential to provide information that leads to new climate-smart solutions. Mobile technology creates the opportunity for farmers to become data collectors at a local level. This makes it possible to obtain real time feedback and spot trends such as the movement of pests, which could in turn be used to alert other farmers. Before this can succeed in scale, correct incentives for farmers’ participation need to be identified. Incentives could include the use of toll free SMS numbers, access to privileged information, heightened perceived status, gains in mobile talk-time for reliable contributions, among others.