ICRISAT calls for use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for empowering farmers

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) has immense potential in empowering farming communities, and it should be put to greater use by the agricultural research and extension institutions.

The need for increased use of ICT in agriculture research was emphasized by the Deputy Director General (Research) of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) Dr. Dave Hoisington, at the inaugural of the five-day International Consultation on Agricultural Research for Development and Innovation, addressing emerging challenges and exploiting opportunities through Information and Communication Technologies, on 7 December.

The five-day workshop on ICT in Patancheru looks at challenges of using ICT in agricultural research and transfer of technologies to poor farmers. The workshop is jointly organized by ICRISAT, Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI).

Dr. Hoisington pointed out that politicians were able to effectively use new technologies including ICT and the agricultural scientists must take a cue from them. “Unfortunately, till now ICT is not given the due importance it deserves, and this has to be corrected to achieve more positive results,” he added.

In his special message, ICRISAT’s Director General, Dr. William D. Dar, highlighted the importance of information in agriculture, and encouraged the workshop to come up with fresh and innovative ideas that could be mainstreamed in the new paradigm of international agricultural research.

Dr. Ajit Maru, of GFAR, Rome, defined the theme of the consultations and opined that ICT should be accorded prominence by treating it as frontier technology on par with biotechnology and nano-technology. “Once this is done, it should be able to attract more investments to take on new and challenging tasks of improving the livelihoods of resource-poor smallholders and producers,” he said.

Dr. Stephen Rudgard, Chief, WAICENT Outreach and Capacity Building Branch of the FAO of the United Nations, Rome, stressed the importance of ICT and its usefulness in transferring technologies to the poor farming communities.

Dr. Attaluri Srinivasacharyulu of APAARI, Bangkok, said that ICT should be further extended to benefit the growing number of farming families, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr. V. Balaji, Global Leader, Knowledge Management and Sharing, ICRISAT, thanked every one for participating in the workshop and said that about 60 participants drawn from 27 countries and 8 international organizations are attending the workshop.