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Mainstreaming Farmers and Intermediaries Into Information and Communications Technology (ICT): A Strategy Towards Adopting ICT for Rural Development and Agricultural Extension

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources, 4th World Congress Conference, Proceedings of the 24-26 July 2006 (Orlando, Florida USA) Publication Date 24 July 2006  701P0606.(doi:10.13031/2013.21863)
Authors:   Ruel V. Maningas
Keywords:   Rural Development and Extension, Agricultural Services Intermediaries, ICT-based Services, Mainstreaming Farmers into ICT, Knowledge Networking

Recent developments in information and communications technology (ICT) offer a great opportunity to facilitate the flow of information and technology services delivery especially to the farmers. However, while there are efforts already in place to boost and harness the potential of ICT for agricultural development, literatures show that agricultural services intermediaries like extension workers, and farmers especially those in the far-flung areas have yet to reap its benefits for varied reasons such as non-awareness, inadequate ICT infrastructure, non-strategic location of information centers and negative attitude towards ICT use. Mainstreaming farmers and intermediaries (technology promotion and commercialization agents and agricultural extension workers) into ICTs requires both the physical and social infrastructure. Physical infrastructure consists of appropriate ICT tools for farmers adoption and use while the social infrastructure comprises strategies, techniques and conducive environment to mobilize them to proactively seek and utilize the ICT-based services. The challenge is not only to provide the farmers with access to information and support services but also to ensure their relevance to their needs and situations. End-users especially in the rural areas will have to be familiar with the uses of ICTs and the potential applications and appropriateness of content in their situation. As they are new to many of them, familiarity with the technologies will enable the end-users to consult the providers of information services to adapt and create their own content. This paper presents a model and application on how farmers and intermediaries can be mainstreamed into ICTs and eventually adopt them as tools to facilitate the flow of information and knowledge they need to put agricultural innovations and socio-economic opportunities to best use.

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