Using Information and Communications Technology for Agricultural Extension

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Date
2005
Authors
Maru, Ajit
Latchem, Colin
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Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver
Abstract

Agriculture is the mainstay of many low-income or developing nations’ economies and exports, and provides for the livelihoods of billions of smallholders. These smallholder farmers face low or reducing crop yields and incomes due to land degradation from over-farming, mono-cropping and a reduction in the labour force from the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Women smallholders today play an increasing role in agricultural production but often lack the capital, labour, time and educational levels of their male counterparts, resulting in decreased production, less nutritious crops and community pauperisation. Agricultural extension programmes can provide much-needed help in the form of practical field-advice, innovations from scientists and practitioners, and sound commodity-marketing principles. Yet the enormous demand for smallholder training can never be met through conventional extension methods. Traditionally, extension transfers knowledge from researchers or external experts to farmers through training, demonstration plots and field visits. These programmes rely on face-to-face teaching and learning, tend to be propagated slowly, are small in scale and limited in coverage. Smallholder extension programmes have always been a low priority; nowadays, the increasing privatisation and commercialisation of extension programmes places them even further out of the reach of communities most in need.

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Agricultural Extension,ICT in Agriculture
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