Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (III). e-Agriculture

Notes from the Fifth IPID ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium 2010, held at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain, on September 9-10th, 2010. More notes on this event: ipid2010.

E-agriculture in Kenya: appropriation of mobile devices and the emergence of new networks of agricultural communication
Ugo Vallauri

How do we cope with such a complex concept as sustainable agriculture? Jules Pretty:

  • Minimize the use of non-renewable inputs.
  • Make productive use of knowledge and skills of farmers.
  • make productive use of people’s collective capacities to work together to solve common agricultural and natural resource problems.

e-Agriculture includes innovation cloud (research, academia, development), extension and farmers (and their communities), market prices, information and logistics in trade cycle.

The research will take place in Kenya, working on a project that supports community-based interventions based around infomediaries equipped with laptops fit with up-to-date locally relevant agricultural content.

The project is very interesting in the fact that the laptop that infomediaries use is an XO (i.e. OLPC $100 laptop), but not used individually, but by a collective, and not used in an educational context, but for agricultural information.

On the other hand, a prior insight has been put into differentiating mobiles vs. mobility. That is why the laptop was chosen and not a cellphone, to avoid the identification of the device with the real matter, and to avoid too some politics of technology choices.

The project will assess both the technical feasibility and scaling-up, and the impact of the technology adoption.


Vanessa Frías: does technology really does not matter? are PCs really similar to cellulars? A: not that they are similar, but sometimes they take the focus out of what is more relevant, which is mobility.

Annotated agriculture videos for mediator and community skill development
Shweta Pareek

Digital Green model: DG-concept sharing, training, video shooting, editing, dissemination, adoption. All takes place within the framework of a village community, working with partners that already exist in rural areas.

Videos on agriculture are taped, annotated and enriches with multiple choice questions, comments, pictorial representations, etc.

Videos have different ranges of impact depending on the topic covered. Added to that, annotated videos have higher impact than just videos, slightly higher in some cases (e.g. Chilli nursery bed), much higher in some others (Applications of jeevamruta).

Reasons for more adoption: like the narration behind each annotation, enhance information, update information, just not watching but learning, feel new from modified videos, improve learning skills.

Total cost of software to making a video does not differ with the one to make an improved video. The “real” cost comes in time, where the amount of time to edit the videos almost doubles from standard videos to enhanced ones.


Ugo Vallauri: how were data gathered to compare the two kinds of video? A: Data come from the different groups that used different kinds of video, that is, some groups used annotated video some others didn’t.

Tim Unwin: how were ethnic differences taken into account? A: The project targeted Self-Help groups working in Indian language. But the project is already partnering with other local organizations to be able to reach other ethnicities.

Salma Abbasi: how enabling are the men in the community with the women that are using these videos? How do men treat the women following the training? A: Men usually ignore the issue and don’t make a problem out of it.


Fifth Annual ICT4D Postgraduate Symposium (2010)