ICTs and Social Media for Agricultural Advisory Services
The role of agriculture has changed over the last decades—once which was only to feed population—now it became more multifunctional and multi-actor processes with involvement of many global and local stakeholders, such as farmers, processors, and markets. Whether it is farmers or advisory agencies or food safety professionals, these stakeholders must play their roles and perform their functions efficiently to ensure that the sector meet a crucial responsibility to support lives and livelihoods.
Agricultural advisory agencies and advisory agents have been increasingly utilizing technology, such as ICT and social media, in performing their duties to facilitate learning and change in farms. ICT is a term used to denote all the technological channels through which people can reach out to each other and share information.
Agricultural extension officers in many parts of the world have adopted social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, blogs and microblogs, online forms, videos, podcasts and many others to communicate with farmers and share beneficial information. In Ontario, advisory services have been relying on various remote, virtual and web-based tools to facilitate information dissemination. Ultimately creating stronger, more informed local food systems start with fostering collaboration, communication and participation in the industry, and ICTs can help us to achieve this. Prof. Ataharul Chowdhury and extension experts at the University of Guelph and colleagues abroad investigated the use of social media for agricultural extension in other jurisdictions, such as in Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago. To know more about, please visit https://www.uoguelph.ca/oac/icts
Agricultural advisory services in India have gone digital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Farmers find it difficult to visit their farm extension service centers called “Agriclinics,” which supports e-marketing. Through a pluralistic approach, it has come up with different digital platforms to provide advisories to farmers through video conferencing by connecting them with advisors. Department of Agriculture has collaborated with the ICT department to provide assistance to farmers through a common platform called Common Service Centers (CSC), a platform that offers video conferencing and other facilities to farmers. With this, farmers could visit their nearby CSC and get diseases, pests, and insect-related advice from an advisor through a video call. Under this initiative, farmers are getting e-marketing facilities called “Kisan e-Mart,” which allow both buyer and seller to negotiate their desire price for a particular product. As a result, digital agricultural services are even benefitting the agricultural sector during this COVID-19 pandemic.
(Source: Times of India)
Dr. Chowdhury has been collaborating with the University of Alberta and the University of the West Indies, Trinidad, to undertake participatory action research on technology stewardship― a model for strengthening change leadership role for adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) within any kind of community of practice. (Read more)
Although advisory services are considered as an essential component for supporting the livelihoods of disadvantaged communities in low-income regions, there are few studies related to advisory services for forest resource management, especially in Bangladesh. (Read more)
A new journal paper co-authored by Md Kamruzzaman, Ataharul Chowdhury, Helen Hambly and Silvia Sarapura, highlights how agricultural advisory agents use social media to support agricultural innovation in Bangladesh. (Read more)