At the FAO-ITU e agriculture workshop that I am attending in Bangkok, I was asked to respond to a question on failure of ICT projects in agriculture and why. I responded, saying I will speak only about our activities. I said that the market information system Harsha de Silva started as an e Sri Lanka pilot project; kept going with his own money; and then handed over to LIRNEasia to run and study is by many criteria a success: it was picked up by a mobile operator (a rare case of sustainability being achieved); the data that it produces are reused by government organizations; the data are used. But by my criteria, it is yet to succeed. My criteria are as follows: (i) the markets must clear, the way you measure this is by measuring the waste carted off the wholesale markets at the end of business everyday; (ii) there must be evidence that the law of one price is being found to be observed in a significant number of wholesale markets that are within driving distance of the main sources of supply.
We continue to receive media coverage for the Islamabad Mobile 2.0 Applications and Conditions Expert Forum Meeting. M. Somasekhar’s piece on Hindu Business Line on mobile payments says: Experts from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Kenya, Thailand, the Philippines, Bhutan and Bangladesh among other nations met in Islamabad recently to discuss their experiences in providing mobile phone services for the BoP segment in their respective countries. They agreed that a beginning has been made and the road ahead appeared daunting, but technological progress promised quick results.
Harsha de Silva discussed LIRNEasia research on ICTs and Agriculture at a Virtual Forum on ‘Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas’, organized by the e-Agriculture.org, from 17-28 November 2008. Consisting of over 145 people from 52 nations, participants at the forum included farmers; NGO representatives; private sector; researchers, scientists and academics; governmental representatives; and UN staff. A summary report of the first week of discussion is available here.