To get the “talk show” at the FAO-ITU workshop on e agriculture rolling we were asked to give a three-minute summary of what we had learned. This was a good opportunity to distill eight years of learning.
At LIRNEasia we have looked at the role ICTs can play in agriculture both at the micro and macro levels: supply chain studies where we looked for gaps that ICTs could fill (jute, gherkin, mango, pomegranate, potato, pineapple, rubber supply chains in 3 countries) and the systematic review of 7000+ research papers/articles on effect of mobiles on rural livelihoods.
Our conclusion is that Ted Schultz was right. Information by itself will be change outcomes. Changes in information and knowledge have to be aligned with incentives. That is what all the work, starting with the gherkin research in 2006-08, showed. What the Systematic reviews told us was that action and research in this area needs to recognize farmers’ attitudes to risk. They will not adopt new innovations within a short period or one crop cycle. The “treatment” has to be given and assessed over mutiple crop cycles, allowing farmers time to assess the risk.