I was happy to moderate a thoughtfully assembled session at the FAO-ITU organized e agriculture solutions forum in Nanthaburi, Thailand, 29-31 August 2016. The objective of this session was to share initiatives on e-agriculture – the challenges and opportunities from public and private sector. There were speakers from a government research organization, a research group at a university, a trade association representing telecom operators, and a private firm. They will present a range of exciting solutions, some centered on complex computer systems that integrate multiple data streams and others that focused on the smartphone interface.
One question I did not have time to ask was one I wrote down right at the beginning: “if you could pick the application that has the greatest impact from all that you have done in this space, what role was played in its success by collaboration?” One reason I did not ask it was because they seemed to point to collaboration across the sectors as a success factor in everything they said. It’s only governments that can scale many e agriculture apps developed in the non-profit sector. It’s only entities that operate on the basis of business models and revenue streams that can ensure that applications will continue to be supported after the end of project funding.