Unusual discussion Usually, what gets discussed on TV talk shows are big political issues. Somewhat unusually, the Derana Aluth Parlimenthuva Program focused on economic issues yesterday. My expectation was that it would be on the big news stories: oil tanks, India, growth rates, etc. I talked about the recently gained GSP Plus concession. This allows Sri Lankan firms to export some 6000 products into the EU, duty free.
For some, it’s something they are used to. But for others it’s a new experience. They carefully touch the icons on the smart phone with tentative fingers and say “Puthalata, duvalata nang meva pulavan” (Our sons and daughters can easily do this) The group of farmers who gathered last week in Dambulla came from different areas in the Matale and Anuradhapura districts. Some had travelled long distances. They were a diverse group – ranging in age from twenties to fifties.
In agriculture economic instruments are used to increase productivity, efficiency, access and affordability. However not all instruments achieve their ultimate goals, they fail. One main candidate that causes these economic instruments to fail is the “Misaligned Incentives”. This article explores the answers to popular agricultural issues such as (1) Why fertiliser subsidies fail (2) Why organic agriculture uptake is slow (3) Why farmers apply banned chemicals in fruit and vegetable production (4) Why consumers knowingly consume unhealthy produce and (5) Why coordinated agriculture practices fail?.
Agricultural sustainability is a priority in terms of promoting the “Green Economy”. However during the past several years the word “Agricultural Sustainability” has only been a catch phrase. Policy makers pound hard on the word “Agricultural sustainability” while the country was fully geared towards chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Neither farmers nor the policy makers really cared about the long-term impacts rather short term goals were the aim. I argue that the main reason for this is because there wasn’t a strong government patronage behind the efforts towards sustainable agriculture.
LIRNEasia researchers were in the field last week talking to vegetable farmers in Chilaw, Gampaha and Kurunegala. The discussions which took part in varying locations, are part of the LIRNEasia’s ongoing research for its ‘Inclusive information societies’ project. The project aims to assess the impact of opening up government data and making crop advisory information available to farmers through a mobile application. Initially the app will target farmers who grow cucurbits for export. Research work for the project is now underway.
Agricultural subsidies have been an important economic intervention for agriculture dependent countries. This has significantly impacted the production, efficiency and sustainability of agriculture. It is important to identify the dynamics of the agricultural value chains if the benefits of subsidies are to be harnessed. Type of the subsidy, size and the intended stakeholders in the value chain are important to identify prior to implementation. It is also important to have a transition plan.
Agricultural value chains hold the primary characteristics of a “Principal-Agent” relationship. Therefore, I argue whether the failure of these value chains can be explained in terms of a Principal-Agent Problem. Explaining an issue using economic terms does not help much therefore I am also proposing ways that the problem can be resolved. The Principal-Agent Problem can be best explained in a contract farming setting. Contract farming is a form of vertical integration within agricultural commodity chains, such that the firm has greater control over the production process, as well as the quantity, quality, other characteristics and the timing of what is produced.
The 2017 budget proposals for agriculture speak many right and necessary words. However, one would wonder whether they carry the essential implementation characteristics. The attempt of the article therefore is to critically evaluate five most significant agricultural budget proposals of 2017. Please read more from the below link: http://www.ft.
Research shows many reasons for agricultural value chains to fail. Some popular reasons are: lack of motivation, lack of financial strength, lack of planning, little evaluation of market opportunities and even lack of business management skills. However I argue that transaction costs are the main reasons for agricultural value chains to fail. LIRNEasia’s research work on transaction costs dates back to 2006. These research works looked at identifying key transaction costs in agricultural value chains, especially the smallholder vegetable growers associated with the largest wholesale market of the country.
I was asked to make one point about the way forward at the closing session of the excellent e agriculture solutions forum organized by the FAO and ITU offices in Bangkok. Here is what I said (more or less, but this is the jist): Big data in agriculture We have come a long way from being fixated on radio as the be all and end all of ICTs in agriculture. We are fortunate to be living in an age when we can even take smartphones for granted in Myanmar, a country still listed as an LDC and one which went from 10 mobile connections per 100 people to over 80 in less than two years. Our own surveys (early 2015) showed that 63 percent of all mobile owners in Myanmar had smartphones, with more computing power than the computers we used just a decade ago. The mean price of a handset was USD87, with the largest number being in the USD 50 range.
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?
The National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary Industries organized a seminar on 5th of July at the Galadhari Hotel, Colombo to discuss the ways to become “Export Giants Through Modernization”. The seminar comprised of more than 30 leading exporters of export agriculture crops, fruits and vegetables. An Expert panel was set up to have an interactive session. The expert panel consisted of the Honorable Daya Gamage, Minister of Primary Industries, Eng. Bandula Wickramarachci the secretary to the Ministry of Primary Industries, Mr.
The 8th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD 2016) was held from 3- 6th June 2016. The conference held at the University of Michigan, saw a variety of sessions on different topics. LIRNEasia participated in the session on ‘Debating Open Development: Sharing and Interrogating Experiences of Developing Cross-Cutting Theory in ICTD’ organized by the Strengthening Information Society Research Capacity Alliance (SIRCA). This session provided an introduction to the SIRCA III Research Programme. LIRNEasia has been selected as one of the teams to conduct research in the empirical phase of the SIRCA III Programme.
As the world celebrates World Meteorological Day 2016 under the theme “Hotter, drier, wetter. Face the future”, 2011- 2015 is identified as the hottest period on record. Apart from heavy droughts, climate change is currently contributing to the increased risk of heavy rains and flood. Therefore, it is important to protect lives and property through impact based forecasts. (http://www.
Helani Galpaya, CEO of LIRNEasia presented ongoing work on “Open Data & Agriculture” at the “Workshop on data system processing”, held at Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI) on 29th January 2016. The meeting, chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Duminda Dissanayake, was organized under the National Food Security Program. The main objective of the discussion was to bring stakeholders with interest on providing ICT based solutions to Agriculture into a common platform and to avoid possible duplications of work. LIRNEasia was invited to present their work along with Department of Agriculture, the Coordinating Secretariat for Science Technology and Innovation (COSTI), University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC), Dr. Athula Ginige-University of Western Australia, GIS solutions (PVT) Ltd, Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Salasine Organization and Agricultural & Agrarian Insurance Board.
While the rest of the Sri Lanka slept peacefully, a considerable number of young and enthusiastic programmers gave up sleep this weekend – but for a good cause. Anyone dropping in to the WSO2 offices in Colombo the early hours of Saturday or Sunday morning would have been greeted by the sight of exhausted but determined coders hunched over laptops, tapping away. Among them were three teams working on a problem put forward by LIRNEasia. This was the scene of the Code4good hackathon which started on Friday evening (18th) and ran non stop until Sunday evening. Though the intense work happened this weekend, preparation began much before.