Inclusive Agriculture


    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.

Big data and agriculture

Posted by Rohan Samarajiva on September 1, 2016  /  0 Comments

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.

ICTD 2016

Posted by on June 14, 2016  /  0 Comments

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.

Coding for a cause

Posted by on September 21, 2015  /  0 Comments

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.
For the past week or so, LIRNEasia’s ICT for agriculture researchers have been interacting with three groups of coders who want to respond to our pitch described below. In Sri Lanka, a considerable amount of information relevant to farmers involved in the export sector is held within government departments and Ministries. How can we create a solution that enables farmers to receive important information vital to their work and also allow them to share information about disease outbreaks and other issues? Solution: Create an app that has information related to crop advise, the ability to take geo-tagged photographs and to upload to a platform for identifying and tracking diseases, and a platform where farmers can advertise to exporters. I understand there’s a lot of activity this weekend at the offices of WSO2 which have been volunteered for this Code4Good event.
I’ve been invited to moderate a three party discussion on live TV organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, on the government SLRC channel at 10 PM today. In preparing for the task, I read through the economic proposals contained in the General Election manifestos of the JVP, the UPFA and the UNP. Given our continuing engagement with the Sri Lanka agriculture sector which started almost 10 years ago, I thought I’d use the proposals on agriculture to illustrate the approaches of the three parties. I also thought it might be useful to see if any of our ideas had percolated into the political mainstream over the past decade. Given our focus has been on the high-value fruit and vegetable segment, I will focus on that.
Today the research team had an opportunity to present findings from our work at a research colloquium hosted by the Faculty of Agriculture, Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Alberta. Here, Chandana Jayathilake is describing the campaigns conducted as part of the project. Original post at: http://mobilizingknowledge.blogspot.ca/2015/03/presentation-at-university-of-alberta.
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.
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.
In 2010 I wrote a piece of science fiction. It was published in an academic book, so it came out in 2013 as “e South Asia: A social science fiction,” in South Asia in 2060: Envisioning regional futures, eds. Najam, A. & Yusuf, M., chapter 26.
The Sri Lanka Department of Export Agriculture (DOEA) sponsored two campaigns in the Kurunegala district, with ginger farmers in the north area and pepper farmers in the south area. Both campaigns were intended to improve the efficiency and timeliness of communication between DOEA extension officers and local farmers. Both campaigns used text messaging and both showed that there was interest from farmers in this form of communication, despite challenges with using text messaging on their phones. Many of the older generation farmers said they needed help to use text messaging but found the information useful. They asked for a voice-based system to complement the SMS system.