LIRNEasia was invited to participate in the symposium on Food System Innovation in South and Southeast Asia. The event was organised by the Michigan State University (MSU) and The Energy Resource Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, India. The symposium largely featured research on climate change, population growth, irrigation, land use and agriculture innovations. These were drawn from the research done at the Global Center for Food Systems Innovations (GCFSI) at MSU and TERI. Experts from South and Southeast Asia were brought to shed light on the regional conditions.
In April 2012, LIRNEasia participated in a regional FAO workshop held in Bangkok. The workshop brought together representatives from the agriculture ministries/ departments of 10 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam), FAO personnel as well as the private sector, including operators of Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS). The official workshop proceedings are now available, with a chapter dedicated to LIRNEasia’s survey findings on the use of ICTs by the BOP. The report articulates the need for clear policies and the benefits of public-private partnerships in creating viable, sustainable and importantly reliable Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS-s).
Several Canadian and Sri Lankan organizations held a workshop in Peradeniya on Oct. 15 to provide an introduction to and basic training in the use of free and open source software (FOSS) to enable agricultural community groups and individuals to implement and use easily-accessible tools for communication, information collection, knowledge sharing, data visualization, and interactive mapping. Participants were introduced to four Free and Open Source software platforms that are in wide use around the world: FrontlineSMS and FrontlineSMS:Radio for text messaging, Freedom Fone for creating small scale interactive voice response systems with telephones, and Ushahidi for creating and curating interactive maps with geo located reports from mobile devices (i.e., crowdmapping).
Date: October 15, 2012 Time: 09:00 AM – 1:00 PM Location: Inservice Training Institute, Gannoruwa, Peradeniya The Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with LIRNEasia, University of Peradeniya Faculty of Agriculture, University of Alberta, and University of Guelph will be hosting a workshop on the use of low cost information and communication technology (ICT) for individuals working across the agricultural sector. The workshop will provide an introduction and basic training on the use of free and open source software to enable community groups and individuals to set up very easily and then use the simple but powerful tools for communication, information collection, knowledge sharing, data visualization, and interactive mapping. The workshop will cover three basic platforms: • FrontlineSMS (text messaging and radio interface) • Ushahidi (interactive mapping) • Freedom Fone (interactive voice response) There is no cost to attend the workshop but seating is limited. Please register your interest in participating through LIRNEasia by contacting : nuwan [at] lirneasia [dot] net Click to download the workshop announcement
Badalkumbura is located in the Moneragala District, one of the most impoverished in Sri Lanka. But it is located in the midst of a smallholder boom in rubber. Here, the key advantage is the weather. In contrast to the traditional rubber districts where rain prevents tapping of the trees for latex sometimes for half the month, rainy days are an exception in Moneragala. Thus new rubber is expanding rapidly, all with smallholders.
A high profile regional event intended to foster exchange of ideas among government officials and their suppliers attracted participants from the region as well as many from within government here in Sri Lanka. I was given the opportunity to present LIRNEasia’s research in 15 minutes in the first session. I chose to highlight the agriculture work and push a single policy recommendation: that government should free up data and information that it sat on (e.g., agricultural extension information) so that young people developing apps would have the necessary raw material.
LIRNEasia’s Lead Consultant Economist, Harsha de Silva, gave a keynote speech at the 30th National Information Technology Conference being held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 9th to 11th July 2012. Talking from an national economic development perspective, Harsha articulated the role of ICTs in growth as a transformative economic catalyst that can provide a platform for more equitable development especially in Agriculture. His slides are HERE
On July 4th, we were pleased to be able to share some of our research and explore areas of common interest with colleagues at LUMS, thanks to the kind invitation of Vice Chancellor Adil Najam. The slides we used to initiate the discussion are here. But they do not fairly depict the content of the conversation. Here is how it was reported on the LUMS website. Two representatives of LIRNEasia, a think tank that researches information and communications technology (ICT) across Asia, spoke at the LUMS Faculty Lounge on July 4, 2012 for an event organised by the Internet and Society Initiative.
LIRNEasia and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority co-hosted an event titled “What can telecommunications do for Agriculture?” in Islamabad on 3rd July 2012. The event was intended to stimulate cross-sectoral conversations between the telecommunications and agriculture sectors in Pakistan and was the first event of its kind in Pakistan. The presentations from the event are given below: Welcome note by Dr Muhammad Yaseen, Chairman PTA Session 1: Information needs and ICT access by the poor Dr. Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEasia How the poor use ICTs: Findings from multi-country studies of Teleuse at the Bottom of the Pyramid Ms.
LIRNEasia and the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority are jointly organizing an event on the role of telecommunications in agriculture at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad on 3rd July 2012. The event aims to increase cross-sectoral conversations and work in promoting the use of ICT applications in agriculture. LIRNEasaia is being represented by our CEO Rohan Samarajiva and research managers Sriganesh Lokanathan and Nilusha Kapugama More details to follow later.
Theme: Can ICT benefit the small farmers? “Putting Farmers First” Chair: Mr. Vikas Nath, Associate Director, Future of the United Nations Project, Switzerland Speakers: Dr. Harsha de Silva, Member of Parliament, Consultant Lead Economist, LIRNEasia, Sri Lanka Can ICT benefit small farmers? Tackling Smallholder Quality Penalty |Presentation | Ms.
The findings of the potato study conducted in Bangladesh under LIRNEasia’s 2010-2012 research cycle were shared with stakeholders in Dhaka on 10 April 2012. The dissemination workshop was attended by high level representatives from the government agencies such as Bangladeshi Agriculture Research Institute, Agriculture Information Service (AIS) of Ministry of Agriculture, Bangladesh, large scale exporters, processors and cold storage providers from the private sector. The stakeholders engaged in a productive exchange after the study findings were presented. The issues discussed included the availability and utilisation of cold storage, the quality of the potato seeds available in Bangladesh and suitability of some of the potato varieties grown for processing and exporting. The discussion of cold storage brought about further issues such as the under-utilisation (40%) of the cold storage available in some storage spaces, in spite of excessive demand in others.
The findings of the jute study conducted in Bangladesh under LIRNEasia’s 2010-2012 research cycle were shared with stakeholders in Dhaka on 9 April 2012. The dissemination workshop was attended by high level representatives from the government agencies such as Bangladeshi Agriculture Research Institute, the Jute Research Institute as well as representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Bangladesh and private organisations. The findings brought a lively debate about the prevailing issues in the jute industry such as the quality of the seeds in the market and retting techniques as well the quality of the jute produced. There was also discussion about the use of Information and communication technology such as mobiles to bring about some of the improvements in efficiency. The workshop was organised by Institute of Informatics and Development (IID) and Development Research Network (DNET), Bangladesh.
At the invitation of FAO, our CEO, Rohan Samarajiva, Research Manager, Nilusha Kapugama and I spent two days (April 3-4, 2012) in Bangkok participating in a regional FAO/ NECTEC workshop on the use of mobile technologies for food security, agriculture and rural development. The workshop brought together representatives from the agriculture ministries/ departments of 10 countries in Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam), FAO personnel as well as the private sector, including operators of Mobile Agricultural Information Services (MAIS). LIRNEasia research on the use of mobiles by the poor as well as in rural development set the stage for most of the sessions. Rohan, presented the latest findings from the Teleuse@BOP surveys; Nilusha presented some findings from the agricultural micro-enterprise survey (growers & non-growers); and I talked about the lessons and challenges of the current crop of MAIS in the region. The workshop interactions, especially the working group discussions facilitated by Rohan and myself, were eye-opening.
LIRNEasia‘s agricultural supply chain work from our current 2010-2012 research cycle was shared with the media at a dissemination event in Bangkok, Thailand. The event was intended to highlight some of the findings from the meta-study of ICT interventions in Thailand conducted for LIRNEasia by Deunden Nikomborirak. Presentations by the speakers are included below. Rohan Samarajiva, PhD., Chair & CEO, LIRNEasia Innovation for inclusive & efficient agricultural supply chains Nipon Poapongsakorn, PhD, President, Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) Supply Chain Management in Thailand Deunden Nikomborirak, PhD, TDRI Towards a Knowledge-based Economy: Case studies of the use of ICTs in enhancing agricultural value chains in Thailand Nilusha Kapugama, LIRNEasia Lessons from the supply chain studies in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka Sriganesh Lokanathan, LIRNEasia Overcoming the Smallholder Quality Penalty
Yesterday, I was in an FAO panel at the Global South-South Development Expo 2011, speaking on the role of mobiles in rural development using case studies from Sri Lanka and India. When I mentioned that one should have some concerns about the quality of information and the lack of accountability in the plethora of mobile based agriculture crop advisory services, I was asked a pertinent question by an official from the Ministry of Agriculture in China: Does this mean a greater role for government? What we think is that the basic information collection (for example market prices) should be collected by government or an agent of government and made available as a public good. The private sector can then be free to process it, add value and disseminate, potentially for a few to ensure sustainability. But the heart of the problem that we are concerned with is whether a one way transmission of generic crop “advice” to Farmer X will solve his problems or aggravate them.