Sri Lanka agriculture could do with dose of IT – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Greater use of information technology in Sri Lanka’s largely subsistence agriculture sector will help both farmers and consumers alike by reducing costs, a researcher has said. Harsha De Silva, lead economist at LIRNEasia, a think tank, said a system using IT that addresses the information needs from the decision making phase through the growth and sale of agricultural products will help balance the welfare of both consumers and farmers. “ICT (information and communications technology) can be used to reduce the information and observable transaction costs to create efficiencies in agricultural markets,” de Silva said. “And if we can create efficiencies in agricultural markets, we can create welfare on both sides of the equation,” he told a recent seminar on the role of ICT in agriculture. “The core will definitely have to be a system that marries the decision-making and selling and that is where ICT will take agriculture markets from this point on and that is where we see some variants of commodity exchanges developing.
Yesterday, I spoke to a large and restive crowd (made so by lack of air conditioning and a delayed start) in Matara (main city in the South of Sri Lanka) at the launch of the Pathfinder Foundation’s first book, a Sinhala translation of Janos Kornai’s Toward a free economy. I was asked to talk about globalization and the relevance of Kornai’s ideas for facing the challenges posed by globalization. In this talk that I pieced together thanks to time zone differences that caused me to wake up at 3 in the morning while in the US, I illustrated the issues referring to Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), a broad area of service exports for which efficient, flexible and low-cost telecom is a pre-condition. I think the talk provides the "big picture" of the necessity of telecom reforms of the type that we at LIRNEasia are involved in. If we are to go beyond simply giving people phones, to giving them "money in the pocket and hope in the heart" this big picture is essential.