Medium 9781786393364

Digital Technologies for Agricultural and Rural Development in the Global South

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This book shares research and practice on current trends in digital technology for agricultural and rural development in the Global South. Growth of research in this field has been slower than the pace of change for practitioners, particularly in bringing socio-technical views of information technology and agricultural development perspectives together. The contents are therefore structured around three main themes: sharing information and knowledge for agricultural development, information and knowledge intermediaries, and facilitating change in agricultural systems and settings.ÊWith contributions reaching beyond just a technological perspective, the book also provides a consideration of social and cultural factors and new forms of organization and institutional change in agricultural and rural settings. An invaluable read for researchers in international development, socio-economics and agriculture, it forms a useful resource for practitioners working in the area.

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Introduction and Overview

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Introduction and Overview

Richard Duncombe

Centre for Development Informatics, University of Manchester, UK

The population of the Global South is growing rapidly with the largest countries by population, such as China and India, and the poorest countries by GDP per capita, such as those in sub-Saharan

Africa, showing the highest predicted population growth rates according to the World Bank in 2016.

As populations grow so do requirements for food and nutrition. In this respect, improvements in ­agricultural productivity and sustainability have always been essential conditions for ­development to take place. Agricultural productivity (measured as agricultural output per capita) has risen steadily in the developing world over the last five decades (Benin et al., 2011). For many countries this has been a great success story, as improved agriculture has the greatest impact on the reduction in rural poverty. However, some regions of the Global South have seen greater success than others.

 

PART 1: CTINGREA AND SHARING KWLEDGENO

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1 

Mobile Phone Applications for

Weather and Climate Information for

Smallholder Farmer Decision Making

Amanda Caine,1 Chris Clarke,2 Graham Clarkson1 and

Peter Dorward1*

1School

of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, UK;

2Statistics for Sustainable Development, Reading, UK

1.1 Introduction

Smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate variability and change. Providing smallholder farmers with climate information can enable them to make better farming decisions which can in turn lead to increased food security. The Participatory Integrated Climate

Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach

(­Dorwood et al., 2015) seeks to support decisionmaking and build resilience amongst smallholder farmers in Africa by providing climate information and decision-making tools. Whilst it has been successful to date and reached tens of thousands of farmers, greater use of mobile phones and apps to support PICSA may have the potential to enhance certain aspects. Mobile phones are being used increasingly to provide smallholder farmers with agricultural information and advisory services, with a wide variety of mAgri initiatives being established in the developing world over the last few years. These initiatives offer the potential of providing agriculture-related information and services to a large number of smallholder farmers at a relatively low cost. This chapter considers how mobile phone applications may be used to

 

PART 2: INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE INTERMEDIARIES

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5 

Introducing a Technology Stewardship

Model to Encourage ICT Adoption in

Agricultural Communities of Practice:

Reflections on a Canada/Sri Lanka

Partnership Project

Gordon A. Gow*,†

University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada

5.1 Introduction

Information and communication technologies

(ICTs) have long been regarded as forces for positive change in agriculture and rural development despite a track record of modest success with many initiatives (Duncombe, 2012). ICTs are considered, particularly among frontline development practitioners, as important tools for mobilizing knowledge because they can lower transaction costs associated with information seeking and because they can introduce new social practices for improving farmer education and training through the use of various forms of digital media (Farm Radio International, 2011; O’Donnell, 2011). Low-cost technologies such as the mobile phone have been the subject of intense focus within the ICT for Development (ICT4D) community as holding considerable promise for knowledge mobilization in the agriculture sector (Qiang et al., 2011).

 

PART 3: FACILITATING CHANGE IN AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS

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9 

Towards Alternate Theories of

Change for M4ARD

Linus Kendall* and Andrew Dearden

Sheffield Hallam University, UK

9.1 Introduction

In this chapter, we explore alternative theories of change for mobile technologies for agriculture and rural development (M4ARD). Increasing attention is being given to ‘theory of change’ within the field of international development where it has been used by both international donors and civil society. In effect, since all interventions undertaken in M4ARD seek to generate positive change in the lives of rural populations, they can be understood as expressing some form of theory of change. While the theory of change is often only implicitly acknowledged, it is nevertheless possible to infer a theory (or theories) that link project actions to expected outcomes and impacts. Explicitly acknowledging a theory of change helps to illuminate the assumptions, conditions and processes by which an inter­ vention seeks change. This is valuable in all phases of a project, from design to evaluation.

 

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