Capacity Development, Grassroots Organizations, and ICTs in Agriculture

Organised by: IICD

When it comes to capacity strengthening for grassroots organizations, a number of issues need to be considered. Should training activities be short and focused, or on-going? Are stakeholders ready and willing to learn and change? How does team learning/training compare to individual training?

Bottom-up approaches that help the organisation build their own capacity, the full integration of the organisation's/group's own vision, mission, aims and objectives into the capacity building programmes, and the need to take asystemic approach by considering all levels of leadership within the organization also need to be addressed. Within the agricultural sector, the impact of grassroots organisations has been minimal over the decades. With the rise of ICTs, stakeholders have increasingly seen the need to try out new approaches.

The session will be using a number of practical cases from across the globe to answer questions, such as:

  • who are the key stakeholders;
  • what are their roles when it comes to capacity building;
  • what approaches are currently being used by specific commodity value chains;
  • what are the challenges;
  • how can ICTs support communication and exchange of resources between and among these actors;
  • and what is the role of the media?
Nov 6, 11:00 - 12:30
Room: Bulera
Stream: Capacity Strengthening

Sessions Chair

Chair of the session is Saskia Harmsen
Officer Community Relations, Innovation & Capacity Development, International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)

Responsible for coordinating and managing knowledge activities and partnerships related to Capacity Development & Innovation in ICT-enabled Social Innovation processes

View profile


GIS/GPS mapping technology as a catalyst to enterprise competitiveness and agribusiness growth of smallholder farmer associations in Ghana

There is the need to address the numerous constraints faced by smallholder farmers with regards to dispersion of farms and lack of clear data for production planning, monitoring and targeting. This results in: inability to forecast yields on farm; inaccurate assessment of supply base; over-estimation of farm sizes, over-paying for labour and other services; and finally, difficulties in resource allocation and targeting of small-scale producers for assistance and support.An enhanced business partnership in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) services between a private sector service provider (Syecomp Business Services) and smallholder Farmer Organizations will help provide agricultural services and support systems as well as enhance the value of staple food crops throughout the supply chain, leading to an explosion of agribusiness growth. It will also assist in providing effective marketing channels which will include infrastructure and facilities such as storage, handling, transporting, processing, packaging and retailing services. This will also inform farmers in areas of product location, timing, types, quantity, quality, prices and any other information required by producers, exporters, processors, consumers, et al to make effective decisions.Syecomp Business Services has been facilitating access to and adoption of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) as a productivity tool for selected horticultural smallholder farmers in the Volta Region of Ghana to enhance their productivity and income. This is being done through a pilot initiative, with support from the Market Oriented Agricultural Programme (MOAP/Component 3), funded by GIZ and implemented by AFC Consultants InternationalGmBH.We are building the capacity of farmers to use GPS tools to collect farm data and also encourage them to continually make use of private sector service providers for data processing.


Solomon Elorm Allavi

Founder, Syecomp Business Services

Local knowledge centre (Gyaner Haat): the experience of practical action on operational models

De-centralised knowledge service is vital for empowering the knowledge deprived poor people. Practical Action’s knowledge management programme is more about creating the provision of contextualised and localised knowledge for the poor communities and developing a channel of reliable information and knowledge from the grass root to policy makers about real needs for technical assistance in poverty reduction program. Aiming to create diverse entities for de-centralsied knowledge service Practical Action-Bangladesh promotes grass root Knowledge Centre in various locations called Gyaner Haat. Based on its experience on working with rural technology extensionist for 10 years, rural ICT or technology centre for 4-5 years and managing farmers technical inquiry service for many years Practical Action adapted a model of grass root knowledge centre attached with NGO, Union Council and high school over last 3 years. This paper describes experiences on operational model of knowledge centre from 2-3 Practical Action projects and one on going action research. With varied startup investment cost from $2500-3500 to $12500 a centre can run by its own if it can earn $125-200 per month. One of the unique characters of the centre is its local expert pool of around 20 self-employed rural technology extensionists, one self-employed knowledge entrepreneurs having one assistant in each centre. They are well connected with Govt., other NGO and Practical Action’s experts. The centre kept range of farm and non-farm technology booklets, leaf lets, CDs and fact sheets of local problem solving answers. Also well-equipped with internet resources, connected with the Bengali website ( and other similar websites. The operational model do not require project based support in long run can run independently following a cost recovery method and local institutional support. This centre can be attached with a rural school, Union Council or a NGO, a Community Based Organization (CBO) or a network. It was recorded that each Gyaner Haat responded around 1800 enquires per year, reached around 2500 households covering around 15 villages. Services at the centre such as computer compose & training, digital photo printing, knowledge material distribution, audio-visual show, distribution of various Govt. forms, photocopy was found useful. However, slow internet connectivity, poor electricity supply are the key constraints. The Gyaner Haat was capable to serve mostly low and medium well-being category people. However, the approach didn’t completely exclude the richer. Finally it was learnt how knowledge worked for its clients. It was found that only advice has less to do with the knowledge seekers as there is scarcity of necessary inputs and lack of skill and services to act. Therefore, an effective working model combining with advice (information, knowledge), input (e.g. quality seed, vaccine) and service (pushing vaccine, animal treatment) made a big difference in knowledge services. Sustainability of such centre lies with the capacity of local drivers, suitable legal and institutional arrangement and local ownership of the centre. Subsidy may require running such centre in very remote locations.


Mohammad Kamrul Islam Bhuiyan

Senior Knowledge Officer, Practical Action, Bangladesh

The use of mobile phones for communication with the grassroots farmers on farm management and marketing techniques

Mobile phones as a new ICT innovation in Africa is one of the best communication tools which eases communication process in agriculture. As the Head of some farming groups in my region, we have organized capacity building workshops and seminars to educated farmers on how to use their mobile phone to receive, read and send messages. We do communicate with them on farming techniques and marketing strategies. We currently have a network of over 1200 farmers connected through their mobile phones. We share ideas together within one minute through messages and phone calls. The major advantages in this communication through the mobile phones are:

  • develops the grassroots farmers production and marketing strategies which improves on their livelihood.
  • improve in post harvest losses
  • improve information in farm management , pest and diseases
  • facilitates the establishment of Micro projects and running of small Micro Credit schemes. 
Cameroon is an Agric production country of foodstuff and forest products. It provides food for its neighboring countries, however due to the bad farm to market roads which links the neighboring villages and towns communication becomes difficult. Our CIG has tried to handle this challenge by communicating with grassroots farmers through the use of mobile phones. With this innovation the farmers do received information on the following:
  • preparation offarming season
  • planting
  • farm management
  • harvesting and how to handle post harvest losses
  • marketing strategies and storage procedures. 
Another challenge is the issue of climate change thus we do communicate the farmers on what to do, how to do and when to doWe do visit the farming groups for updating. The process so far has been successful, however not all the farmers have access to mobile phones and also some areas do have network problems.


Catherine Molua Mojoko

President, Walana Wa Makwasi Women CIG

TIC et transformation agricole

Portera sur l`expérience unique du Centre MultiMedia communautaire (CMC)pilote au Rwandainitié par HUGUKA dans le cadre de promouvoir l`usage de TIC dans le milieu rural agricole du Rwanda. Nous voulons présenter les impacts des TIC notamment l`Internet dans le transformation et ledéveloppement agricole en travers des témoignages des différents acteurs de développement agricole a savoir les producteurs, les vulgarisateurs agricoles, les ongs de développement agricoles, etc. Installé dans le milieu rural, le CMC,qui offre des différents services des TIC notamment l`internet, la formation en informatique, la formation agricole, etc, a transformé la vie socio-economique de la population rurale, notamment celle des agriculteurs qui ont intégrés l`usage des TIC dans leur vie socio-economique.


Eugene Ndekezi

Coordinator, Huguka