“Conferences this size are nearly always Powerpoint-led,” said CTA’s Giacomo Rambaldi during the closing ceremony on Thursday evening. “But right from the outset, we decided that this one would be different – that interaction would be at the core of the conference.” And that’s exactly how it’s turned out.
Agriculture and rural development actors across African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, who mostly live and work in remote rural communities, have rich knowledge, skills and experience in the exchange of agricultural information.
The legacy of this traditional approach to agricultural knowl-edge-sharing continues with the emergence of new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Several of the new ICT innovations are based on some of the traditional models and approaches being used by local farmers, extension agents and other intermediaries.
This notwith-standing, the power of new ICTs, like mobile technologies, the Internet and social media, is changing the architecture of agricultural knowledge exchange. Exposing stakeholders to some of these tested and booming innovative tools and applications, not only from ACP but also from Asia, the Americas, and Europe, and giving the participants the opportunity to try them out, is the main goal of the Plug & Play Day.
As a precursor to the main conference, the Plug & Play Day (usually Day Zero) is being organised as a very special and exciting event. The day offers both ICT4Ag innovators and interested participants a fantastic opportunity for a valuable and very practical insight into the latest technological developments in the field of ICTs for agriculture.
It is a true hands-on experience with demonstrations and in-depth sessions by prestigious application providers and experienced practitioners. Participants will test-drive the latest mobile applications, Web 2.0 and social media tools, and discover how they can make these tools work for them in their agricultural activities. Selected topics being covered closely parallel the broader conference themes and streams. They are well tailored to the needs of all stakeholder groups such as farmers and farmer organisations, agricultural researchers, policy and decision makers, intermediary organisations, private sector organisations, and civil society and advocacy groups. The sessions are designed to allow demonstrators to share their skills and ex-pertise in an interactive format, learn with participants who may be interested in these tools, and enable hands-on experience from participants.
Some of the issues to be addressed by the selected innovations will include innovative search engines for extension agents, low-cost video technologies for improved knowledge sharing, innovative use of mobile phone for fishing, online collaborative tool for agricultural researchers, one-on-one instruction technology for farmers, mobile applications for detecting fake agro inputs, innovative use of radio to empower users, up-to-date market information platforms for traders and producers and mapping tools, among others.