ICTs and Sustainable Agricultural Development

Organised by: Oxfam GB

Oxfam GB, the International Sustainability Unit (HRH the Prince of Wales), and the GSMA, have commissioned a landscaping survey to identify opportunities to use their collective force to enable mobile interventions that will deliver on the potential of mobile technology to empower female and male smallholders and contribute to the development of a more vibrant and sustainable food system. Experiences from this project will act as the basis for deliberation on ICTs and sustainable agricultural development in the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era.

The session aims at identifying opportunities that enable mobile interventions for sustainable agricultural development. To be shared: experiences from WeFarm on peer to peer knowledge sharing (agro practices); the use of tablet applications by the IDS Knowledge Services to aggregate agricultural research and agricultural data indicators for use by policy makers; and the experiences from MINAGRI, Rwanda, in building a strong force of proximity extension agents who work directly with the farmer groups to assist them to increase productivity, improve quality and reduce post-harvest losses.

Nov 7, 10:30 - 12:00
Room: Ruhondo
Stream: Emerging Innovations

Sessions Chair

Chair of the session is Alvaro Valverde Lopez
Private Sector Advisor, Oxfam GB

Is currently working for Oxfam GB; developing innovative, insightful and strategic projects and programs that use mobile phones to deliver information and financial services to smallholder farmers in Africa and Asia. Also providing support to Oxfam's existing relationships with private enterprises and researching, establishing and managing new partnerships with private sector companies across the ICT, agriculture and finance sectors.

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WeFarm: creating the Internet for people with no Internet

WeFarm is creating the ‘internet for people with no internet’. Smallholder farmer members in Africa and Latin America can ask questions and share farming tips and advice by sending a simple, local SMS message. WeFarm uses the internet, and our unique peer translation system, to share this knowledge by SMS with other WeFarm members around the world.
Our presentation will focus on introducing the unique aspects of WeFarm within the ICT4Ag sector: it’s peer to peer knowledge and innovation sharing model that empowers smallholder farmers; our ‘translation platform’ that enables a ‘Western’ community of volunteers to learn from farmers knowledge while providing an interactive translation service; and the power of smallholders sharing relevant knowledge between countries and cultures (e.g. a coffee farmer in Nicaragua sharing knowledge on a coffee plant pest which has recently started to appear on plants in Uganda)
We can share the lessons learned through our 2.5 years of building and piloting the WeFarm system in collaboration with smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Peru, and talk about our plans for achieving large scale usage of WeFarm among our network of 280,000 smallholder farmers over the next 2 years.

Organization : Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation


Kenneth Ewan

Programme Manager, Cafedirect Producers’ Foundation

Tablet and mobile applications to support evidence based decision-making – case study

As part of the call for proposals for grants for small technical projects, IDS KS funded developers, Gebre Wallace, Matthew McNaughton and Jonathon Smith of the Caribbean Open Institute (COI), which is housed Mona School Of Business, University Of The West Indies, Jamaica, to develop a tablet application Agricultural Research Evidence Assistant (AREA).The Agriculture Research-based Evidence Assistant (AREA) is an innovative Android tablet application that combines the academic research found in the IDS KS API, with related agricultural data indicators in the World Bank Open Data API, and current events and news trends, powered by Microsoft’s Bing News Search API. The goal of the app is provide multi-tiered access to information, in the form of research publications, macro statistics and current events, to provide a novel approach to evidence-based decision making.AREA specifically targets professionals, policy makers, and academics with interests in the agriculture domain, providing mobile and on-demand visual access and representation of thematic indicators related to agriculture, such as production yields, arable land, rural population percentages, both on a national levels as well as country comparisons.The team were responding to a direct need as they had been involved in the first Jamaican open data initiative, which centred around a collaboration with the Ministry Of Agriculture (MOA). The team saw first-hand how greater access to agricultural information could be utilized by a number of ministry stakeholders, ranging from farmers who utilized price information to managers who could use data aggregates to visualize the whole sector.Extending the application in the future is possible. Areas that could be added are: adding additonal data sets (perhaps single niche datasets or perhaps an array of general sets to provide a “Research Assistant” functionality), including other World Bank indicators and visualisations.


Duncan Edwards

Information Systems Innovation Manager, Institute of Development Studies

Professionalisation of agriculture trough ICT (Rwanda case)

With the combined efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, MINAGRI, its agencies and development partners, Rwanda is building up a strong force of proximity extension agents who work directly with the farmer groups to assist them to increase productivity, improve the quality and to reduce post-harvest losses. At the same time, a lot of valuable extension material (printed, audio and visual) is produced. However to provide an easy and quick access for the proximity extension agents to that extension material were remaining a challenge. On that point, ICT came in to significantly increase the access and use of all kinds of practical extension material on time (quick and easy access), market searching and insuring agricultural production by putting in place weather station information capturing system for agricultural insurance program. ICT in Agriculture is increasingly important not only in Rwanda but also in the world. It is an emerging field focusing on the enhancement of agricultural and rural development through improved information and communication processes.MINAGRI/Rwanda is not left behing as mentioned above, to boost agricultural sector different ICT initiatives put in place such as: 

  • Farmers extension Website ( with easy access, touch screen, picture relating to the content looking for , etc)
  • Market Price information System –eSoko ( accessible by using mobile phone or internet connection) 
  • ICT use in Weather Insurance (Agricultural insurance known as “Hinga Urishingiwe”in Kinyarwanda) insuring farmers on agricultural production, effectively reduce the impact of severe weather and support increased investment in farm productivity.
 These applications among others are showing a big impact in agricultural transformation because they are supporting and assuring farmers on their production increment and market them. For that we can say that agriculture is now toward market oriented by ICT for agricultural professionalized.


Angelique Uwimana

MIS Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources Professionalisation of agriculture trough ICT (Rwanda case)