CWA LAUNCHES ICT INITIATIVE PROJECT Tuesday 16th October 2012
The 2012 Caribbean Week of Agriculture (CWA) opened its activities on Friday 12 October 2012 in St John, Antigua, with the a stakeholder meeting to discuss the launch of a project on strengthening ICT in agriculture value chains in the Caribbean.
This project will be implemented by the CARDI with the support of the Technical Centre of Agriculture and Rural Development (CTA).
The Value chains are an approach extensively used nowadays which puts the focus on consolidating the links between the various segments of agricultural activities and services, in order to improve productivity, business and the performance of the sector. It implies that communication tools are efficiently used to enhance the exchange and dissemination of strategic information including market information. CARDI, in collaboration with CTA, has developed the project taking advantage of the increased use of new information technologies in the agricultural sector in the Region and of the proven potentials of ICT innovations, such as new generations of market information systems, mobile applications used in extension services, etc.
The project purpose is to document and review the integration of ICT tools in agricultural value chains in the Caribbean (as compared to global best practices), design recommendations to meet challenges, and work with stakeholders towards the implementation of these recommendations.
The one day meeting held on 12 October in the framework of the CWA was the initial activity of the project. It aimed to inform key stakeholders of the initiative and to collect their feedback and recommendations on the study to be implemented as well on as potential follow-up activities.
The consultation brought together 18 Caribbean stakeholders including value chain and ICT experts. They came from several countries and from public, private and regional institutions such as the CARICOM Secretariat, Garnet Technologies Inc, Visions Caribbean Communication, the University of West Indies, GeoInformatics, ECTAD, InfoComm Technology.
Discussions focused on the development of the terms of reference of the study: key concepts and issues of the study; brief assessment of the Regional current state with regards to ICT deployment in agricultural value chains; exchange about the commodities and value chains segments that will be the focus of the study; suggestions on some key stakeholders and projects to be documented or consulted; discussions about the research approaches and the target countries; consultant qualifications; research deliverables, etc.
Five target countries have been selected for the study (Trinidad, Belize, Jamaica, Barbados and St. Kitts), and desk research will help to capture innovations in, and interact with other countries of Region. International innovations that may be adapted in the region will be identified. Apart from documenting ICT applications and potentials along all value chains segments, specific focus will be put on one or two commodities such as roots and tubers.Following the study, the innovations identified will be promoted and the implementation of selected pilot initiatives will be proposed.
The participants insisted on the importance to work on non-ICT factors that actually prevent the technology to be harnessed to the agriculture sector. These challenges include the limited understanding of the ICT by agricultural stakeholders, lack of trust, the need of financial resource to replicate or scale-up pilot innovations.
The meeting was closed by CARDI’s director Dr Arlington Chesney and Ken Lohento, ICT4D Programme Coordinator of the CTA.
CTA has been a historical partner and funder of the CWA. It is a joint organization founded by African, Caribbean and Pacific and European Union countries since 1984; it is funded by the European Union. Its mission is to strengthen policy and institutional capacity development and information and communication management capacities of ACP agricultural and rural development organisations.
The CARDI’s role include to provide for the research and development needs of the agriculture of the Region as identified in national plans and policies and to provide and extend the application of new technologies in production, processing, storage and distribution of agricultural products.
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