Portable Telecentre: The Agriculture Extension tool to Go Deep in Rural Areas
More than 90% of Sudan agricultural sector especially farmers are digitally illiterate. The government spent lot of money in developing software but very soon they collapsed due to mismanagement, resistance to change, lack of ICT skills and trained staff. There is a big variation in crop prices and most of the time farmers sell their crops with low prices due to lack of information. There is severe conflict between farmers, shepherd (nomads) and forest department. The e-agriculture project is PPPP for community development. It provides good opportunities to invest in Telecentres for better sustainable development.
Telecentres are strong win-win public, people and private partnership (more than 87.000 Telecentres, in 52 countries, 72 national networks and 6 multi-lingual networks) sharing knowledge, experiences and best practices for the development of marginalized, disadvantage and underserved communities. Telecentres overcome barriers that limit the sustainable development, reduce the impact of poverty, empowering women through ICT and more than one million were trained the basic computer and internet courses 2014, include the excluded specially for people with disability. Telecentres are strong tools for eradication of the resources of illiteracy and improve the quality of education @ reduced costs through ICT.
Gedaref digital city organization (GDCO) is a civil society (NGO) in Gedaref Sudan and it is a member of the global Telecentres movement. GDCO is founded in partnership with Eindhoven Digital City (DSE) Netherlands and supported by many partners. DSE donated 750 computers and they were used for developing our community projects. Those challenges forced GDCO with its partners to find ways to tackle them. GDCO and its partners work together sharing knowledge, experiences and best practices for community development and developed big win-win public, private and people partnership (PPPP) projects including e-Agriculture, out of school children e-learning, connecting people with disability (e-education) and empowering women through ICT projects
16 AGRICULTURAL REPORTS in FEW SECONDS
Sudan was the biggest country in Africa when we started our e-agriculture project in 2007. In Sudan there is a big digital divide (gap) between rural and urban, women and men, able and disabled people. There are many children traveling with their families due to climate changes looking for better grazing area and water resources for their animals. Gedaref mechanized agriculture corporation (GMAC) is the biggest rain-fed mechanized agricultural scheme in Sudan. This scheme has a high potential of building a national food stock and provide hard currencies, which improve the economy of the country. GMAC is managing more than 10 million feddans (1 feddan = 1.038 acre) (this area not include small farmers) which require a lot of work to improve the crop production yield (both quality and quality) in a depleted soil. There is big digital divide within famers in Sudan. More than 90% of the agricultural sector especially farmers are digitally illiterate. The government spent lot of money in developing software but very soon they collapsed due to mismanagement, resistance to change and lack of ICT skills and trained staff. There is a big variation in crop prices and most of the time farmers sell their crops with low prices due to lack of information so they go out of business or get bankrupted. There is severe conflict between farmers, shepherd (nomads) and forest department. GDCO developed the e-agriculture project with Gedaref state government and many partners. The e-agriculture project is public, private, people partnership (PPPP) for community development. It provides good opportunities to invest in Telecentres and make them sustainable. It is the biggest future investment and social project in GDCO which aims to achieve the 8th millennium developments goals (MDGs) and the 17th sustainable development goals (SDG)
FUTURE : Agro-mobile Service in Partnership with Drishttee India
e-Agriculture project objectives
1) Agriculture development through ICT specially GIS & GPS and monitor agricultural resources from being depleted or eradicated
2) Development of national and global online crop marketing even for illiterates or low computer skills farmers to help them sell their products
3) Exchange of Knowledge and best practices between farmers to establish strong partnership to improve agricultural practices to Increase crop yield and decreasing cost of crop production
4) Enhance capacity building and improve the quality of training of the agricultural sector.
5) developing Gedaref State natural resources e-Map to help farmers monitoring their farms from any place through satellites (GPS).
6) Achieving the 8th millennium developments goals (8MDGs) and continue for sustainable development SDGs.
7) Disaster control and solving conflict between farmer, shepherd and forest
FUTURE: Cloud computing or EasyFarmer in Partnership with Raising-floor Organization
Implementation of e-Agriculture project
1- Establishing Telecentres in GMAC (15 computers) and Farmers Unions (20 computers) for training, capacity building and skill development and continuous ICT practicing
2- Developing huge database (software) for 10.000 farms/farmers at 10% of the tender cost
3- Crop and animal market web portal design
4- Developing strong win-win private, public, people partnership
5- training more than 100 GMAC staff the basic of the computers courses
6- empower training 30 agricultural engineers (GPS & GIS) which helps in detecting geographical co-ordinates of the farms which save the ministry of agriculture more than two hundred thousand US dollars.
Achievement of the e-Agriculture project
1a- Establishment of telecentres in GMAC and farmer unions which help in training and capacity building the basic computer science, AUTOCAD, GPS and GIS courses and continuous practicing in Telecentres which aims to capacity building and skill development of all stakeholders including scientists, extension workers, farmers, teachers, medical staff and medical students, students on use of ICTs in agriculture
1b- As a chair of GDCO Sudan I did the visibility study for the e-Agriculture project free with the guidance of dr. Tarig Abd-Elkarim Abd-Elfadil and managed the implantation of the project 3 years for free (volunteers) with the support of many volunteers from GDCO including Eng. Motasim Abass Mosaad, Eng. Sohaib Babiker Hamad. Eng. Wael Mamoon Safi, Eng. Munzir Ahmed Mahmoud AND MANY VOLUNTEERS
2- Including more than 10.000 farms/farmers in the system of GMAC which easy the transaction between farmers and GMAC in registration and renewing the farms license (before it is done manually in two to three days but now they can renew in few minutes). Although there is an e-system attacked by virus and the number of farmers/farms exceed 9999
3- more than 16 agricultural report are available in few minutes (agriculture Sector, Division, Name of the area, Demarcated or non- demarcated, Farm number, Area of the farm, Computer number, Renewal date, Amount paid, registration fees and whether the farm is planted or not and how many acres are planted and what type of crops) which helps the ministers, Leaders and mangers to take an accurate and quick decision.
4- Reduction in the cost of farms demarcation and determining the geographical coordinates (demarcation) because it is conducted by the trained agricultural engineers in GPS instead of being done by private companies (save more than 200,000 dollars in one year).
5- GDCO empower GMAC to develop Gedaref State national resource digital map (e-Map) using the geographical coordinates of the farms
6- using the e-Map to solve the conflict between farmers, shepherds and forest and help farmers to see their farms map from inside the office of GMAC and very soon in phase 2 will help farmers to manage their farms from any place through the geographical co-ordinates.
6- Online crop, vegetable and animal market including the daily quantities of crops and animal and prices in the market www.gedaref.com/markets these help farmers and traders easily sell and buy crops. Also provide a lot of information about the types, quality and quantity of crops are available which help in good planning for food security.
7- under-designed Agro-Mobile to provide 6 agricultural services (crop price, animal price, fertilizer application, weather, help desk, news break) by Drishttee (India) and modified by Rasing-Floor organization (Switzerland) and Wisconsin University (USA) to help even low skill computer or illiterate farmers to access the internet for crop prices (desktop or cloud computing) http://easy1234.org/sudan/
8- ICT for disaster control, where GDCO used the available information on the Internet for disaster control and a good example was in 2007 when the bird flu reached Gedaref state, GDCO designed a color poster and printed more than 3000 copies. This helped the government control the disease and this model can be replicated in malaria, HIV and also we use it for designing Ebola disease posters.
9- the future portable telecentres which can go deep in rural areas to provide integrated e-services including telemedicine, e-education and Internet cafes where they can be connected to the world
10- Development of strong partnerships between civil society, governments, private sector, academic and research institutions to support community services
11- Equal access and bridging the digital divide within the farmers and ICT becomes part of the culture and a priority in Gedaref state and people believe on its important socio-economic role for community development.
12- The extension content and the best practices developed in local languages and can be scaled and replicated all over Sudan so that the entire farming community can make use of it.
13- When GDCO start the project in 2007 more than 80% of GMAC staff they did not know how to use the computer mouse and now it is 100% computerized and all the agricultural engineers staff has many courses in GPS and GIS and they practice well.
14- Achievement of some of the 8th MDGs and Sharing experiences and best practices locally, nationally and globally towards the sustainable development goals by 2031.
GDCO still has a problem to establish most of its e-Agriculture project and its application specially the agro-mobile services and the portable Telecentres because we are facing many challenges including
1- ICT is not part of the culture and not a priority
2- Poverty & the big digital divide in developing countries
3- High cost of e-infrastructure, high government taxes and Power supply
4- Resistance to change within the senior governmental staff and lack of ICT skills and trained staff
Relevance of the project to the respective Action Line
This project is part of the wsis action line C7 on ICT applications with regard to e-agriculture. The project established through strong win-win public private people partnership for better implementation, sustainability and easy replication of the project in marginalized, underserved and disadvantage communities to connect the unconnected and no one is left behind by 2030 even illiterate farmers through cloud computing. The project promotes for the WSIS values in the Society including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs 2015) and will move to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030)
Future Potential of sustainability
The e-agriculture project has a high potential to sustain GDCO Telecentres
1- Very soon the online crop market and other services will be provided through GDCO website, voice mobile, SMS, e-mails and desktop application (cloud computing) even for illiterate or low computer skill farmers.
2- 40% from the telecommunication companies for each SMS or mobile calls in the agro-mobile services will go to support GDCO Telecentres
3- Revenue of training
4- income from Software development and visibility studies
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