Rice information for farmers: free, accessible and fast

Information and Communications Technology paves a path for effective information delivery especially among smallholder farmers, thus, helping them improve farm productivity.

While there's a glut of information available on rice production brought about by information revolution, getting them to the marginalized farmers to boost productivity and aid in decision-making has always been a challenge. Recognizing this gap, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) designed an information and communication technology (ICT) tool that provides farmers with needed information to improve production through better crop and nutrition management.

Paolo Ficarelli, ICT expert at IRRI, said that “ICTs make a big difference in accelerating impact of research and improving extension services.” Ficarelli said that productivity gains are driven by several factors and these include knowledge access through extension. He cited that in India, 60% of farmers have no access to information, which could be contributory to the low and slow technology adoption.

Information delivery through extension services is wrought with pressing challenges like it entails huge cost and it is strongly based on human interaction and trust between farmers and extension workers.

An IRRI-led project, under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), would build on this existing information delivery tool for outscaling climate-smart agriculture technologies and climate-informed advisory services for rice, maize and wheat in South and Southeast Asia. 

The potentials and challenges of ICT as a platform in delivering information on rice are further discussed in the article: ICTs for scaling dissemination of research results to increase technology adoption and farmers' income.

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