USP facilitates Thematic Session at Regional Forum on ICT for Agriculture
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Associate Professor Bibhya Sharma of FSTE presents at the ICT4Ag Innovations for Value Chain Development workshop.
A team from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) facilitated the workshop on ICT4Ag Innovations for Value Chain Development at the Regional Forum on Developing Pacific Local Food Crops and Fisheries Value Chains, which was held from 7 to10 May at the Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva, Fiji.
USP’s team of staff and students led by Associate Professor Bibhya Sharma, were part of one of four (4) thematic workshops and included discussions on the role and impact of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Agriculture, Novel ICT applications for Pacific Agri-Food and Nutrition Systems: Focus on Fiji, key innovations in ICT for agriculture, critical success factors for ICT4Ag in value chain and agribusiness development, and critical prerequisites and success factors for developing and optimising ICT4Ag tools for the Pacific.
The aim of the workshop was to identify key innovations and critical success factors that could contribute to the wider adoption of ICT4Ag solutions and applications in the agri-food and nutrition system in the Pacific, eventually leading to definite action plans for various stakeholders.
It addressed questions on how the agricultural community, especially farmers on remote islands can take greater advantage of ICTs to improve production and market efficiencies, and if there are existing ICT Pacific applications and platforms or success stories from other regions that could be better optimised.
A consultancy assignment was undertaken by USP staff and students led by Associate Professor Sharma on Novel ICT Applications for Pacific Agri-Food and Nutritious Systems: Best Practices, Gaps and Opportunities in Fiji.
The findings and recommendations of this study were validated and existing ICT solutions and applications in use by key stakeholders from the wider region and beyond with potential for regional adoption were evaluated.
Associate Professor Sharma said that ICT is an innovation on its own, not only to make applications for enhanced accessibility, but to communicate with the stakeholders on the need to bridge the ICT gap, adding that communication is a key component of ICT.
Participants of the ICT4Ag Innovations for Value Chain Development workshop.
He informed the participants that as part of the study, the team found some of the challenges faced by the farmers and these include poor literary level, lack of reliable connectivity in rural areas, and lack of purchasing power in these areas as well.
One of the recommendations by the team was to have current ICT tools which could be used in Agriculture and Fisheries sectors for their sustainable development in Fiji, such as the MPaisa and Fiji Makete platforms.
They also recommended potential ICT tools, which could be used in the Agriculture and Fisheries sectors for their sustainable development in Fiji and these include SolarSpell, Agricultural Intelligence Information System (AGINTEL), Agri-Ledger, Training workshops, education, OERs and awareness of blockchain technology and 3D Printers, and agriculture robotics.
The participants of the workshop drew up action plans for better use of ICTs in Agriculture. These plans are divided into three (3) broad categories:
Communication - National & Regional needs analysis/market research/revisit policies, communications and marketplace database platform, development, testing and deployment of communication tools, and research and development;
Transportation - Coordinating and networking of transportation systems; and
Smart Agriculture- Adaptive Sensor based systems and modelling.
The session presentations can be found at https://dgroups.org/cta/innov4agpacific/
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