June 2008

e-Agriculture News

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National Farmers Information Service to aid farmers of Kenya

In one of the major pathfinding initiatives, the Government of Kenya has launched National Farmers Information Service to expedite community farming. The initiative will enable the farming community to receive and exchange timely news and information on agriculture, weather patterns and other related issues through their mobile phones. Through this endeavour, the government of Kenya is planning to double its effort in boosting the agricultural productivity by implementing the necessary conducive policies. The government has extended a Kenya shillings 3.5 billion grant to the East African country as development assistance in this present financial year. The funds will be channelled to areas like roads, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and urban sectors while some funds will be allocated towards democracy and human rights initiatives. To ensure the sustainability of the service, the envoy called on the government to set aside some funds for it and also to develop modalities for attracting the participation of the private sector through cost sharing.

Clinics to support agricultural initiatives in Bangladesh

It yet another endeavour to integrate agriculture with information technology, the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of Bangladesh, has planned to provide agriculture clinics in aid of the rural farmers. The clinics will use mobile telecommunication networks and Internet to amass and disburse agro-business information to the farmers and community stakeholders. C S Karim, Agriculture Adviser, said in a recent meeting that Information Technology (IT) can play an important role in developing the country's agriculture. Karim further stated that Bangladesh could gain profit from international potato market if  potentials in the IT sectors are utilised.

FICCI to strengthen the mandi system in India

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), India which has prepared a road map for agri-marketing reforms, stated in one of its report that Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) regulated markets have to co-exist with other marketing channels that are presently shaping up.

FICCI pointed out that there was concern among various stakeholders about changes needed in the functioning and management of the mandis and how to make these markets competitive with other marketing platforms. It said, while allowing private mandis, the government must keep them out of the purview of APMC. FICCI has also suggested that the present mandis have to be professionally managed and revenue generated as market fees should be utilised for developing mandi infrastructure. In order to resolve disputes arising out of violation of contract, FICCI stated that there should be an institutional arrangement (may be at panchayat, state or central level) to record contractual arrangements. The report also recommended the government to facilitate food processing companies' direct procurement from farmers. The chamber has proposed that strategy groups, comprising of central and state government officials, private entrepreneurs and farmers, should be set up in every region to bring about uniformity in implementing APMC reforms across the states.

Bhutan to introduce modified agro-marketing system

The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Royal Government of Bhutan is all set to introduce an Agriculture Market Information System to cater to the need of farmers and people from the agro-retail business. The Ministry, in conjunction with the suggestion and recommendations of Agriculture Marketing Services (AMS), Information and Communication Services (ICS) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Department of Information Technology (DIT), Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC), converged on developing an agricultural marketing system that disseminates agriculture retail and auction prices in different markets throughout the country. MOA organised a discussion group to finalise the domain name and the name of the Agri-marketing system. The system will also help in generating different reports and market trends.  The system is going to be launched in June 2008. SRIT (Sobha Renaissance Information Technology), a Bangalore-based IT firm will help in the development and deployment of the system.       

Farmers market in Columbia to allow food stamps, debit cards   

First time, the Columbia Farmers Market will bring foods in the market with electronic food stamp cards and debit cards. This will be the first market in the state which will have wireless terminals by 2009. The wireless machines will cost $1,600 each. This movement is a part of the Missouri Department of Agriculture Speciality Crop Block Grant, which is designed to boost sales at markets and encourage low-income people. The programme will work by allowing people to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) or debit cards to buy tokens, which can then be used at the stalls. Project for Public Spaces, a New York-based not-for-profit organisation is providing funds for the project.

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