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The Potential of ICT for Agriculture in Bangladesh

Many people in Bangladesh believe that ICT in Agriculture is like an infantile while others think differently. The world is becoming a global tech village and we need to think about its use in agriculture.

Bangladesh agriculture is a very important contributor in the country's GDP  with the figures from the Ministry of Agriculture showing its total contribution in 2015 was approximately 16.33%.

So how can ICT more enhance agricultural development in Bangladesh?

Let's talk about ICT in agriculture.

ICT in agriculture refers to all terms when used in the agricultural sector for the benefit of agricultural sector. Over the last 10-15 years, ICT has changed the way the world works, but there has not been a desirable change in agriculture in Bangladesh. In 2015, the ICT Development Index statistics showed Bangladesh is ranked 144th globally when it comes to adoption of ICT.

Historically, Bangladesh is not on the frontline as far as ICT in agriculture is concerned. In 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a task force to support ICT. In Bangladesh, private sector operators are the main providers of ICTs. This has resulted to many organizations launching different agricultural program to support agriculture for development.

As per the statistic of BTRC, the total number of mobile phone subscriptions has reached 133.16 million by November 2015. Therefore, Informative voice SMS, alerts to the farmer before natural disasters, weather forecast, seasonal activity information etc. can be sent through SMS in local language.

Social Media can also take integral part for ICT development in agriculture. Knowledge, problems and solutions can be shared between farmers and extension workers through social media. 

In the modern world, communication can be done through cellular phones, computer, network system, satellite systems etc. with the farmers. Agri Call Centers is one of the best reliable and timely actionable communication method in the world and that can consist of technology center, helpline and experts in the field. Production and cultivation suggestion, diseases and insect Information, latest market price information can be given to the farmer by using Agri Call centers.

The ICT Based e-Agri Support Module 

For sustainable development of agriculture and national economy to emphasis on ICT and its use in agriculture very important. In order to get entire agricultural services in the same boundaries we should introduce the "central e-agri support center". This can be an excellent initiative feature for agricultural revolution and economic development. Where all the e-features such as strong agricultural website, e-agri. library, e-agri product marketing, agri share marketing, agri loan facility and crop insurance support, e-agricultural extension services, agri database, Agri Call Centers, Bangla voice SMS and e-mail service, e-agri conferences & e-training service, overall agri. survey and monitoring team etc. can be included in "central e-agri. support center". Furthermore, different agri. apps, upcoming hi-fi technology can be launched in modern agricultural system. Agri. field survey and monitoring can be done by drone camera or wireless camera systems. ICT based agricultural education can also launch in agricultural sector by using different tools of ICT.

Visible Impact can be seen after change the way of use ICT in agriculture. That’s may bring relief of farmers from different troubles as well as farmers economic, social and living standard will be increased. Product demand-supply flow can maintain by creating communication channel with the producer and seller. Disorganized market can also organize through ICT in agriculture. Right to information and easy to access in agricultural information can be ensured by strong establishment of ICT in agriculture. Maintenance of information flow is not only possible all over the country but also possible all over the world by proper establishment of ICT in agriculture.

We know that, the different barriers can destroy the dream in embryonic stage. The main barriers are ICT in agriculture is modern technologies adaptation, unskilled person for operating, inadequate farmer knowledge, lack of infrastructure, lack of financial support, lack of technical support, lack of innovation, lack of research etc. Unavailability of modern technology service center in all over the counter that is also serious barrier in ICT in agriculture. Unavailability of e-services provider, lack of training program for the farmer, costly technology etc. are also vital problem for extending the ICT in agriculture. Unauthorized accesses can also harmful for the ICT sector. 

We need a strong protective measure to overcome all the barriers. The government should take holistic initiatives to promote ICT by taking positive steps such as tax and import duty cuts on ICT equipment’s, promoting ISP services, etc. in order to improve the situation. There needs to be infrastructural development and technology transfer throughout the country to diffuse ICT knowledge even to the remote regions of the country. Regular training expedition with operator and farmer, technologies adaptation capacity increase, service center establishment, regular technology monitoring, unauthorized access or hacker attack must be controlled to improve for the development ICT in agriculture. Those who are involved with agricultural industry also need information and knowledge to manage their occupation efficiently.

ICT in Agriculture is a tool for information generation and dissemination. Its outputs are basically service-oriented. However, computer and mobile network based modeling could be undertaken to provide all information for marginal users. 

ICT in agriculture statistically and actually is not advanced and developed tools in our country. We need to improve a lot for adapting these tools. We need also collaboration with GO, NGOs, international organizations and others, which can support to effective development of ICT in agriculture. Besides, strong collaboration with public and private sector must have to have capacity of technology transfer through to actual end user.

However, ICT is the common term in the world but in agricultural sector the newest baby. ICT in agriculture is now under nursing stage. Consequently, we can say the ICT in agriculture is just like an infant.

 

Blogpost by Md. Tamzid Rahman a Student of IUBAT. E-mail: tamzidrahman7@gmail.com