Information & Communication Technology (ICT)
ICT ENHANCES EFFECTIVENESS, EFFICIENCY AND REACH OF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
Information communication technologies (ICTs) can provide farmers, entrepreneurs and others in emerging economies with market information vital to their work and success. ACDI/VOCA continues to lead the way on how to best integrate ICTs into economic development approaches and project designs to improve results for beneficiaries.
A lack of timely and accurate information is a significant barrier to competitiveness for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which are now widely recognized as the prime engine of growth in most of the developing world. To address this gap, ACDI/VOCA uses ICT and other multimedia technologies to stimulate and meet increased local demand for market information. We also use ICTs to provide farmers and other beneficiaries with much-needed credit information and technical knowledge, assistance and services.
ICTs Spur Economic Growth in East Africa
In Kenya, Malawi and Uganda ACDI/VOCA has incorporated the use of market information centers, cell phones with SMS text, weekly e-mails and radio bulletins to provide farmers with weather, market and other information.
ICTs Build Extension Services in India
In India ACDI/VOCA helps to build effective private sector-sponsored extension services for horticultural farmers, which includes the adoption of appropriate ICT delivery mechanisms such as hand-held PDAs in conjunction with cell phones.
ICTs Strengthen Nutrition in Egypt
In Egypt ACDI/VOCA developed a series of television and radio spots to promote the safe handling of milk, better animal husbandry and the nutritional benefits of milk products to lower rates of infant and child malnutrition. The television spots were aired by Al Jazeera, and as a result, the public’s improved awareness, adoption of better practices and consumption of dairy products far surpassed expectations. ACDI/VOCA also developed the popular and long-running Serr Al Ard television series, which uses a lively soap opera format to subtly communicate agricultural extension messages.
ICTs Extend Market Reach in Ethiopia, Vietnam
In Ethiopia ACDI/VOCA assisted the ECafe Foundation and other local stakeholder institutions to organize the first internet auction of African coffees. It generated more than $187,000 for the farmers, at an average price of $3.22 per pound compared to the market price of $1.30 (an overall premium of $75,000 was paid for these extraordinary coffees). All proceeds were distributed to the cooperatives. The second such auction, conducted in August 2006, earned over a quarter of a million dollars.
In Vietnam ACDI/VOCA developed a website for the Vietnamese Association of Rural Industrial Small and Medium Enterprises (VARISME), which allows the association to sell space to its members on an internet-enabled searchable English language product database. This will significantly extend the members’ market reach.
ICTs Help Farmers Fight Crop Pests
The Sustainable Cocoa Enterprise Solutions for Smallholders (SUCCESS) Alliance, an ACDI/VOCA-led partnership between public, private and nonprofit organizations that promotes the sustainable cultivation and marketing of cocoa by smallholders in four countries, disseminated pest control and quality control information through mass media, including radio programs developed by program partner Overseas Strategic Consulting that were broadcast throughout the cocoa-growing areas of Sulawesi, reaching 270,000 farmers.