The role of ICTs in agriculture development regional Media Forum: Special focus on community telecentres ( Southern Africa), takes place on 13th October, 2011, at Cresta View Hotel, Lusaka Zambia. The event will be hosted by SATNET and PANOS.
ICTs IN AGRICULTURE:
It is clear that ICTs have brought to the fore, new ways of doing things. There is realization that ICTs should be integrated to be effectively used in agriculture development as facilitating tools to boost its impact to the lives of farmers. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have shown evidence for easier access to markets and information resources. The role of ICTs to stimulate agriculture, enhance food security and support rural livelihoods is increasingly recognized and was officially endorsed at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2003-2005. The computers, internet, geographical information systems, mobile phones, as well as traditional media such as radio or TV stimulates participation enhances value to productivity. Evidence of the contribution of ICT to agricultural development and poverty alleviation is becoming increasingly available.
Due to opportunities and unique services community telecentres and local multimedia centres do provide to the rural communities in Africa, the role of these local entities should be embraced in order to achieve much talked about universal access and stimulate regional economic development. Telecentres provide facilitating roles to agriculture development such as market information access, issues of climate change, and centres for knowledge and information exchange. They also provide a huge potential for knowledge centres and e- governance services as well as avenues for ICT awareness and literacy for the local communities. As such telecentres should be adopted as main catalyst role for agriculture in urban and rural areas of Southern Africa.
Forum is expected to contribute to the creation of awareness, bringing key issues to discussion and facilitate acceleration towards integrating ICTs and resolve some of the challenges in agriculture development in Southern Africa. The forum will be attended by a number of media organizations and related institutions in the agriculture. The Forum will have an opportunity to learn from innovative telecentres cases from the Republic of Tanzania.
The media forum is being carried out as part of the process to raise awareness and stimulate action from within public and private sector for increased awareness, investments and innovation practices in ICTs for rural development particularly how telecentres can effectively support agriculture in Southern Africa
The main objectives of the ICT agriculture media Forum are:
i. To raise public awareness on the importance and role of ICTs and telecentres in agricultural development in Southern Africa.
ii. To stimulate public policy responses from the government and its agencies on the status of policy implementation and strategies on ICTs and agriculture
iii. To provide an overview on the challenges and options for increased and sustained use of ICTs in agricultural development with a focus to rural telecentres.
iv. To showcase presentations on existing ICT innovations and interventions in the agriculture sector
i. Initiated public debate on policy issues affecting ICTs and agriculture development
ii. Commitments from public sector agencies on ICT policy
iii. Accelerated interventions and innovations on ICTs and agriculture
iv. Increased public awareness and recognized role of community telecentres in agricultural marketing and development
v. Wider news coverage and reported pieces of information on the status of ICTs, agriculture and community telecentres in major media houses and website.