Web 2.0 in Africa - Agriculture and New Technologies - Web2forDev
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How can you exchange the maximum of information and expertise with the maximum amount of people? The answer is Web 2 A mini internet revolution that is even proving its effectiveness among Ugandan farmers. A report by Fréderic Durandroit and Eric Mounier. With the forum and the blog I learnt how to grow bananas, vegetables and raise pigs and chickens. On internet we have forums with the farmers, we call them around, we share the ideas ... and also tell them what we got on the internet, and they can practice in the villages. With the African continent lagging behind in terms of Internet access, an innovative experiment ... is underway in Uganda with farmers exchanging information and expertise directly on the world-wide web. An experiment that owes much to what is known as second generation Internet – or Web2. Everyone is familiar with the initial principal of the Net: an enormous global network that gives computer users access to any on-line site in the world. Web2 is a mini revolution enabling each Internet user to share his or her knowledge. With Web2 we are talking about a different way of working together... it’s a way of sharing information. Before you had to go to a web sites, now you can share that information locally using free tools... so it is something that everybody can use and something that everybody can benefit from using. Web2 includes blogs, forums and wiki-style encyclopaedias with users actively contributing. Site content is no longer solely provided by an organisation or experts. The reader becomes a writer. The most famous example being Wikipedia, a universal encyclopaedia ‘written’ by the internet users themselves. More democratic and participative, Web2 is fast becoming a worldwide success. But how does all this benefit African farmers who generally don’t have access to computers or the Net? The Brosdi association has established a wide-reaching network of farmers in order to share farming techniques and improve yields. The Internet has changed to the effect that it’s more interactive... you can have people through your web site, that can communicate to you and get feed back, which was not the case in the past. The Brosdi site provides dozens of technical files from farmers on agricultural techniques. You will find out how to grow bananas, sink a well, raise ducks and pigs, grow pumpkins … and there is even the latest information on the best markets to sell produce. 1001 questions about rural life in other words. The site is the fruit of meetings between farmers that take place at least once a month. Their first-hand expertise is shared and compared before being presented on the Internet. They seat together as a group, then they choose one person to take lead, in a knowledge sharing forum... they choose a crop or animal of their interest and other members also contribute on how they do it at home ... and they share information on how to do certain activities. Today we are in Manaka province to study banana cultivation. Each participant contributes his own experience and particular techniques. Different approaches are discussed and evaluated. Each person’s results are assessed before an appointed secretary records the conclusions in the form of precise technical guidelines. How to grow bananas? You have to get an available land. You have to slash the land. After slashing the land, you burn, but ... in most cases we do not burn, we put those you have slashed aside ... We get the voice from the village, from the farmers, after we get the voices, ... we put them on the computer. I try to edit, and put on the web to share that knowledge. The information is also presented on the Net in English ... and local languages with hard copies available on paper and CD for villages with no Internet access. Text messages are also sent to farmers. Sometimes the messages are long but at least farmers have instant access. From the blog and the forum, I learnt how to make compost for vegetables and bananas ... and now I don’t need to buy compost from the market. And the money I earn with the vegetables, pumpkins and bananas can be used for paying school fees. In just a few months Florence has doubled his production of bananas. Natural compost saves him money and means he has been able to start producing pumpkins. Although the Brosdi Internet site – by farmers for farmers – is something of an exception in Africa... ... Web2 is being put to other uses in rural Africa. Take Wikiforêt – the only e-encyclopaedia devoted to the central African forest and composed entirely of user input. One of the objectives of ‘wikiforêt’ is to make sure local African expertise ... can be highlighted in a context where Africa’s wealth of knowledge is wasting away. A participative, interactive encyclopaedia written by researchers, farmers... city dwellers and forest-dwellers keen to share their experience and know-how. With its potential for development Web2 is attracting increasing interest from international organisations. Here in Holland at the headquarters of the CTA, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation. The CTA is a European Union-funded organisation ... whose mission is to give farmers from African, Caribbean and Pacific nations better access to information. Fortunately Africa’s lack of internet access, equipment and even computer skills ... are not impossible obstacles to overcome. The prospects are very good indeed. I’m thinking about things like Wifi, computing and what is called Wimax computing. You will be able to have very good local connectivity at a local level, at a village level, at a town level... but perhaps the connection to the internet will be not very good, and so with time you’ll get better internet connections. While waiting for Internet use to become more widespread on the continent... initiatives such as Brosdi and Wikiforêt show that poor access to the Web can be countered.. with a combination of traditional and contemporary communication. Examples of local information gathering and sharing that should inspire other organisations of farmers... to preserve their local know-how and increase their revenue. For any further information, just visit the CTA website. The address in at the bottom of your screen.
Duration: 8 minutes and 32 seconds
Producer: People TV & CTA
Posted by: giacomo on Sep 12, 2008
An eight minute Business Africa/CTA video production documenting actual cases on the use of Web 2.0 applications in the development sector, specifically among farmers in Africa.
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