20
May

Deploying ICT in agriculture to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals

(L to R) Dr Shaun Ferris, Director, Agricultural Livelihoods, Catholic Relief Services, Ms Zebby BA Simiyu, Executive Director, Good Neighbors Community Development Initiative, Mr Willy K Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya, Ms Janet Mumo, CEO, Kitui Development Centre and Dr Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT. Photo: CRS

(L to R) Dr Shaun Ferris, Director, Agricultural Livelihoods, Catholic Relief Services, Ms Zebby BA Simiyu, Executive Director, Good Neighbors Community Development Initiative, Mr Willy K Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Kenya, Ms Janet Mumo, CEO, Kitui Development Centre and Dr Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT. Photo: CRS

Technology providers, policy makers, donors, practitioners, private sector and civil society came together to discuss how information and communication technologies (ICTs) will enable us to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

At the ICT4D2016 conference, a panel discussion “The Sustainable Development Goals: Not just Pie in the Sky: ICT is Key” focused on new opportunities for public private partnerships to realize the SDGs. The panel was optimistic about achieving the SDGs but also recognized the need for coordinated and strategic contributions of different sectors to support social, economic and environmental development.

Dr David Bergvinson, Director General, ICRISAT, hosted another panel to explore ‘Partnerships to Realize a Digital Revolution in Agriculture in Service of Realizing the SDGs before 2030’. Panelists highlighted the importance of agriculture for the Kenyan economy and the huge potential of ICT for this sector. Kenya’s track record in rolling out ICT solutions for smallholder farmers such as mPesa that links farmers to finance was highlighted. iCow was another example to support farmers to increase dairy production and profitability. A panelist shared that in Ketui, youth are excited to apply ICT to make agriculture a commercially attractive enterprise. There has been an evolution from development agencies pushing technologies to farmers, to farmers demanding technologies with better access to information even in remote regions. Dr Bergvinson emphasized that technologies need to be relevant and be affordable to enjoy high rates of adoption. Business models need to be better understood to ensure that the solutions are sustainable and scalable.

The conference highlighted the critical need to rethink Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation (MLE) systems to support development outcomes. Technology providers, practitioners and donors shared best practices to capture, analyze, visualize data to inform decisions to support agile programs that respond to the needs of society. These inputs will be used to drive and design ICRISAT’s new MLE framework to support the implementation of country strategies through strong interactive programs.

The event held in Nairobi recently brought together 700 participants from over 60 countries. The theme of the event was ‘Innovation to Impact’. The agenda for the conference focused on:

  • ICT solutions that are having significant impact in development, including the launch of the SDG ICT Playbook.
  • Government ICT strategies, their implementation, and challenges and experiences to date.
  • The intersection between government ICT strategies and the goals and strategies of private sector businesses and civil society organizations operating in the same geographies.
  • The structure of cross-sector partnerships and business models for ICT solution delivery.

To find out more about ICRISAT’S contribution towards achieving the SDGs

 Insights from the conference can be reviewed on Twitter (#ICT4D2016).

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