CTA's electronic observatory
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CTA. 1998. CTA's electronic observatory. Spore 77. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/48220
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore77.pdf
CTA's electronic observatory meeting was held at CTA headquarters on 16 and 17 June 1998
The unceasing waves of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) offer much to agricultural development in ACP States. Ranging from participatory geographical information systems (GIS) which use satellite photos to support land tenure programmes, through the use of hand-held computers to diagnose crop disease, to the use of electronic mail and the Internet to link farmers' cooperatives to market information across borders and continents, the practical value of computer technologies gets clearer by the day. The use and potential of ICTs has been a recurrent theme in CTA's work for several years. The CTA seminar on 'The role of information for rural development in ACP countries' held in Montpellier, France, in June 1995 concluded that 'these modern technologies offer new and multiple perspectives, such as faster and better-focused access to information'. It was recommended that a 'technology watch will be necessary, to track the evolution of these technologies, and to enable stakeholders in ACP countries to draw maximum benefit from them.' That 'watch' body has now evolved into the CTA Observatory on information and communication technologies. It has the task of informing the agricultural community on appropriate technologies for information management and communication. The Observatory is a body of experts with experience in the introduction of ICTs in ACP countries and related initiatives in Europe. Its first meeting was held at CTA headquarters on 16 and 17 June 1998, and had participants from six ACP countries, six European countries and international governmental and non-governmental bodies. With the aim of monitoring and making accessible trends in ICT uses, the major task of the Observatory is to be well-informed about recent experiences, current projects and programmes, and planned initiatives. The June meeting studied three levels in depth: policy-making, capacity building and applications. The issues in which CTA has a role to play include ensuring that the agricultural sector is represented in existing and planned ICT initiatives, promoting more integrated policies at national and regional level; ensuring support for thematic and cross-sectoral networks; supporting information flows on appropriate policies (such as pricing and tax reforms); and encouraging the broad participation of stakeholders (NGOs, private sector, civil society), with attention to gender issues. At policy level, there is work to be done in sensitising ICT professionals to the agricultural sector, and the sector to ICTs. Capacity building priorities lie in providing sustainable training and support in the use and management of ICTs, with special emphasis on providing regular, reliable information on the World Wide Web. CTA was invited to consider applications which support rural telecentres, the dissemination of rural radio in digital form through the Internet, software libraries, and Spore online. The Observatory stressed the importance of cooperation with specialised ICT bodies and initiatives in other sectors, and the exchange of information and experiences. CTA's own ICT activities, and a discussion forum to develop the ideas launched and the initiatives described at the meeting, are featured on CTA's own Website (www.cta.nl), which also hosts the online edition of Spore