The history of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) use in the Agriculture of Bangladesh is not so rich. In 2003, Support to ICT, task force program launched by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA BD). In Bangladesh, private sector operators are the main providers of ICTs (mobile phones, computers and internet, television channels, radio, and fixed-line telephony on a limited scale), whereas the state controls the fixed-line telephony and two national TV channels and 10 radio centers. The government also formulates and implements ICT policy.
The majority of Bangladeshi and international NGOs working with ICTs are now developing community information centers in the country to facilitate information transmittal to the rural people. Some NGOs partners with private organizations or local government include- Gonokendras of BRAC, D.NET-Pallitathaya Kendra, GP-Communication Information Center, RDA (Bogra), Dam (Gonokendra), Ghat-Rural ICT Center, YCMC (Youth Community Multimedia Center), RTC of Practical Action, Amader Gram of BEFS , BNNRC, Bangladesh Computer Council, AIS of the Ministry of Agriculture, Hridoye Mati o Manush by Channel–I and Coast Bangladesh etc.
Recognizing the role that information can play in improving the livelihoods of the poor, NGOs began to look at tele-centers as a means of information sharing. In Bangladesh, telecentre development has been spearheaded by Grameenphone, Amader Gram and the Society for Economic and Basic Advancement (SEBA). Later, BRAC (the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) set up community learning centers (Gono Kendra) throughout Bangladesh, and Grameenphone has set up a Community Information Centre (GPCIC) in each Upazilla (Thana). A D.Net project has stressed the importance of livelihoods content in local dialects and has developed a content compendium and tested the impact of this among villagers through Pallitathya Kendra (Rural Information Centers) in four districts in 2005.
While implementing, they found it most challenging to understand the problems related to Agricultural Information of rural people. Recently Agricultural Information Service has piloted 10 farmers community based Call Centers in rural areas. The Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working together to make agricultural market information available. Mobiles are increasingly being used in rural villages. Grameen’s Village Phone Project has helped expand the rural mobile base. There are presently more than 122,000 village cell phone women who have the potential to connect poor farmers to a market price information system.
Mobile phones an alternative for both data collection and dissemination. There is a great dissatisfaction with prices and market information, in particular among farmers. 80 % of farmers say they would go to some other market to sell if prices were better there, and almost 60 % say they would use mobile phones to get such information (Islam and Gronlund, 2007). The system provides full awareness of all parties of prevailing market prices. Another mobile operating company Banglalink launched a new e-service for the farmers ‘Banglalink Jigyasa 7676’ which will provide suggestions and answers to any queries related to agriculture, vegetables and fruit farming, poultry, livestock, fisheries etc. The service will give people with easy access to advice and solutions to agriculture-related problems. To avail the service a Banglalink customer needs to dial 7676, talk and get expert’s advice on the problem.
ICTs can improve the quality and availability of public and private services to the rural poor of the country. Benefits arise from reorientation of the service provision from the supply to the demand side, making it more responsive to the needs of the rural poor.
ICTs allow services to be delivered to a large number of people at low variable costs, with consequent efficiency gains in service provision.
ICTs increase the timely and transparent flow of information between service providers and the users. This strengthens the ability of service providers to swiftly respond to the needs of the rural poor and of service users to demand the services they need and to monitor service delivery.
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Source: Unnayan Onneshan
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