Posts Tagged ‘ICT4D’

Research on “Mobile Phones for Agricultural Development in Sri Lanka”

March 17, 2010

sameera_research Mobile Phone for Agriculture

Interviewing farmers in Dambulla (Sri Lanka)

With the exponential growth of mobile telephony in developing world, mainly in Asia, Africa and Latin America, the mobile phone has become one of the best channels to reach the rural farmers.

Here in Sri Lanka, already there are some mobile phone (telephone) based initiatives to provide the agricultural and other related services. In this research some of the existing initiatives were studied to understand the reasons for success/failure and new ways for improvements;

Following are three main initiatives studied;

1920 – Toll Free Agrarian advisory service by Ministry of Agriculture
1919 – Government Information Centre, Telephone Service
GovSMS – SMS based Agricultural Commodity Price Dissemination

The survey was conducted in Dambull (in Central Province of Sri Lanka) area with hundred (100) vegetable and fruit farmers and covered many areas such as;
Agricultural information requirements of farmers, practical challenges, their existing information sources, their perceptions and expectations with regard to mobile telephony in agriculture, technical aspects, financial aspects, etc.

Hoping to share some of the findings here in the future.



Telecentre Management Course by IGNOU

February 25, 2010

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)

“Telecentres are not sustainable; it is just waste of money”.

Let’s stop blaming telecentres, understand what went wrong and what went well. Let’s get things corrected. Now we should promote Telecentre Management as a profession not as just looking after some computers in a rural hut.

Starting a Telecentre Management Course is a really good and timely initiative by The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) together with other likeminded organizations.

Telecentre Management Course Contents;

CTCM-01: Fundamentals of Telecentres
CTCM-02: Understanding Community Needs
CTCM-03: Community Informatics
CTCM-04: Planning a Telecentre
CTCM-05: Telecentre Management Techniques
CTCM-06: Qualities of Telecentre Operators
CTCM-07: Basic IT Skills
CTCM-08: Content and Services in Telecentres
CTCM-09: Community Use of Telecentre
CTCM-10: Information Management at Telecentres
CTCM-11: Promoting Your Telecentre
CTCM-12: Assessing the Progress of Telecentres

It is good to hear that the course is going to be available in 10 international languages making it accessible to Telecentre Operators in other developing countries.


Jaffna and Northern Province of Sri Lanka trying to Regain its Glory

January 20, 2010

Welcome to Jaffna Peninsula

Recently I visited Jaffna peninsula and other Northern parts of the island. On my way to Jaffna through A9 road, which is now opened for civilians, I could witness the massive destruction in Kilinochchi and other small towns due to the long civil war.

Anyway that horrible war is over now, people have new hopes about their future and sustainable socio-economic development in Northern Province.

There is a very high potential in those areas. We will see so many investments flowing in to those areas soon. Conducive environment is being created in Jaffna and other areas. The literacy rate in the Northern Province is 92.5 present and finding human resources would not be a tough challenge for any investor.

Other infrastructure requirements such as road access, electricity, water supply, communication facilities are being developed. The tallest multi purpose telecommunication tower (172 m) in Sri Lanka is being built in Kokavil near Kilinochchi town.

The mobile phone subscribers’ growth from 11 million to 13 million during the last six months of year 2009 was mainly due to the new subscribers from post conflicted Northern and the Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka.

Hope new development initiatives in Northern Province will keep our innocent tamil children in schools instead of bunkers in the future.


Dialog tradenet – Agricultural Commodity Prices via Mobile Phones

December 24, 2009


Minister of Trade, Marketing Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, Bandula Gunawardena, is addressing gathering at the launch on 22nd December 2009.

Dialog Telekom, a telecommunication company in Sri Lanka, together with Farmer Intelligence Services [Govi Gnana Seva (GGS)] has launched a service to deliver spot and forward agricultural commodity price information via mobile phones.

Dialog tradenet is a project initiated by the Dialog’s ICT4D team to go beyond the conventional entertainment focused Value Added Services and make a meaningful relevance of ICT to the all the segments of the society, especially to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP). So everyone will be able to reap the dividends of ICT for their own socio-economic development.

Initially this will provide agri-produce price information from three Dedicated Economic Centres in Sri Lanka (Dambulla, Meegoda and Narahenpita). The scope of tradenet will be gradually expanded to industrial and service sectors also. GGS, as an organisation with the expertise on agriculture markets has joined with a technology expert, Dialog to make this initiative a success, by making it a win-win-win solution for all including the poor farmers.

Among many other unique features, the usage of multiple channels/technologies to reach the end-users has made the system Affordable, Available and Accessible to the all the levels of the society including the BoP.

Mobile phone: Call Centre, SMS
USSD: #977#

Moving farmers from subsistence agriculture to some level of agri-business will help them to come out of poverty. But for those poor farmers to actively participate in agri-business we have to create efficient agricultural markets with minimum information asymmetry.


Mobile Phones for Teaching and Learning Science

November 24, 2009

To learn about the diversity of leaves students have to pluck the leaves thus damaging the plants. A more interesting approach is where students collectively took photographs of leaves while observing them.

Currently mobile phones are banned in Sri Lankan schools. But recently a research study on effectiveness of mobile phone for teaching and learning science was carried out in central province of Sri Lanka by a PhD student together with Department of Education of the University of Peradeniya in collaboration with the University of Bristol, UK. Dialog Telekom (a telecommunication company in Sri Lanka) supported this initiative by means of providing technical expertise and other resources.

How will students use mobile phones if it is already banned in Sri Lankan Schools?

In this study it was emphasized that a mobile phone can be just used as another science laboratory equipment such as a test-tube or a microscope. That would minimize the disciplinary and other related problems which caused to ban the mobile phones in Sri Lankan schools.

Mobile phones are getting equipped with more advanced tools such as video cameras, audio/video players, etc. Also the handset prices are coming down day-by-day. So it is up to the users to use those for more productive purposes than destructive uses. I think teachers can educate pupils on how best they can use mobile technology even fulfilling basic human needs such as education rather than saying “no” to the new technology or trying to keep children away from the new technology.

Courtesy: Sakunthala Ekanayake

You can read more about the research study here.