Land Use/Land Degradation

Connected Agriculture: The role of mobile in driving efficiency and sustainability in the food and agriculture value chain

Posted by EKStallings on Oct 25, 2011
Connected Agriculture: The role of mobile in driving efficiency and sustainability in the food and agriculture value chain data sheet 843 Views
Kirk, Matthew, Julie Steele, Christèle Delbé, Laura Crow, Steven Yurisich, Barry Nee, Gareth Weir, Kathryn Brownlie, Oliver Grange
Publication Date: 
Oct 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This report focuses on the opportunity to improve agricultural productivity using mobile services, highlighting the opportunity to bring new investment to a key group: smallholder farmers. Mobile telephony could have significant potential to help the poorest farmers towards greater food and income security.

Only in recent years that mobile communications technology has been widely accepted as an enabler of sustainable growth. In developing markets, where the deployment of mobile telecommunications networks has surpassed traditional fixed-line technology, the mobile telecoms industry is well-placed as an enabler of higher performance in the value chain. There is a distinct need for market-led opportunities, and the opportunity for mobile operators to deliver these is significant.

The mobile services studied here enable companies to access and interact directly with different participants in the value chain, helping to build visibility of issues, capacity and quality. They will support company sustainability objectives, and in particular, progress towards the UN Millennium Development Goals by helping to reduce poverty, improve health and increase funding for education.

This report aims to stimulate the necessary engagement between mobile operators, governments, NGOs and businesses to realize these opportunities and explore others.


Dial "A" for Agriculture: A Review of Information and Communication Technologies for Agricultural Extension in Developing Countries

Posted by EKStallings on Oct 04, 2011
Dial "A" for Agriculture: A Review of Information and Communication Technologies for Agricultural Extension in Developing Countries data sheet 1529 Views
Jenny C. Aker
Publication Date: 
Mar 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Agriculture can serve as an important engine for economic growth in developing countries, yet yields in low-income countries have lagged far behind those in developed countries for decades. One potential mechanism for increasing yields is the use of improved agricultural technologies, such as fertilizers, seeds and cropping techniques. Public-sector programs have attempted to overcome information- related barriers to technological adoption by providing agricultural extension services.


While such programs have been widely criticized for their limited scale, sustainability and impact, the rapid spread of mobile phone coverage in developing countries provides a unique opportunity to facilitate technological adoption via information and communication technology (ICT)-based extension programs.


This article outlines the potential mechanisms through which ICT could facilitate agricultural adoption and the provision of extension services in developing countries. It then reviews existing programs using ICT for agriculture, categorized by the mechanism (voice, text, internet and mobile money transfers) and the type of services provided. Finally, we identify potential constraints to such programs in terms of design and implementation, and concludes with some recommendations for implementing field-based research on the impact of these programs on farmers’ knowledge, technological adoption and welfare.

Harvests of Development in Rural Africa: The Millenium Villages After Three Years

Posted by ccarlon on Sep 20, 2011
Harvests of Development in Rural Africa: The Millenium Villages After Three Years data sheet 252 Views
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Publication Date: 
May 2011
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

At the UN Millennium Summit in September 2000, world leaders adopted the Millennium Declaration, committing nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and address pressing challenges of hunger, gender inequality, illiteracy, and disease. The year 2015 has been affirmed as the deadline for reaching these Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets.


The goal is to show how an integrated approach to community-level development can translate the international MDG agreements into ground-level breakthroughs throughout rural sub-Saharan Africa. Villages are located in deeply impoverished rural areas that were considered hunger hotspots—with at least 20% of children malnourished. Sites were selected to reflect a diversity of agro-ecological zones, representing a range of challenges to income, food production, disease ecology, infrastructure, and health system development.


The Millennium Villages Project is a ten-year initiative spanning two five-year phases. The first phase focuses on achieving quick wins, especially in staple crop production and disease control, and on establishing basic systems for integrated rural development that help communities escape the poverty trap and achieve the MDGs. The Project involves the coordinated community-led delivery of a locally tailored package of scientifically proven interventions for agriculture, education, health, and infrastructure. Over the first five-year phase, interventions are delivered at a modest cost, totaling approximately $120 per capita per year, of which MVP brings about half to complement funds from the host government, the local community, and other partners. The second five-year phase will focus more intensively on commercializing the gains in agriculture and continuing to improve local service delivery systems in a manner that best supports local scale-up.

Open Source Data Collection in the Developing World

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 18, 2010
Open Source Data Collection in the Developing World data sheet 2255 Views
Yaw Anokwa, Carl Hartung, Waylon Brunette, Gaetano Borriello and Adam Lerer
Publication Date: 
Oct 2009
Publication Type: 
Journal article

The ability to collect data is key to the success of many organizations operating in the developing world. Given the weaknesses of current tools and the surge in mobile phone growth, there's an opportunity for mobile and cloud technologies to enable timely and efficient data collection. This paper discusses Open Data Kit (ODK), a suite of tools that enable efficient and timely data collection on cell phones. ODK is designed to let users own, visualize, and share data without the difficulties of setting up and maintaining servers. The tools are easy to use, deploy, and scale. They also go beyond open source - they're based on open standards and supported by a larger community.


Posted by wildneil on Sep 09, 2009

WildKnowledge (WK) are a spin out company from Oxford Brookes University in the UK. WK enables members to create and share mobile recording forms (WildForm), decision trees (WildKey), maps (WildMap) and diagrams (WildImage). These tools enable the user to make informed decisions in the field and gather good quality data. This collated data can then be uploaded and shared as part of collaborative projects. Most of our members are UK school children and students, we are keen to explore new areas both geographically and contextually. All WK applications are wep apps and can work on any device with a web browser from a mobile device to a laptop (functionality will vary according to browser's capabilities).

Organization Type: 
United Kingdom

Automating Internal Control at a Rural Coffee Cooperative

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 14, 2009
Automating Internal Control at a Rural Coffee Cooperative data sheet 2852 Views
Vila; Mario, Scwartzman, Yael; Parikh, Tapan S.
Publication Date: 
Sep 2006
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Internal control systems allow agricultural cooperatives
to monitor the growing practices of their members, ensuring
adherence to various standards for quality, and for meeting
external certification requirements. In this paper, we present
the motivation, design and evaluation of an automated mobile
data collection, evaluation and reporting tool for internal control
at a coffee cooperative. Our design goals were to improve the
efficiency of this process, and to increase the accountability of
various stakeholders. Based on a three-month pilot deployment,
we have demonstrated a 30% reduction in inspection time and
71% reduction in evaluation time, compared to the earlier paperbased
approach, which relied on several manual data collection
and information processing steps. We also present the results
of a qualitative evaluation of the system, including real field
experiences and the perceived benefits and drawbacks of the
automated system from the perspective of inspectors, farmers
and other stakeholders.

Education, mobile phone use and production decisions: a rural case study in Peru

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 01, 2009
Education, mobile phone use and production decisions: a rural case study in Peru data sheet 1949 Views
Agüero, Aileen
Publication Date: 
May 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

In many parts of the world, mobile phones are important devices that have proven to be the first
opportunity for many people to have access to telecommunications. Considering the possible
impact of this development in welfare, the main purpose of this research is to investigate how
important formal education is for using mobile phones in making production decisions.
Specifically, we will analyze if this kind of technology is employed for production decisions in
rural areas in Puno, a Peruvian department in the southern highlands, bordering Bolivia. In
our case, production comprises livestock and agriculture. One of the main results is that no
matter how educated people are; if education is of poor quality, it will not have a significant
impact on the probability of making an effective use of mobile phones.

Earth Day and Mobile Phones, Part 2: Making the Environment Better One SMS at a Time

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 22, 2009

Sensing is just one way in which mobiles are used in environmental protection. Another promising area is wildlife protection in sensitive areas where humans and animals collide, often to the detriment of protected animals. In the Laikipia District in Kenya, the University of Cambridge conducted a project using mobile phones to protect and manage Kenya's second largest elephant population, and the ecosystem they inhabit.  The goal was to alleviate human-elephant conflict between local farmers and the protected elephants.  The project used mobile phones for early warning of elephants approaching farmland by using 'push-to-talk' technologies, and GPS/GSM collars for the elephants, allowing wildlife personnel to intervene before elephant became a danger to farmers and vice versa. 

Earth Day and Mobile Phones, Part 1: Sensing for a Better World

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Apr 21, 2009

If 2009 is the year of the mobile phone for social impact, then Earth Day should mark a special occasion in this regard. More and more organizations and people are discovering how mobile phones can be used for social impact, including how to use mobile tech for environmental protection, sensing, and to leverage just-in-time information to make our movements and actions more environmentally friendly.

An emerging field of research, for example, uses mobiles for "urban sensing," allowing phones to collect scientific data in new and innovative ways. By affixing a sensory device to a mobile phone, mobile sensing provides the opportunity to track dynamic information about environmental impacts and develop maps and understand patterns of human movement, traffic, and air pollution.

A leader in this field is the University of California Los Angeles CENS Lab.

Virtual Forum "Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas" 17-28 November 2008

Posted by cmasiello on Oct 29, 2008

Mobile phones bridge the rural digital divide, bring economic benefits, and act as agents of social mobilization through improved communication. But what are the real challenges of reaching rural areas, and what are some of today’s most beneficial applications that can help rural communities, specifically regarding agriculture development?

The Virtual Forum on "Mobile Telephony in Rural Areas" will examine the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and look at some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.

Subject Matter experts include: