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Friday, March 9, 2012

Information technologies helping rural development across the world

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Progress and innovations in science and technology are causing changes in food production systems across the world including even the poorest countries. Cell phones, televisions, videos, community websites, news media partnerships etc. are affecting the food production systems up to greater extent.

Access to television is expanding in every corner of the world within a decade. Many villages in Africa have shared television sets. These sets are often powered by car batteries if electricity is not available. Communities gather around these T.V. sets and watch methods of agriculture, besides other programmes like football, hockey and cricket matches etc. Farming technologies, methods of pest control, organic agriculture, food-safety and storage etc are viewed by villagers on large scales.

In India, farmers learn modern technologies of crop production, and also of different aspects of sustainable agriculture like pisciculture, aquaculture, sericulture, bee-keeping, cattle rearing, and various other methods of advanced agriculture. Through mobile phones they can ask questions on Kisan Help Centres round the clock. They can know various government schemes and plans and also about different government programmes telecast for them.

Various progrmmes pertaining to micro financing, child and mother care, mass literacy, polio- and Filaria eradication etc are telecast on routine basis and farmers can learn a lot from these programmes. Different programmes designed for women are also telecast on television and women get expert advice on their reproductive health and about different government schemes run for their welfare. All these programmes have started changing the face of rural India, a well as of other countries in bigger ways.

The U.K. Department for International Development (DFID), Makutano Junction has a number programmes on health and development. These programmes touch various aspects of life like vaccines, health issues, methods of growing different crops, animal husbandry, corruption and development etc.

Videos made on various issues of health, education, agriculture, animal husbandry, horticulture too can teach a lot to masses. Educational CDs are being used on village, blocks, and district levels to educate the public in various aspects of human lives and development. CDs on various government programmes and projects are used to educate the common public for awareness and nation building. These CDs can be used on Panchayat level in community/ village council halls to train farmers in agriculture, family planning, child and mother care, social issues, election- methods like casting of votes, government plans and programmes etc. In recent elections political parties used these media in exposing faults of their opposition parties in big ways. Skilled persons should be employed at all these centres and free T.V. set operated by solar energy should also be provided to these centres for educating the common public and developing the nation. Training videos are being used in over 30 languages by African Rice Centre to educate rice- growers for improving yield through improved crop-growing methods.

Now, village councils and mohallah-committees have been observed to develop their websites on internet. These websites foster open transfer of ideas and innovations through out the community. Innovations of various non-government organisations like Barefoot College of Tilonia, Tree Hugger etc. are displayed on websites of these organisations. People having access to internet can learn a lot from innovations and general activities of these communities and organisations.

Educational videos can be used for specific target groups. These can be region-specific as well. Sometimes these can be used for specific target villages also.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, Kibera, in Nairobi is considered to be the world’s largest slum. About one million people inhabit the area. People living in this area have developed many farming innovations but limited communication facilities do not allow their innovations to reach up to other areas. However, the condition is now being changed by a new project, the Voice of Kibera. People under the project are reported to send innovations through SMS that are later posted on the project website for all having the access to internet.

Thus development in communication technology is helping the poor and developing countries grow their economies faster, and in making the community life more and more comfortable, together with strengthening the integration of nations, besides helping the world become a global village.

Key Words:cell phones, reproductive health, pest control, pisciculture, micro-financing, website, horticulture 

Image Credit : BROADBAND

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