While the need for e-agriculture strategies is acknowledged by many stakeholders, most countries are yet to adopt a strategic approach in making the best use of ICT developments in agriculture.
Sri Lanka is developing the National E-agriculture Strategy with technical assistance from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and CAB International (CABI).
Many challenges still remain that impedes the deployment of appropriate ICT for agriculture development at large scale. The lack of appropriate national strategies, weak collaboration between stakeholders, lack of institutional support, weak regulatory frameworks, lack of interoperability agreed-upon standards, and lack of clarity about sustainable business models are a few examples of challenges that need to be addressed in a comprehensive manner if a country has to leverage the best outcomes from emerging and innovative technologies.
In order to address the above challenges, the Department of Agriculture (DoA) together with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) are developing the E-agriculture Strategy for Sri Lanka based on the framework developed by FAO and ITU.
A week long validation workshop from 29 November to 4 December, held at Kandy, is bringing together various stakeholders who would collaboratively develop the E-agriculture Strategy for Sri Lanka.
The opening session of the validation workshop heard Wasantha Deshapriya, the Secretary of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure; mention the various e-governance initiatives launched by the Government.
Dr. Rohan Wijekoon, the Director General of Department of Agriculture, explained the national agriculture production policy and the various ICT in agriculture initiatives undertaken by the department and stressed the need for high-level support needed to mainstream these initiatives and to make them sustainable. He mentioned that market price information systems and weekly weather forecast and updates are crucial for Sri Lankan farmers together with real-time production information which would be helpful for policy makers.
Dr. Dharmassree Wijeratne, Assistant FAO representative (Programmes), reiterated FAO’s commitment to supporting the country in achieving sustainable food and nutrition security in the country while developing the livelihoods of the rural agricultural sector.
An E-agriculture Strategy for Sri Lanka with key strategic recommendations would be one of the key outcomes of this workshop.
For further information contact: Dr. Wijeratne Dharmassree, Assistant FAO representative, Colombo, Sri Lanka. For media enquires contact: Malika De Mel, Media focal point, FAO Sri Lanka.