Over the past years, a lot of emphasis have been placed on the Agriculture Value Chain while dealing with issues in Agricultural sector. The question that some of us may ask ourselves is what does the term "Agriculture value-chain" means?
Agriculture Value ChainsAccording to FAO (2005), a 'value chain' in Agriculture identifies the set of actors and activities that bring a basic agricultural product from production in the field, to final consumption, where at each stage value is added to the product. A value chain can be a vertical linking or a network between various independent business organizations and can involve processing, packaging, storage, transport and distribution. The terms "value chain" are often used interchangeably.Traditional agricultural value chains are generally governed through spot market transactions involving a large number of small retailers and producers.Modern agricultural value chains are characterized by vertical coordination, consolidation of the supply base, agro-industrial processing and use of standards throughout the chain. ICTs in Agriculture (e-Agriculture) Agriculture is facing new and severe challenges, including the rise in food prices, that have pushed more than 10 million people over the world into poverty since 2010. Today, it is a fact that the application of ICTs in Agriculture (e-Agriculture) is becoming essential along the Agriculture value-chain for the sector to be more competitive in increasing food production (up to 70%) to feed a population of 9 billion by 2050, and at the same time building resilience against climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emission. Over the years, several ICT tools have been developed and implemented for various purposes along the agriculture value-chain. From the farm production level to marketing and final consumption, a lot of information is generated and needs to be exchanged among various stakeholders as this is crucial for decision making or management along the value-chain. Moreover, different ICTs being used in Agriculture have their own objectives, target group, advantages and disadvantages. In this context, the Global Broadband and Innovation Portal (GBi) has compiled a database that offers over 125 ICT solutions (mobile applications and projects) mapped along the Agriculture Value chain. These have been categorized in 10 components of the value chain (Research & Development, Inputs, Production, Productivity/Marketing, Marketing/Productivity, Wholesale, Retail, Retail/Wholesale, Policy, Traceability), which can be viewed on this link or in the following document:
Other examples of ICTs being used in the Mauritian Agriculture are as follows:
- iPhone Application for marketing
- Wiki for collaboration in a multi-stakeholder partnership
- Blog to disseminate information on Agriculture
- Google Maps for crowd sourcing
- Use of Technology to control nutrient solution in hydroponics production
- Use of ICTs to manage a dairy farm
- Online marketing of agricultural produce
- The use of GPS in tractors for full mechanization
- ICTs in Agricultural Extension
From the above examples, we can see that there are several ICT tools that can be used in Agriculture for various purposes along the value-chain. Many of these have been beneficial to stakeholders in agriculture, and can even be replicated in other countries/regions. However, while choosing the ICT tool/application that would meet our needs in Agriculture, we should always know the objectives of the ICT tool/application and the advantage/benefit that it will bring about upon its implementation, since a tool/application that has been beneficial in one context may not be relevant in other contexts!