These examples represent only a minute subset of the information and communication services that can be provided to the agricultural sector through increasingly affordable and accessible ICTs.
Hundreds of agriculture specific applications are now emerging and are showing great promise for smallholders, as illustrated in the more than 200 project-based case studies and examples in this website. In order to exploit the possibilities, countries have two tasks:
(A) To empower poor farmers with information and communication assets and services that will increase their productivity and incomes as well as protect their food security and livelihoods, and
(B) to harness ICTs effectively to compete in complex, rapidly changing global markets (avoiding falling behind the technology curve).
Accomplishing these tasks requires the implementation of a complex set of policy, investment, innovation, and capacity-building measures, in concert with beneficiaries and other partners, which will encourage the growth of locally appropriate, affordable, and sustainable ICT infrastructure, tools, applications, and services for the rural economy.
Importantly, ICT is not an end to agricultural development. The excitement generated by ICTs as they spread throughout developing countries has often masked the fact that their contributions to agriculture are both rapidly evolving and poorly understood. It is too early to have a clear idea, supported by rigorous analysis, of how ICTs support agricultural development, and under what conditions.
While there is credible evidence of positive impact, questions remain about how to make these innovations replicable, scalable, and sustainable for a larger and more diverse population. A central goal of this topic is to analyze and disseminate evidence of the impact of ICTs on agricultural development and rural poverty reduction, exploring opportunities for long term and expansive efforts.