28 September 2007, Rome – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization today announced the launch of a unique interactive web-based platform focusing on the role that Information and
Communication Technologies (ICT) can have in supporting agriculture and rural development.
The online platform, www.e-agriculture.org, will enable users to exchange opinions, experiences, good practices and resources related to e-agriculture, and to ensure that the knowledge created
is effectively shared and used worldwide.
Developed by global stakeholders in collaboration with FAO and partners, the platform is part of an e-agriculture Community of Expertise, a global initiative to enhance sustainable agricultural
development and food security by improving the use of ICT in the sector.
The Community includes policy makers, rural service providers, development practitioners, farmers, researchers and information and communication specialists involved in agriculture and rural
Over 3400 stakeholders from 135 countries were involved in the development of the www.e-agriculture.org platform. They participated in an online survey, providing relevant content, and joining
in virtual forums held during July and August 2007.
The digital divide
Over the past decade, the digital divide – the divide between those with regular, effective access to digital and ICT and those without – has been shrinking in terms of numbers of fixed phone
lines, mobile subscribers, and Internet users.
Nonetheless, only 18 percent of the world’s population have currently access to the internet. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that one billion people worldwide still
lack connection to any kind of information and communication technology. Of these people, most depend in some way on agriculture for their livelihoods.
“Stakeholders from around the globe have guided FAO and its partner organizations in what is now a truly demand-driven platform,” states Anton Mangstl, Director of FAO’s Knowledge Exchange and
Capacity Building Division.
“We are confident that the e-agriculture Community of Expertise will help facilitate further global discussions and decisions facing farmers, governments and the international
community-at-large related to the role that ICT can have in agriculture and rural development,” Mr. Mangstl also said.
The launch of e-agriculture.org coincided with an “e-agriculture Week”, a series of consultations, meetings and other events held at FAO headquarters, in Rome (including Web2for Dev), which
brought together over 300 global participants looking at the role of information, communication and knowledge management in Agriculture and Rural Development.