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Cyber Extension for Agriculture Development

Cyber extensionInnovation on agriculture tends to increase due to information development and communication technology. As a result, the gap between rural and urban agriculture is not easily denied.

For instance, agricultural extension workers always confront innovation gaps as they complete their tasks as farmers’ partners. On the other hand, research institutions harbor many funds to produce innovations. Thus, both workers and institutions must work together to solve agricultural problems.

Collaboration among workers, institutions and farmers at the ultimate pace can produce a novelty on the development of the agricultural sector. For example, Bogor Agricultural University and agricultural extension workers have found a beneficial application of computer integrated information technology to promote cyber extension. This ‘app’ is not only computer integrated but also hand phone integrated.

“New hope in agriculture and rural development”

Cyber extension is regarded as the use of ICTs for agricultural and rural extension. According to the Jakarta Post (2013), it represents a new hope in agriculture and rural development. There are three systems developed of cyber extension which are: online consultation system -web consultation-, hand phone -based internet system-, and Android technology -based smart telephone-.

The utilization of agricultural and rural cyber extension is very useful for rural farmers to increase crop yields, as well as to consult researchers about agricultural issues. In some countries, it serves to escalate society’s learning. By utilizing online networking, computer and digital interactive multimedia, not only researchers and farmers, but also by the whole society can benefit from it.

IPB Goes to Field

At Bogor Agricultural University (Institut Pertanian Bogor), young agricultural students are annually engaged to promote and implement the uses of cyber extension among local communities in rural areas within the program “IPB Goes to Field.” The purpose of the cyber extension of IPB is no other than helping local farmers build connections with IPB.

Thanks to cyber extension, young agriculturists can gain experience and implement their knowledge through the review from local farmers, and these can be benefitted by gaining information and ancillary related to agricultural problems from IPB’s researchers.                                                  

Kinds and Mechanism of Cyber Extension

Cyber extension has been developed in several countries with different technologies embedded. Some examples are Kenya government, which developed KACE (Kenya Agricultural Commodities Exchange), India with the development of a Wireless pony express of Daknet, or Thailand, which established Thailand Canada Telecentre Project (TCTP).

By converging and centralizing, cyber extension processes information for farmers from several sources, so that the transmitted data are simplified into the local language with accompanied texts and audio visual illustrations. Yet, this ‘app’ is spread out and implemented in some cities such as Maluku and Liwa.

There are four important things which support the sustainability of cyber extension: (1) available supporting materials and technologies, (2) sophisticated human resources, (3) voluntarily information exchange, (4) strong commitment of multi-stakeholders in the implementation.

Likewise, linkages to other sectors focusing on agriculture will help to strengthen the agricultural sector. However, cyber is restricted by certain conditions, such as limited electricity, telephone networks, bad internet connection and unrenewable information. Conditions that generate the obstruction of solutions to be sent to farmers.

Post written by Muhammad Iqbal Firdausi and Achmad Solikhin (IGAF – Indonesian Green Action Forum)