This week: 36583
This month: 113690
This year: 841117
There are currently 0 users and 27 guests online.
Translate now !
Antigua and Barbuda
This project specifically introduces ICTs to the small-scale agro-business to promote organic agriculture, organic micro and small enterprises, employment in this sector and in related organic consumer sectors. The project reaches poor farmers offering them opportunities to improve returns to production and to establish more viable livelihoods, while promoting sustainable agricultural methods. All workshop participants are women. The project builds on previous work in the region in 2004 and 2006
ongoing - active
ICT Focus Areas:
ICT and the Environment
Related Member States:
Trinidad and Tobago
In May 2008, Networked Intelligence for Development (NID), an NGO based in Toronto, Canada, organized a workshop in collaboration with the Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM) for women farmers from all over the Caribbean. The participants learned about ways of engaging with women in small-scale organic farming and about the benefits of experiential and hands-on learning in both farming and the use of ICT.
This series of workshops addresses the specific training and resource needs of women farmers. In the Caribbean women own and control less land and means of production than do men. The majority of female farmers are smallholders.
To help women take advantage of both the technology and existing and emerging organic and natural products markets, there is an urgent need to build on current initiatives. Existing nodes of activity need to be further developed into strong interactive marketing networks. This requires training in all aspects of organic farming, basic ICT skills, e-marketing skills, website management, vision building, and exposure to ICT service providers, marketing organizations and regulations and standards bodies. One of the main concerns of new entrants into the organic market is the small local consumer base and the lack of market premium. The best way of creating and maintaining these markets would be to put buyers in direct contact with growers, and this is where information technology and connectivity are a key medium for exchange.
Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement (JOAM)
Design of Project:
NID capitalizes on the dynamics of bringing women together and offering them the space to explore technical know-how and related experiences and always within the relevant socio-economic and political context. JOAM and NID have delivered a tried and tested training methodology that strikes a balance between:
• Bringing in local content and local stakeholders to contribute local context and analysis to the overall program;
• Ensuring that every participant is brought into the dialogue and discussion right from the beginning of the program as an equal contributor of knowledge and experience;
• Providing some structure to the overall program while allowing for fluidity and changes as determined by the participants and other local stakeholders.
• The research component of this project is ongoing and will continue to be a critical input to the workshops
The workshops will provide space for five different components for training interaction:
• On-line training sessions in a computer lab or community centre equipped with connected computers. Participants are paired up with low-level users working with a more experienced partner.
• Issue specific facilitated discussions on the technical aspects of ICTs, on organic farming and standards, and on organic marketing processes with participants seated six to a table (to encourage group discussion) or three to a computer.
• Context specific discussions facilitated by resource persons on regional and international trade and on ICTs and globalization.
• Field work and demonstrations - an entire day is devoted to visiting a conventional farm and certified organic operations (farm, nursery, off-farm processor) to provide practical illustrations of the organic principles and theories discussed during the workshop.
• Video screenings and discussions provide useful and current audio-visual materials against which participants discuss current issues such as GMO seeds.
Over the course of our work in the region, we find that more and more women farmers are being displaced because of the collapse of mainstream agricultural industries (such as the banana and sugar industries), and more are experiencing first hand the negative health impacts of pesticides and fertilizer use. In response to these and other negative developments, they are seeking to return to traditional modes of agricultural production. At the same time, the mono-crop, slash-and-burn, high-synthetic input agriculture that is practiced runs counter to conserving and nurturing the land, and more women farmers are concerned to better manage their immediate environmental ecosystems as well as the physical health of their families and children. All these factors are taken into account when we design the comprehensive workshop programs so as to draw the links between all these variables. ICTs are both a critical input in women farmers’ efforts to shift to organic systems, and an indispensable tool to delivering training, accessing a wealth of web-based information and maintaining communications among the farmers in the process.
Long-term workshop objectives and outcomes:
• Stimulate the cross-fertilization of production know-how and management processes between farming entrepreneurs in the region, using traditional means of communications as well as the evolving information technologies;
• Enable participants to draw the links between environmental protection, local livelihoods and organic production;
• Expose participants to the challenges and opportunities posed by the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and fair trade and organic standards requirements;
• Continue to refine and improve upon a methodological training model for semi-technical women farmers, and place educational materials at the disposal of public institutions, donor agencies, NGOs and development projects in the region;
• Continue to strengthen the regional network of women entrepreneurs whose combined expertise will enable them to among other things meet demand for their organic produce from local and regional markets as well as from overseas; and harness those aspects of the Internet which will provide women farm entrepreneurs in the region with relevant marketing, management and information tools;
• Ensure increased Caribbean participation in similar workshops or such events across North America and Europe;
• Promote the value of women’s use of ICTs in the agricultural sector to the donor community.
We anticipate that direct risks are few but in the longer term organic farmers face waxing and waning support at the policy level for organic farming. Despite best training efforts therefore, women farmers may continue to find difficulties in getting their produce into financially viable markets
Alignment with National Strategies:
All national governments speak glowingly about opportunities afforded by organic agriculture whether or not they are actually able to follow through on these policies at the micro and domestic levels. Our work with women farmers and entrepreneurs is a direct response to this niche development sector.
All national governments are jockeying to place their countries on the e-map and are adopting aggressive polices and programmes to ensure that their citizens are competent and competitive and can enter potential global markets.
All Caribbean governments are also supportive and optimistic about the potential of CSME to open up regional trade and skills markets.
NID and JOAM expect to run a follow-up regional workshop in 2009 for all those Knowing & Growing participants who have successfully achieved conversion or organic certification. The numbers of certified organic farmers will be an important gauge of our long-term success in disseminating organic farming information and training. This workshop would be run in tandem with an organic inspectors certification course for those women who want to become inspectors in their countries. This would be a regional "training of trainers" for further work in the region with the network and modelling "best practices" which we can document and use.
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement