Visions, innovations and trends

A well-informed small-scale farmer with better access to new ICTs will improve his or
her productivity, and thus improve his or her quality of life.

Lessons learnt

Effective use of ICTs cannot be achieved unless unless people in rural areas fully
appropriate these technologies. Effective use of ICTs means the ability to access, adapt,
manipulate and generate knowledge which will benefit any given individual or

“Technology is not a magic wand”. Technology does not always have an impact on the
information flow (for example, the communication between the different working
groups and the Junta [Council] is now done over the phone, but the meetings are still
called for by printed documents, stamps and signatures still needed). Why? Because of
cultural and social reasons. When urgency is the priority, technology can change the
information flow, but it will fail to do so when the priority is formality: technology
operates within a given context, and if we don’t consider this context we will never
understand when technology does not produce the expected results.

 “Anyone can learn”. Older farmers without a formal education were able to learn how
to use new technologies, while in some cases younger ones have failed. Motivation is
the major issue. How to achieve this motivation? That is the question…

Priorities/potentials for action

To strengthen existing processes and to develop the appropriate mechanisms to assess
the current local information needs.

Questions to be deepened further

Technology appropriation has to go faster than than technological changes. How can
this be planned?

Proprietary communication standards will prevail over local innovative solutions, even
if the latter are more efficient. How can this be avoided?

When will we see if the agricultural information systems are valuable tools for decision
making? How long would it take for farmers to fully appropriate the ICTs? Or how long
would it take them to use information to transform their lifes or productive activities?

- visions, innovations and trends:

The iREACH project in Cambodia is building two Pilot community-owned ICT
enterprises in rural areas. The vision is that such enterprises will be a sustainable way
to use ICTs - including telephony and community radio - to improve the economic,
social and cultural lives of poor communities; and to build capacities in terms of
enterprise creation and ICT use. What is innovative is brining together mainstream
development practice, such as with local infrastructure and service development using
cooperatives, and the latest low cost ICT technologies, such as wireless, VoIP, web
services, to create a viable community enterprise.

- lessons learnt

Key criteria for success are:
- building a sense of ownership locally through participate practices,
- putting in place the human capacities through the presence of a supportive local team
- identifying and sourcing the appropriate technologies

- priorities/potentials for action

For the pilots, with the basic infrastructure, both human and technical in place, the key
priorities are:

- developing the services and content that will yield real benefits for local people;
- building the core skills and institutions of a local enterprise that will take over the
project at the appropriate time
- identifying the appropriate policy actions that can move the concept forward in the
context of Cambodia

- questions to be deepened further

As above:
- What kinds of services and applications will make a real difference to people lives in
rural areas, and how can these be developed by the people themselves?