|About the Book|
Information is crucial in agricultural production, in addition to land, labor and capital. However, investment in Information Technology (IT) has been mainly in urban areas of industrial countries, despite the potential for cost-effectiveMoreInformation is crucial in agricultural production, in addition to land, labor and capital. However, investment in Information Technology (IT) has been mainly in urban areas of industrial countries, despite the potential for cost-effective applications of IT in rural areas in developing countries. Recent developments in IT, that make it particularly relevant for rural development include: reduced costs, increased storage, ease of use, speed, new links between different media, and info-tainment. The paper also describes limitations to the application of IT, like the need for complementary inputs, organizational change, improved information management, skills development, human involvement, policy changes, social barriers, and the experimental nature of many technologies. Some pitfalls to be avoided are described. The paper provides a rationale, often through examples, for increased investment in IT in agricultural development, particularly in the areas of poverty reduction, increased participation, improved governance, natural resource management and improved opportunities for women. The paper gives a series of examples where IT can be used to make rural development better, cheaper and faster for rural people, borrowers and Bank staff. A number of simple, practical requirements are given in order to get incremental benefits from IT applications. Also, more radical changes are proposed to achieve the full potential from IT, including a cross-sectoral approach to rural development, a more realistic model of technology transfer, and support for empowerment of the poor. The paper ends with a number of next steps, including increasing awareness and skills and increasing investments in IT.Furthermore, the paper has ten annexes on particular information technologies, providing task managers with information on what the technology is, how much it costs, what advantages and disadvantages are, and what the requirements are to make it work. A bibliography is included.