6 Saravanan. 2011. Op. cit.
6 Saravanan. 2011. Op. cit.
- Offering localised and customised information, advisory, and other services: Farmer call centres, mobile apps, radio, TV.
- Helping to create, document, store, retrieve, share, and manage information: Web portals, crop-specific portals, knowledge banks, expert systems, agricultural information management systems.
- Enabling collaboration, sharing, and partnerships for innovation among extension actors: Social media, discussion groups.
- Enabling farmers and others to ‘gain a voice’: Community radio, tele-centres, videos, virtual communities of practice and social media.
- Facilitating capacity development of farmers, extension professionals, and other AIS actors: E-learning mechanisms (open distance learning, learning object repositories, massive open online courses, and other e-learning mechanisms), training by using ICTs, survey and monitoring tools, and applications.
Implementation steps of ICT-enabled EAS: As discussed earlier, appropriateness of ICTs depends on the situation, and their use is most successful as a catalyst of development. To use them effectively, a series of logical steps needs to be followed (Figure 1). While the steps may be indicative of the logical delivery of ICT projects, they are not absolute in any terms, but depend on the situation and best judgements of the extension organisation, based on detailed need assessment surveys of clientele and other stakeholders.
- Needs assessment: EAS is most useful and applicable when the information and services provided are localised and needs based. So for ICT projects to be successful, the first and foremost action of the host organisation should be a needs assessment of the target community.
- Benchmark survey: Standards or points of reference are very important for ICT-enabled services to meet their objectives and this makes benchmark surveys a necessity. They are also useful as standards of monitoring and evaluation.
- Content development: Localised and customised content needs to be developed, based on the results of the needs assessment and benchmark surveys to avoid blanket recommendations.
- ICT selection, development, and testing: Based on localised needs, content, and target groups, the appropriate ICT tool needs to be selected, developed, and pilot-tested for determination of suitability.
- Awareness programmes and registration: One major drawback in ICT projects is lack of awareness of target users of the project’s existence or benefits. To solve that, innovative campaigns need to be conducted to make the intended audience aware of the projects. This is especially important in the case of subscription-based services, as the users need to register to receive the benefits.
- Extension, advisory, and other services: Based on demand and needs of the users, the services are to be provided to the targeted groups.
- Partnership and integration of services: Depending on the needs of the project and the services provided, stakeholders need to collaborate to determine which services can be integrated to avoid duplication and provide quality service to the users.
- Monitoring and stabilisation: Continuous monitoring is an important function, especially in the pilot phase, to determine the suitability of the project for target users and modifications should be made accordingly to the services offered to ultimately scale up the project in a profitable manner.
- Impact assessment: This remains one of the most important steps in implementation of ICT projects, as the impact ultimately determines the degree of success of the project in bringing about the desired changes in the target group, as well as the factors deciding its long-term sustainability.