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Evidence of impact and potential scalability

Web portals have had far reaching impact on users financially and socially. In India, the e-Choupal initiative for market price dissemination has reduced the procurement transaction price from 8 percent to 2 percent and has involved the farmers in every step – from content generation to web portal design and layout.3 Access Agriculture, through videos hosted on the web portal, has changed the life of farmers, especially of women, across Asia and Africa by making information accessible and empowering them.

Most of the time, agricultural information is very location-specific and so the best scalability option can be to ‘roll out, fix it, and scale up’,5 collating the required information and editing out the unnecessary material depending on usability and farmers’ responses. 

Building portals/repositories cannot guarantee application at the farm level. There should be clear-cut knowledge uptake strategies and activities to encourage this. Such strategies include understanding knowledge pathways in communities, developing knowledge products for users, capacity building, reinforcing knowledge by practical demonstrations in the field, feedback and sharing among stakeholders, and re-inventing knowledge at field level.

Critical issues

EAS organisations need practical solutions for web portals to be effective at the grassroots level. For that some critical analysis of issues like content development (who, how, process, scale, and depth), capacity building of extension personnel and organisations, building farmer communities for localisation of content, and credibility of information are important. Overcoming these requires multi-stakeholder involvement at many levels to make web portals effective in a rural farming scenario.