Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges
Web portals collate the huge amount of knowledge available on the web in a single place. But in spite of the advantages, many people are not yet using web portals due to lack of literacy or awareness. There are also many challenges to be overcome at the organisational and institutional level in order to increase the use of web portals in agriculture. The strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of using web portals in extension and advisory services are given in Table 1.
Seamless integration of online information and knowledge from stakeholders
Decentralised CMS encourages free flow of relevant, unbiased, and value-added content
Interactive portals facilitate discussion among peers
Integration of content in multiple forms (text, audio, video, etc.)
Illiteracy (educational and technological)
Needs technical expertise
Possibly outdated content
No mention of source reduces authenticity of information
Limited degree of customisation by individual users
Lack of customised agricultural content in regional languages
Limited ICT availability and access among women farmers
More agri-organisations digitising their content
Favourable open access policies
Better access to information for tech-savvy farmers and extension organisations
Growing internet access through smart phones ensures wider audience
Promoting web portals through social media groups increases their visibility
Continuous updating and validation of content and portal features
Sustaining the interest of users
Increasing access for women and illiterates (educational and technological)
Lack of incentives or restrictions for organisations to share information
Continuous surveying of users to ensure that content and structure suits their needs
- Nature of target groups: Web portals can serve as a ready reference of information when needed for extensionists, researchers, academics, and policy-makers; however for farmers, literacy is important. Lack of device availability for access is a big drawback, especially for women.
- Innovations: Device compatibility is a very important feature that needs to be recognised during web portal development, mainly because of the mobile phone revolution in rural areas. Integration of features that enable interaction among users and real-time information display for market prices, weather, etc. can be very helpful for farmers.
- Ecological and institutional settings: Farmers not only need a device to access the portal, but also the wider infrastructure such as roads, electricity, etc. to actually put the information gained into use. At the organisational level, transparency in information sharing is an important aspect in quality control of information shared.