E-Agriculture and E-Government for Global Policy Development: Implications and Future Directions

E-Agriculture and E-Government for Global Policy Development: Implications and Future Directions

Blessing M. Maumbe (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe)
Indexed In: SCOPUS
Release Date: September, 2009|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 342
ISBN13: 9781605668208|ISBN10: 1605668206|EISBN13: 9781605668215|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-820-8


E-agriculture and e-government have transformed public service delivery across the globe, though there are still a number of associated economic, social, political, and legal challenges.

E-Agriculture and E-Government for Global Policy Development: Implications and Future Directions provides critical research and knowledge on electronic agriculture and e-government development experiences from around the world. This authoritative reference source describes and evaluates real-life e-agriculture and e-government case studies, examines theoretical frameworks, and discusses key global policy development issues, challenges, and constraints on socio-economic advancements.

Topics Covered

The many academic areas covered in this publication include, but are not limited to:

  • Agricultural market development
  • Dissemination of agricultural knowledge
  • E-agriculture development
  • E-commerce initiatives in agriculture
  • E-government case studies
  • E-literacy capacity building programs
  • Globalized workforce development
  • Mobile phones for market linkage
  • Modernization paradox
  • Responsible global citizenship

Reviews and Testimonials

This book provides a description of the key issues affecting the e-agriculture and e-government landscape that is unfolding worldwide, and it provides a sound basis to initiate a global policy dialogue on how to effectively execute the implementation of such programs and projects.

– Blessing M. Maumbe, Eastern Kentucky University, USA

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

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The rapid diffusion and adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) has provided opportunities to improve agricultural productivity, enhance access to markets, value-chain integration and coordination, poverty reduction, and raising standards of living of the majority poor. As the ICT revolution gains momentum, numerous governments around the world have established e-agriculture and e-government programs and projects. Over the past decade, the e-agriculture and e-government implementation pace has gained greater momentum especially in developing countries. The use of ICT to stimulate food and agricultural production and enhance the integration of domestic, regional, and global markets has provided widespread opportunities for socio-economic development through, agricultural employment creation, generation of new wealth, improved service delivery, and poverty reduction in most countries. Although fewer developing nations than developed countries have made great strides in modernizing their public service delivery to date, not much is known about the innovative programs, projects, and the policies and strategies that are guiding the implementation of ICT-based services especially in developing countries.

Isolated, undocumented, and oftentimes uncoordinated ICT initiatives have emerged in government service provision in many developing countries recently. The race to use ICT to facilitate socio-economic development and move from traditional face to face to online public service delivery has intensified around the world. There is need therefore, to capture the “infant phases” and systematically document the new knowledge in order to improve our understanding of the socio-economic circumstances surrounding the diffusion and adoption of these new tools that now form the basis for a new global development paradigm.

A number of technological revolutions have come and gone and there are ample lessons about missed opportunities, trade-offs, risks and challenges. As ICT applications in agriculture and rural development increase, and governments adopt the e-service agenda, it is imperative that we diagnose this relatively new phenomenon. It is also important from the onset to address some key issues about the motivation and expectations for writing this book. First, the editor recognizes fully that ICT are not a panacea for international global development problems. Second, the use of ICT will not make poverty and debilitating diseases that confront mankind disappear overnight. Third, the implementation of e-agriculture and e-government is associated with numerous risks and uncertainties. Fourth, there is clear competition for national and global resources for ICT investments with immediate societal basic needs such as water, food, and shelter. Nonetheless, the use of ICT will facilitate socio-economic development by providing opportunities to address poverty and the basic needs of society. This book aims to enlighten the world about the potential benefits arising from the application of these modern technologies, using practical examples of successes achieved elsewhere. In addition, the practical solutions to some of the intractable ICT problems and difficulties encountered provide clear lessons for those policy makers and other industry experts that are striving to develop and execute sustainable ICT policies and strategies in agriculture and rural development.

In order to accomplish that goal, this book documents early initiatives in e-agriculture development and e-government efforts around the world. The book synthesizes seminal e-agriculture development and e-government country case studies and provides insights into theoretical frameworks and policies that can be used guide the development of sustainable e-services in developing countries in particular. This book is a collection of chapters providing new knowledge on e-agriculture and e-government efforts around the world. The book brings together expert contributions from four continents, United States of America, Africa, Asia and Europe. The individual chapter contributions were drawn from case studies from ten countries around the world. The country case studies were drawn from Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe (i.e., Africa), Poland (i.e., Europe) and India (i.e., Asia). The book chapters provide detailed insights, ideas, concepts, frameworks, policies and strategies, and balanced perspectives on the different e-agriculture and e-government initiatives, projects and programs that have been implemented globally. Collectively, the book provides a description of the key issues affecting the e-agriculture and e-government landscape that is unfolding worldwide, and it provides a sound basis to initiate a global policy dialogue on how to effectively execute the implementation of such programs and projects around the world. Shared experiences about success, failures, and challenges are critical for shaping both the current and future e-agriculture and e-government efforts in the twenty-first century. Understanding what works and what does not work, or what is inappropriate under certain conditions regarding the diffusion and adoption of modern ICT will be useful in guiding policy makers, industry experts, businesses, and society in general in making their technology choices.

The book is divided into three major parts. Part I describes selected e-agriculture country case studies. Part II examines proposed e-agriculture development frameworks, policies and strategies. Finally, Part III describes mainly e-government programs and projects and highlights implementation challenges. The effort to put this book together could not have been successful without the unique cooperation, hard work and resilience of many scientists, academics, researchers, and scholars around the world. The themes and topics that were selected for inclusion in this book highlight not only their importance, but also the focused attention that is being paid to these issues by e-agriculture and e-government professionals and experts around the world. This book highlights cutting edge initiatives in e-agriculture and e-government, best practices from the country case studies including social, economic, cultural, legal, technological factors driving success, e-challenges, and global policy development issues. The following section provides a brief narrative description of each specific chapter that has been included in this book.

Chapter 1 examines the awareness and use of mobile phones to enhance smallholder famer linkages to agricultural markets in Kenya. The chapter noted that in many developing countries smallholder farmer’s participation in agricultural input and output markets is constrained by lack of market information. Actors in most developing country markets operate under conditions of information asymmetry which increases transaction costs and locks out smallholder farmers. The use of ICT to provide market information offers an opportunity to address the problem of information asymmetry and link farmers to product and factor markets. The chapter identifies a high level of awareness and widespread use of mobile phones for social purposes. Low educational levels, the cost of airtime, and the lack of electricity to recharge phone batteries were reported as major obstacles to mobile phone usage among Kenyan smallholders.

Chapter 2 describes South Africa’s experiences with e-agriculture development using the Robertson Wine Valley located in Cape Town as the case study. In South Africa, the growth of e-agriculture is seen as an engine to accelerate agricultural industry development, promote e-commerce, and reduce rural poverty. This chapter examines e-agriculture initiatives such as computerized irrigation systems, e-record keeping, market information systems, e-packaging, product traceability, and online marketing to link wine farmers to both local and global markets. The chapter presents additional evidence which demonstrate South Africa’s significant advances in e-agriculture and the tangible benefits that have accrued to the agricultural communities.

Chapter 3 explores Nigeria’s e-agriculture policies and those of other African governments. It examines the history of agriculture in Nigeria; the current status of Nigerian information and communication technologies and e-government policies with emphasis on agriculture. It also proposes e-agricultural strategies that governments could adopt to enhance their agricultural productivity. The chapter highlights the importance of communication as an instrument of national development while recommending the need for caution in the adoption of e-agriculture policies and acquisition of ICT to promote national development.

Chapter 4 describes the early experience with electronic marketing of agricultural products- one of the new e-commerce initiatives in the Polish agricultural marketing system. The chapter also discusses conditions of the electronic exchange development and its impact on the Polish agricultural market. The Polish government’s agricultural policy in the period of economic transformation was driven by the establishment of new marketing institutions such as regional wholesale markets and commodity exchanges. These markets serve as key important marketing channels for market-oriented farmers in Poland and are seen as a source of electronic commerce innovations in the Polish agricultural markets.

The three chapters presented in Part II of this book describe the theoretical frameworks, and the policy development processes and procedures for e-agriculture and e-government. The diffusion and adoption of e-agriculture and e-government in a policy vacuum will be a fad, if not a dismal failure and countries should avoid this risk. The three chapters included in the second part of this book highlight critical issues for consideration and the systematic steps that need to be followed by policy makers in various countries as they cautiously embark on their individual e-agriculture and e-government projects and programs.

Chapter 5 proposed a theoretical framework for e-agriculture development that is divided into three main parts; (i) e-service delivery (i) ICT investment, e-channel development and benefit articulation, and (iii) e-information flow and e-content development landscape. The chapter highlights basic preconditions and “e-value creation” considerations that must be integrated in the development of sustainable e-agriculture policies and strategies. The chapter identifies ICT illiteracy, lack of ICT policies, poor infrastructure, and poverty as key challenges affecting e-agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The chapter recommends the need to develop systematic e-strategies and policies on e-content, e-trust, e-security, e-value addition to promote sustainable e-agriculture on the African continent.

Chapter 6 focuses on the development of an e-communication model for Indian agriculture. Almost sixty five percent of Indian population is engaged in agriculture that contributes to food security of the world’s second largest populated country. Although the agriculture sector contributes 26 percent of GDP, this sector is very crucial for the sustainable growth and development of India. The emerging agricultural challenges demand information intensive agriculture work and applications of state of the art knowledge to enhance agricultural productivity, but non-accessibility of information and subsequently awareness and knowledge gaps that exist in this sector, enormously affect agricultural productivity. The chapter highlights public and private sector efforts being made in e-communication of information in rural India. Given that accessibility of latest agricultural knowledge is a major problem, there is need for an e-communication model suitable for the transfer of agricultural knowledge in the rural areas of India.

Chapter 7 is based on the premise that rural communities are being heavily influenced by the ongoing modernization process and there is a real fear that in the African context, the ensuing modernization will result in a paradox where modernization may lead to an increase in economic well-being, but have the unintended consequence of increasing alienation and reducing a sense of community that exists in rural villages. The chapter theoretically explores the possibility of using ICT to develop a sense of community in rural villages and thus offset and mitigate the more negative aspects of the modernization process. It also proposes a way to conceptualize this potential paradox by integrating the well established sociological concepts of Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (individualism) with current paradox models of diversity and similarity curves. Such an approach has pedagogical utility in helping to describe and explain the modern paradox that African countries face. The chapter highlights a rare concern that modernization and economic well being of the citizenry might come about at the expense of increased alienation and a reduction in the sense of community or loss of social relationships normally found in rural villages.

In Part III of the book, e-government country case studies are presented. The common theme of these case studies is the effort by various governments to embark on innovative and more efficient ways to deliver services to their government departments, private businesses, and ordinary citizens. Collectively, the chapters present country specific e-government developments, constraints and challenges, proposes relevant best practices, and identifies critical success factors. The chapters also make an attempt to provide some of the policy implications for promoting sound e-government development in the respective countries.

Chapter 8 describes the challenges of developing e-government in a developing country context. To assist public administrators to think beyond traditional e-government, the chapter describes the concept of connected government, whose philosophy rests on the integration of back-end processes that facilitate collaboration among government agencies. Using Zimbabwe as a case study, the chapter describes five government-owned organizations where even the basic e-government services are barely available. The chapter highlights the challenges of taking the initial steps to establish e-government integration within and across government agencies in a developing country setting. The chapter exposes shortcomings to inter-departmental integration not only of the organizations under investigation, but also of other similar enterprises in developing countries within the same context. The chapter makes recommendations toward diffusing connected government applications for inter-organizational collaboration.

Chapter 9 is based on Zambia’s experiences with e-government development. The chapter argues that e-government can benefit developing countries by enhancing the economy, increasing access to health care, improving bureaucracy, and consolidating democracy. Sub-Saharan African countries have lagged behind the world in adopting e-government. A variety of reasons explain the lag, namely lack of national resources and an illiterate population. Zambia is unique in that it serves as an example of democracy on a continent where freedom and peace are lacking, but also as a country where e-government is only beginning. The chapter is the first to examine e-government at five distinct levels: current communication systems; Zambia’s ICT policy; key central e-government websites; e-government at the provincial/municipal level; and at the individual level. The case study results demonstrate how a developing country is struggling to provide government access and enhance the economy and suggests improvements needed if Zambia’s e-government will become adequate and sustainable.

Chapter 10 describes the skewed global workforce interactions during the agricultural and industrial revolutions that still bother the antagonists of globalization but could be straightened by progressive workforce development policies that mutually benefit high and low income countries. The chapter argues that the e- literacy and information technology boom have further narrowed spatial perception of geographic distance thus providing low-income countries insights on policy dynamics of high income countries and its impact on the rest of the world. Thus in order to attain equity and balanced global workforce development, this chapter explores the rational and different paradigms for capacity building on e-literacy in low income African countries so that their workforce would contribute to the globalized economy and civic responsibility. The chapter contends that e-literacy empowerment should be regarded as a human right issue and that through other ethical globalization efforts every person on earth should form part of the workforce for sustaining the global village.

Chapter 11 presents the essence of critical success factors with a focus on building capacity for electronic governance (e-governance) in a developing country jurisdiction. The results are borne of the authors’ years of experience with regard to national e-governance implementations in developing member countries of the Commonwealth. Critical success factors (CSFs) denote those aspects of, or associated with, the new ICT, which may be perceived as comprising core, critical factors against which the level of capability of National Capacity for ICT (e-governance) may be assessed, measured and interpreted. CSFs, perceived to be critical for the success of any e-governance initiative are best modelled as a three-tier minimalist framework, comprising CSFs at levels described as macro-, meso-, and micro- levels. The nature of any given ICT initiative which is appropriate nationally in central government, locally in local government, or in the public service, in the civil service, or in some selected sector or jurisdiction of the national economy, whether existing or planned, and whether implicit or explicit, must take cognisance of the need for the identification of CSFs at the inception stage of the initiative.

Chapter 12 explains how ICT have transformed health service delivery (HSD) in developing countries using the Namibian context. The chapter describes the Namibian Health Service Delivery Landscape (NHSDL) to provide an overview of the potential of ICT use by various actors in the health sector. The chapter describes ICT use patterns that are based on a primary survey of 134 patients and key informant interviews held with 27 health service providers (HSPs) in Khomas and Oshana regions of Namibia. The chapter highlights how Namibian patients are using diverse range of ICT to access health services including the traditional television and radio, and the more modern mobile phones and even computers. The chapter also indicates how HSPs have responded to ICT which is now deployed in various functional areas such as admission, clinical support, family planning, maternity, and emergency services. The chapter identifies key challenges and discusses policy implications to enhance the uptake of ICT-based health services in Namibia. The findings in this chapter will benefit HSPs and patients decide on affordable ICT choices; and policy makers as they design interventions to stimulate the use of ICT in HSD in Namibia. The results also provide key insights for other Sub-Saharan African countries contemplating ICT integration in HSD.

The afore-mentioned book chapters indicates the scope and scale of e-agriculture and e-government projects, programs, policies and strategies affecting different countries around the world. The development of e-agriculture and e-government is no longer an issue of whether or not, but a matter how best to proceed with the implementation of the new initiatives. This subject is now a reality and it is attracting major interest among academics, government policy makers, international development analysts, information, communication and technology specialists, and other scholars. As nations transform into knowledge societies, it is expected that the insights gained from reading the book chapters will help academics, policy makers, consultants, and other practitioners to craft more viable ICT polices, make adjustments to poorly conceived policies, and perhaps most importantly, introduce the philosophy of being proactive in constructing a sustainable global e-agriculture and e-government development policy in the 21st century.

This work is just the beginning of more work that still needs to be done to advance this huge knowledge frontier which has slowly evolved into a specialist discipline or field of research and practice in some Universities around the world. I trust that the readers of this book will find it extremely valuable as I find the narrative on various country case studies, theoretical frameworks, and discussions on ICT policy issues both stimulating and exciting. The combined effort of all the authors who have contributed chapters to make this publication a success has greatly expanded our understanding of e-agriculture and e-government and the associated global policy development issues. The successful development of e-agriculture and e-government around the world offers numerous opportunities to reduce global poverty and raise standards of living of millions of people through improvements in food and agricultural production, better linkages to input and product markets, value chain integration and coordination, and efficient public service delivery in the 21st century and beyond.

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Blessing M. Maumbe earned his PhD in Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University in 2001. He has received academic fellowship awards from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Michigan State University’s Thoman Fellowship, and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)/ Germany Agency for Technical Development (GTZ). Blessing has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in agribusiness management, agribusiness strategy, and global food marketing at various universities in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the United States over the past two decades. He is currently serving as Professor and Executive Dean for the Faculty of Commerce at Bindura University of Science Education. Prior to that, he was an Associate Professor of Agribusiness at Massey University in New Zealand and an Assistant Professor of Agribusiness Management at West Virginia University for about 3 years. Before joining West Virginia University, he served as an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Business Informatics at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, in Cape Town, South Africa and Associate Professor of Agribusiness Management at Eastern Kentucky University for a period of about six years. Blessing has worked extensively in the area of e-agriculture and mobile agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. He has published several papers in international journals and conference proceedings and is an active member of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). His current research focuses on the organization and performance of agribusiness value chains and the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in agriculture and rural development. Blessing has recently edited a new book entitled Technology, Sustainability and Rural Development in Africa and he is the founding Editor-in-Chief of theInternational Journal of Information and Communication Technology Research and Development in Africa (IJICTRDA).