Portrayal  of  Information  Communication  Technology  in Empowering  Rural  Female  Laboure’s  in  Agricultural Field

Sayantika Ghosh, SACT, Gobardanga Hindu College, Ph.D. Research Scholar, RBU.

“ New Technology is not good or evil in and of itself. It’s all about how people choose to use it ”1     – David Wong                           

                                                                                         

The term ‘ICT’ denotes ‘Information Communication Technologies’. Accessing of information through telecommunication is the technology referred by ICT. It mainly focuses on communication technologies, which includes Internet, Wireless network, cell phones and other communication medium. It is a system that allow people to interact in the real-time with each other in different countries by using technologies like instant messaging app like WhatsApp, hike, skype, lite messenger, Facebook, line, etc. Thus ICT helps in promoting and distributing new and existing information and knowledge which is communicated within different sector. Thus ICT spreads information and knowledge about farming in the agricultural sector. Since information is most important for facilitating agricultural and rural development and bringing about social and economic changes. (Swanson and Raja Lahti 2010).2

In today’s scenario, ICT have created a “global village” where people can communicate from one corner to the other corner of the world. This is the modern communication technology which is affecting the society in a worldwide by spreading information on specific purpose. It encompasses both Internet – enabled sphere and also the mobile, powered by wireless network. It also includes antiquated technologies, such as landline, telephone, radio and television broadcast – all of which are still widely used today.

Information and Communication technology in agriculture is also known as‘E- Agriculture’, which is applying innovative ways to use ICT’s in the rural domain, with a primary focus on agriculture. E- agriculture is one of the action lines identified in the declaration and plan of action of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS)3. The “Tunis Agenda for the Information Society”4published on 18th November 2005 and emphasizes the leading facilitating roles that UN agencies need to play in the implementation of the Geneva plan of action.

With the rolling time the face of agriculture is extending. The Agricultural Developmental programs rely mostly on ICT’s to enhance farmers and communities uptake of practices and innovations for improved food security. In the remote areas radio and television plays the most pivotal role and still is the most important means for the dissemination of information related to agriculture. Internet and mobile technology represents a good trait – d’union that links farmers with market.

During the 70’s , the term Development was broadened. With the advent of globalization in 1990’s there was a vast change in the process of development and the effect was mostly felt in the rural area of the agricultural sector of India, ICT have played a pivotal role in developing communication channels in the rural areas.

Over many years there were significant changes in the agricultural sector that brought an ample changes. Along with the other revolutions like American Revolution , Industrial revolution there were also Green Revolution, in the mid-and late 20th century which changed the field of agriculture. In this period of time new chemical fertilizers and synthetic herbicides and pesticides were created, the supply of crops with extra nutrients was made possible because of the chemical fertilizers. The synthetic herbicides and pesticides controlled weeds, killed insects and prevented many diseases which resulted in higher productivity. High yield crops were specifically designed to produce more overall yield and the process known as Multiple cropping, where a field is used to grow two or more crops throughout the year.

In 1960’s India was desperate for a breakthrough. The nation’s self-confidence was at ebb. Political uncertainty loomed and there were shortage of food. The only solution was to bring in use of more land area under cultivation to balance the situation. India then discovered Borlang and the Norin Dwarf, a small field at Pusa was seeded and the results were dramatic. In 1960’s there was a miracle at Swaminathan laboratory in New Delhi, and after few years at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, Swaminathan brought into India , seeds developed in Mexico by U.S agricultural Guru Norman Borlan. Wheat plant was created that yielded much more grains than traditional types. Scientists at IRRI accomplished the same miracle for rice. Imminent tragedy turned to a new era of hope for Asia, paving the way for the Asian economic miracle of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Thus with the help of Information Communication Technology, the transmission of knowledge and information were crystal clear with the help of which the cycle was completed without any barrier.

In India, Agriculture introduces the familial tradition, social relations and gender roles. Female in the agricultural sector, whether through traditional means or industrial for subsistence or as an agricultural laborer, represents a momentous demographic group. According to the International Development Community, agriculture is an engine of growth and poverty reduction in countries, where it is the main occupation of the poor. It is found that in many developing countries the agricultural sector is underperforming in part. It is because women who plays the pivotal role in the agriculture and rural economy through their roles as farmer’s, labourers and entrepreneurs aces difficulties than men in access to productive resources.

According to 2012 data, India is known as the home to the fourth largest agricultural sector in the world. Whereas, West Bengal, a state in the eastern India is primarily dependent on agriculture. West Bengal was still dependent on the central government for meeting its demand for food; food production remained stagnant. Green Revolution changed the situation of the state.

Women plays the most active role in the contribution to the agricultural and rural economies. Their contribution is equally distributed within the house and outside the house. They often manage complex household works. Their works includes producing agricultural crop, tending animals, processing and preparing foods engaging themselves in trade and marketing , processing and preparing foods.

Accessing to information resources reflects women empowerment. The female Agricultural Labourers were observed as the weakest among the male farmers, lacks knowledge and skills compared to their male counterparts. Information communication Technology plays the most important role by bridging the gap. It , thus helps in improving the land use, water management, marketing of the products, growth of the products. According to – “The USAID Gender Equality policy places gender equality and female empowerment at the core of its development objective. It is based on the recognition that no society can develop successfully without providing equitable opportunities, resources and life prospects for both males and females so that they can shape their own lives and contribute to their families and communities”.5 USAID main goal was to decrease gender disparity in accessing ICT and control over power and the ability to benefit from resources, wealth, opportunities and services. Gender equality in agriculture helps to identify the ways to overcome the obstacles and constraints women face the change in the situation of the power of women and the growth of the agriculture. It is noted that the development of a country is understood when the country faces no discrimination, there is equal distribution of power, wealth facilities and many more. With the help of these equal discrimination, they can give shape to their life and can contribute to their families as their wish. These help them in taking decisions about agricultural production, to control the power over production making decision to control the use of income, to take the decision of making power, maintain the time. ICT’s thus helps the female agricultural labourer to increase the engagement of women in their domain.

Source – www.google.com (https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.computerscijournal.org%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2017%2F08%2FVol10_No3_Rol_Sur_Fig3.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.computerscijournal.org%2Fvol10no3%2Frole-of-ict-in-agriculture-policy-implications%2F&tbnid=EOgArhEkVn1WHM&vet=12ahUKEwjAxfmcpq_2AhXlZWwGHZFhDRsQMygAegQIARAb..i&docid=tjEmhkET8LogHM&w=614&h=427&q=role%20of%20ICT%20inAriculture&ved=2ahUKEwjAxfmcpq_2AhXlZWwGHZFhDRsQMygAegQIARAb#imgrc=EOgArhEkVn1WHM&imgdii=s7-5mnH2t03NnM)

The technologies that are used by the female farmers includes Wireless technologies, Global Positioning System, Geographic Information System, Computer Controlled devices ( automated system), Smartphone mobile app in agriculture, RFID, Knowledge management system, E- learning.

  • The wireless network is a low –power wireless measurement and control application that provides cost savings and improves reliability for many long term monitoring applications. It transmits long term data. It consists of a large number of densely deployed small sensor nodes with sensing computation and wireless communication capabilities.
  • The use of Global Positioning System in agriculture provides benefits in geo-fencing, map-making and surveying. Their uses were made cheaper for the civilians to use. GPS helps to produce digitized map without the help of a professional cartographer.
  • Geographic information systems or GIS is used in precision farming (Precision farming are types of farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra field variability in crops .It’s aim is to define a decision support system for whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources), the land is mapped digitally and pertinent geodetic data such as topography and contours are combined with statistical data for easier analysis of the soil. It helps in planting trees by observing the types of soil by using historical data and sampling.
  • The Computer-Controlled Animated device is the automatic Milking system’s that are computer controlled standalone system’s that milk the dairy cattle without human labor.
  • Smartphone Mobile App in agriculture is the most popular app and mostly used by all. It enhances the multi-dimensional positive impact on sustainable poverty reduction, voice and text messages has reached the coner of the rural areas. Several smart phone apps are available for agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and farm machinery. Smartphone mobile applications are designed and developed by Jayalaxmi Agrotech Pvt.ltd from India are the most commonly used agricultural app in India. Their apps are provided in regional language to break the literacy barrier and deliver the information in the easiest way. Thousands of farmers are empowered by the help o these app.
  • RFID technology introduced by The Veterinary Department of Malaysia’s Ministry of Agriculture, a livestock – tracking program in 2009, to track the estimated cattle across the country. Each cattle is tagged with the use of RFID. Technology for easier identification, providing access to relevant data such as:-  bearer’s location, name of breeder, origin of livestock, sex and dates of movement. This program provides improvements in controlling disease outbreaks in livestock.

In today’s scenario the world is facing the period of “Information Explosion”. In the age of information, ICT plays the pivotal role by transmitting the information. With the help of ICT the information’s are transmitted to every corner of the society within no time. This process has given a new turn to the society by changing the mindset of the people. The Media of communication are the means of vehicles, these includes radio, television, internet, telephone including mobile and fax, video conferencing , social networking  etc. Communication is mainly for Social change and development. The Mass Media are the technological agencies and corporate organizations that are engaged in the process of creation, selection, processing and distribution of message. Thus Mass Media reaches large number of diverse kind of people quickly and efficiently. Mass Media in the process of nation building and development plays an important role and are the creations of modern science and technology. They inform, entertain and educate the people and also being desirable changes among people.

By the end of 19th century, cinema came to limelight by bringing the moving images on the scene. Visual medium was more effective on the audience. Development in the field of wireless communication resulted in the establishment of radio broadcast networks. It breaks the barriers of literacy and distance. From the time of Globalization, there have been massive change in the economy. Media included Radio, Newspapers and Television which is used to transmit message from one corner to the other. ‘Door darshan’ provide many programs related to farming, agriculture to the farmers provides ample information, helping them to enhance their knowledge in farming. These visuals allowed them to gather information about farming to adopt new process, measures in farming. Impact of television and radio was much more on the farmers. With the telecast of different program they became more conscious, more aware about the new inventions, new methods, new application applied in the farming. These educate people. The developmental programs in radio allow the farmers to increase their productivity and to uplift their economic growth. Radio is adopted mostly in the rural areas because it is the cheapest, fastest and farthest reaching technique for communication of information to the mass, at a time. For example, Radio kisan Diwas, All India Radio observes 15th February as Radio Kisan Diwsas over all its stations by mounting special programs on the occasion. Farmers, who are benefitted by the information disseminated through agricultural programs on AIR, share their experiences with other farmers in their regional language. The Communication technologies have mainly focused on the urban areas but have great potential to meet the needs of the rural female farmer’s and benefit rural communities. Lack of information, knowledge, accessibility of technology to a wider section of people of some districts are prohibited, due to these those societies are lagging behind in the path of development. Rural farmers need information in order to improve their farm practices which helps in the improvement of their farm production which helps in both the quantity and quality of the production and also the quality of their livelihood. Using of technologies provides opportunities for rapid and cost effective dissemination of agricultural information to the remote area. These technologies helps in providing information about weather , market and market price, diseases, pest outbreaks and the services available for them. This helps the farmers in decision making about the crop production, how to improvise their agricultural practice, how to meet the needs of their farm. ICT helps in the flow of information in order to spread the knowledge to overcome barriers that limits women agricultural laborer accessing to information. Spreading of these knowledge helps the women agricultural laborer in gaining more ideas that helps them to contribute  in improving farming practices and close the gender gaps in yields and productivity and also succeed in dealing with gender specific limitation. Focussing on how the farmers are using ICT in order to gain knowledge may provide insight to how ICT’s can be used more efficiently in order to deliver agricultural messages. Radio, Television, Mobile Phones are used by the wider section of the rural area. Comparing the use of these technologies among the men and women of the rural area, it is found that women’s access to these technologies are less than that of the men accessing to these technologies. It is because women have to contribute both inside and outside her domestic periphery which consumes the entire day and they do not get any leisure time. When information about farm is being broadcast on Radio or Television it is found that the women would be cooking or carrying household work. Mobile phones nowadays play the most pivotal role among the mass. It is the most rapidly increasing form of ICT; it is more accessible than radio and is preferred more for both business and personal communication. Mobile phones usage has become handier for the farmers, it also consists of capacity for storing and making information available for later use. To them some information is sent through Short Messages Service (SMS). Nowadays the female agriculture laborer with mobile phones can access to these messages and use the information in their working process. The messages could be of any Bank information, Gas service information or weather forecasts which could help them in farming process of that particular season. The message may be of products for the farm or the market availability.

Thus Government tries to exploit more accessing of the mobile phones in order to provide more information on related issues like weather, market, diseases and pests and issues related to good farm practices.  Media influences ICT in larger way to increase in the growth of productivity, the more use of land, transmitting information and to increase the source of income. The female famers with the help of these ICT’s improves their productivity, enhances their knowledge about production and produce more labor to their work.

References :-

References :-

  1. www.brainyquote.com, a quotation site.
  2. South African Journal of Agricultural extension. Online version ISSN 2413-3221 by Department of Agricultural Economic, Extension And Rural Development, Updated on September 01, 2017, www.scielo.org.za
  3. Article from WSIS Forum, 12-16, June 2017, Geneva / Switzerland www.itu.int
  4. Ibid
  5. Article on “Gender equality and female empowerment policy”, usaid policy,March 2012  Usaid, from the American People,WASHINGTON DC, www.usaid.gov

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