Web Portals for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services
Agriculture is the largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for the majority of the world’s poorest people. As the backbone of many developing country economies, agricultural development becomes synonymous with global development. Research and development efforts to improve agriculture have been ongoing for nearly a century, but with new and ever-changing global challenges, agriculturists need to be equipped with the right information to tackle those challenges. Through advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs), most of the information needed is available on the internet. But the sheer volume and uncertainty about accuracy makes getting correct and credible information very difficult. Web portals aim to resolve this situation. They are specially designed single access points to information collected from diverse sources.
In the context of agricultural extension and advisory services (EAS), there are two predominant types of portals – those providing technical and market knowledge to end users at the grassroots level, and those helping with capacity development of extension personnel. Knowledge portals (www.knowledgebank.irri.org, www.rkmp.co.in), e-Extension portals (www.eXtension.org, www.agritech. tnau.ac.in, www.e-agriculture.gov.gh), video-based portals (www.accessagriculture.org, www.digitalgreen.org), market information portals (www.agmarknet.nic.in), information portals for rural people (www.vikaspedia.in), and institutional portals for extension and advisory services (www.nafis.go.ke, www.kilimo.go.ke) fall into the former category. Portals like Agricultural Extension in South Asia (AESA) (http://www.aesa-gfras.net) and Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services (MEAS) (http://www.meas-extension.org) contain numerous resources and tools to enable knowledge sharing and networking among service stakeholders, and fall into the latter category.