USING ICTs TO GET ACCESS TO INFORMATION ON AGRICULTURE MARKET

By: Pou Sokvisal

INTRODUCTION Cambodia is an agricultural country and agriculture has remain the mainstay of Cambodia economy. Agriculture sector in Cambodia is lacking the use of information technology hence farmers are struggling hard to overcome their financial problems. Cambodia is one of the world's poorest economies, and, thus, economic development is its highest priority. Much of its population is involved in subsistence farming (families producing what is needed for daily living). About 66 percent of the country is forested or woodlands, with only 13 percent of the land arable. Agriculture is about doing farming, growing some of seasonal crop; raise animals, and doing some off-farm work. All the activities are likely to do in the rural areas, so agriculture and rural development is correlated. However, this sector is essential for Cambodia fighting against poverty but Cambodia is still facing with the problem in the rural area such as irrigation system, land tenure, rural infrastructure, and agriculture technologies as well as using of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in promoting agricultural sector. The farmers are facing many problems in rural areas where they could not proper knowledge and information regarding agricultural related problem. The lack of unawareness and lack of resources farmers have no idea about sell their product in the market. If the government desire to improve the agricultural sector, improve farmers capacity, lifestyle, and produce more agriculture productivity the government of Cambodia should improve and develop the rural side first, especially on ICTs development. ICT DEFINITION Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) refer to technologies that facilitate the creation, processing and transfer of information across space and time. ICTs enable performing tasks quickly, efficiently and comprehensively, facilitating the flow of large volumes of information to a wide audience across numerous geographical locations. This included Internet, wireless networks, cell phones, landline computers, fax, and other communication mediums. Traditional ICTs, such as conventional radio, landline telephones, newspapers, TV and libraries. As ICTs are definition a means of communication and information sourcing and manipulation, it is important to included traditional information sources institutions, such as libraries and post offices, in areas where the general level of access to ICT is still growing. USING MODERN AND TRADITIONAL ICTs AS MARKETING TOOL Marketing is defined as the process of identifying, communication with and maintaining relationships with buyers of a producer’s products to directly affect volume, value and timing of sales. Marketing activities enable a producer to find new buyers, build and maintain relationships with current buyers, and access market research to manage supply, anticipate demands and establish prices. For some commercial farmers, traders, wholesalers and exporters often have well-developed marketing function operating in these areas. Smallholders, however, are still very limited in their marketing capacities. Often they are individual households who depend upon just one buyer, and have little access to price or other demand-related information and little power to negotiate.

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MOBILE PHONE Use mobile phone as a marketing tool is a very good idea to help farmers to get access to more information. Farmers use mobile phone to build a network of contacts and draw on this wider experience and expertise to obtain critical information more rapidly. Essentially the mobile phone, its special applications, and the internet are becoming management tools for farmers, specifically in relation to marketing. Greater access to information seems to help farmers make better decisions around transportation and logistics, prices and location, supply and demand, diversification of their product base, and access to inputs. Basic voice calls have already empowered smallholders by expanding their immediate communication networks to be in contact with a wider circle of potential buyers. Using mobile phones facilitates transactions and provides producers access to relevant timely producers access to relevant timely information, allowing them to sell at a higher price improve their income. Mobile phones or smart phones are being use in Cambodia for all classes of family. For farmers users it was use to deliver market information. Pricing is the most widely shared information with other information provided including weather, crop advisory, fertilizer availability, and updates on government schemes. Using mobile phone to deliver this type of information can benefit smallholder farmers by raising their bargaining power and increasing their incomes by enabling them to better manage their inventories and negotiate for fairer prices, reduce price dispersion and by reducing year-to-year price variations. In recent years, short message and text services have taken up and effectively deliver prices and trading information via mobile phone to farmers but the message was deliver in English it would be great if some of mobile companies have Khmer message services to the local people, especially people living in the rural areas. RADIO PROGRAM The global and Cambodia is increase in technology and connectivity have resulted in a rapid expansion of applications, tools, and software. This has created new opportunity for innovation in information dissemination in poor rural areas. The use of mobile phones, tablet, the internet, and other modern hardware is common in many developed and developing countries today, but one of the oldest technologies is radio. Radio program have long provide useful informing population in remote locations. Radio is also known as a traditional ICT for the people, it is one of a popular ICT that all kinds of people get access to it, especially for the rural people. Majority of people living in the rural areas are owned a radio. Farmers, sellers, and producers would be easy to get access to information on the product prices which facilitate it easy to farmers to negotiate price with traders. Farmers’ need accurate information on agriculture price as well as technique including input use, and they also need to source good-quality inputs in a timely way for production. We should have the educational radio program cover on flooding control, farm and household management, food safety, nutrition, agriculture and farm safety. It should also deals with such topics as application of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, rainwater harvesting, treadle pumps, and small scale irrigation management. Illiterate small farmers learn about methods for accessing seeds, reaching the market, and accessing finance and microcredit facilitate. A question and answer service replied to question sent in by farmers and allows them to share experience with one another. Radio program is also help smallholders decide what, when, and how to produce crops, and who they should produce them for. The have access to daily commodity prices to help them decide which market to go to and when, and, thanks to information on the export process.
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TELEVISION Mass media could play an important role in disseminate information about education, health, and agriculture development. Media inform the farmers about weather forecast as well as use of pesticide and indicate about flood situation and environmental change in their areas. Television is one of the powerful channel of the mass media, which transmit information very fast about agricultural technology among the farmers community. It can be said that most important communication tools presented today is mass media through use of this technology and agriculture related information can be transferred easily to the farmers. Both radio and television have one of the most important media for diffuse the technical, systematic and scientific information to the people. In country where literacy level is very low especially in rural areas the choice of mass media is very important. In this context the television and radio are play very major role in transfer modern agricultural technology to educated and uneducated farmers within a short time for farmers communities. The mass media has an increased in the knowledge and information similarly has provided good output in recent years. The main reason of the popularity of television among masses is that it’s simply people propose to choose the easiest way for get information and learning the simplest way can be found in television educational programs about health, education as well as agriculture development. Mass media offer powerful channels for communicating agricultural messages and related information which can enhance the capacity building of farmers. Broadcast media have the ability to disseminate information to large audiences efficiently and television can be a particularly most famous channel among farmers. ICTs MAKE IT EASY FOR FARMERS Upon the farmers are able to use that kinds of ICTs they will have more access to information. Greater access to information seems to help farmers make better decision around: Transportation and logistics: Farmers begin to leverage economics of scales. They can organize and coordinate among themselves and larger-scale truckers to consolidate volume. Greater coordination also occurs around the timing of aggregation, collection, and volumes. Larger volumes can lower costs and enable farmers to realize higher prices. Personal travel is traditionally the most common method of obtaining market information. For example, rather than having to walk a kilometer to a local market to meet a trader, farmers can make a voice call to establish whether price and quantities demanded for a product that day are worth the travel effort. Price and location: An ability to compare prices increase farmers’ power to negotiate with traders. It also enhances farmers’ ability to change the time and place of marketing to capture a better price. Supply and demand: Farmers gain greater control over their production and product sales by finding new sources of demand, improve their ability to adjust supply and quality to market conditions, and learn about quality, grades, and product presentation. Diversification of their product base: Over the long term, a better understanding of market demand and consumer trends helps farmers diversify into higher-value crops and capture greater value. Access to inputs: Farmers can make more informed decisions about which inputs are better or cheaper to buy and when and where to best obtain them.
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CHALLENGES OF ICTs AND AGRICULTURE IN CAMBODIA Technology is not the challenges for ICT development in Cambodia but the real problem is about the human factor remains the greatest barrier to development and the major reason which lead to failure in development and link between ICT and agriculture. Rural areas lag behind in terms of ICT access. Factors contributing to this include illiteracy, lack of computer skills, and lower household incomes. The major factors preventing rural regions from benefiting from ICTs are quality and cost, as well as low penetration of landline telecommunication services. The issue regarding ICT access is broader than spatial and infrastructural aspects. It includes a variety of factors influencing usage patterns, such as: education; mobility of individuals, families and communities; user friendliness; and cost of offered technologies by private sector, government and NGOs. Most ICTs have urban bias due to connectedness, including factors such as roads, power and telephone requirements. Weak road networks, non-availability of electric power or a lack of fixed telephone lines directly cause discrimination against rural areas regarding access to ICTs. An absence of the necessary minimum skills to use ICTs and a lack of awareness regarding the uses of ICTs to enhance livelihood. The absence of a perceived need the services considered not useful or desired by the community Poverty has social and political roots. Simply using a new ICT will not reduce poverty. ICTs must be applied within a given context. Often, social and political change is also needed for poverty reduction. Poverty levels differ within the rural areas. People struggling to survive have little benefit of ICTs due to travel time and cost. Most of training initiatives focus on providing computer literacy skills in school, which means that they are mostly used by scholars, rather than a broader range of the population; the older generation has few opportunities to obtain these computer skills.

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SOLUTION FOR ICTs DEVELOPMENT IN AGRICULTURE IN CAMBODIA Access to information in rural communities is vital. It can form the basis for a radical shift from a helpless poverty stricken status to social, educational and economic know-how that could lead to development. Some rural people use either the radio or the TV on a daily basis for social and information purposes. Mobile phones are mostly used for personal and emergency matters, such as making or receiving calls. There are many things which need to be done to help resolve the challenges of ICT in Cambodia as follow: Capacity Building and Empowerment: The government, communities and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which working on that field can be help through the use of ICTs to strengthen farmer’s capacity and better represent themselves when negotiating input and output prices. Enhance rural access: Ensure low prices for mobile cost in rural areas or if possible for broadband internet; awareness raising and capacity building of rural communities to sue and
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maintain ICT; support technical innovations for rural connectivity, such as wireless broadband connections or solar powered system. Infrastructure: o sufficient telecommunication services in rural areas; sufficient internet connectivity; better o Better energy provision infrastructure o More accessible road infrastructure o Adequate technical infrastructure in the rural areas and improve the signal distribution, TV services and network services for mobile. Awareness of benefits: o Raise awareness on the benefit of using ICTs in promote agriculture productivities and marketing by provide knowledge of ICT among different age groups o Increase awareness and understanding of the potential of the internet to improve personal and economic well-being to rural people o Awareness program about ICT skills training options and access points Training, skills development and knowledge transfer: There is a dire need for training and transfer of ICT skills to the rural poor. This should start with an awareness campaign of the benefits and potential of ICT in terms of improving livelihood. Case study examples must be made available to the rural poor, and training in the application of ICTs as a tool to improve socio-economic conditions should be provided. The government and CSOs should working to increase low literacy rate of rural population. Should provide a sufficient training in ICT skills for education professional and commune council and education on how ICT could be used to generate markets for goods and service and which ICTs would enable them to do so.

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Poverty reduction is about developing people their mind, experiences and potential. It is about learning skills and attaining a technology competency and fluency that will assist people in becoming more productive citizen. CONCLUSION In conclusion, ICTs are giving much potential to increase the opportunity for farmers on their access to information related to agriculture technique as well as the information on the agriculture market. ICT is also enables rural communities to interact with other stakeholders, thus reducing social isolation. It widens the perspective of local communities in terms of national developments, opens up new opportunities and allows easier contact with friends and relatives. Due to the use of ICT in agriculture in still a new topic and rapidly changing area, there is a need to raise awareness among government, CSOs, national stakeholders and the international donor community on the potential to the people especially to rural population and the government should invest more budget on this sector as well.

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REFERENCES: Rectangular Strategy by Hun Sen Phase II: Rectangular Strategy for growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency Overseas Development Institute (Nov 2002). ICTs and Rural Development: Review of the Literature, Current Interventions and Opportunities for Action (Working Paper 192). Robert Chapman and Tom Slaymaker Cambodia National Poverty Reduction Strategy (2003-2005). Council for Social Development Economic Institute of Cambodia, Cambodia Agriculture Development Report (2006) InfoDev, Enhancing the livelihoods of the rural poor through ICT: A knowledge Map (2008) Jac Stienen, Wietse and Frans Neuman, International Institute for Communication and Development: How ICT can make a difference in agricultural livelihoods

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