Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have long been regarded as forces for positive change in agriculture and rural development despite a track record of mixed success with new digital devices and services. ICTs are considered, particularly among frontline development practitioners, as important tools for mobilizing knowledge because they can lower transaction costs associated with information seeking and because they can introduce new social practices for improving farmer education and training using various forms of digital media. Low cost technologies such as the mobile phone have been the subject of intense focus within the ICT4D (ICT for Development) community as holding considerable promise for knowledge mobilization in the agriculture sector.
However, difficulties in creating and sustaining capacity, as well as interest, within communities to adopt and use low cost ICTs for knowledge mobilization activities has prompted leading scholars in the ICT4D community to consider inclusive innovation models that emphasize direct participation of the community in establishing information services and related social practices such as market access information and knowledge networks that can foster iterative learning and long term capacity building within those communities.
A combination of low cost technologies with various open source software platforms for text messaging, crowdmapping, and interactive voice response systems has created a new opportunity to take up and examine more closely the possibilities for articulating an inclusive innovation approach using a technology stewardship model being developed and deployed on a trial basis in Sri Lanka through a partnership with Canadian and Sri Lankan researchers and practitioners.
Technology stewardship is an approach adapted from the Communities of Practice literature for training and supporting individuals and teams who engage their communities to encourage and support innovative practices with low cost, widely available digital technologies.
This presentation will reflect on the results of a collaborative action research project with Canadian and Sri Lankan partners where we have been conducting a series of training programs in technology stewardship with practitioners from the Department of Export Agriculture. Topics covered in the presentation will include the theoretical framework for the stewardship model, early results from pilot work, curriculum development for stewardship training, and preliminary analysis of the results of the latest training workshop that was conducted in Sri Lanka in September 2016.