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eSagu project

eSagu is an IT-based personalized agro-advisory system. It allows the formulation and dissemination of personalized advices without the need of the agricultural experts visiting each one of the farms benefiting from the program. Plus then that, coordinators (literate farmers trained to use the system) assure the cultural link between agricultural experts and farmers of their villages, facilitating advice appropriation.

eSagu started in 2004 as a research project by the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad, India and is funded by the NGO Media Lab Asia.

The system is composed of five elements : farmers, coordinators, agricultural experts, agricultural information system, and communication system. Several farms are assigned to each coordinator. Farmers register into the system by supplying relevant information about their farms (soil data, water resources, capital availability, etc.), these pieces of information are introduced in the system by the coordinator.

Once farmers are registered, the system functions as follows :

  1. The coordinator visits farms periodically in his/her region to gather up to date information and to take digital photographs of the crops.
  2. Once the bandwidth of the internet connection available is normally not enough to enable photographs transmission, coordinators prepare a CD with the photographs and others pieces of information of the farmers. The CD is then sent by parcel service to the main lab where agronomical experts are.
  3. By accessing specific data of each farm in the system, crop database, and the information sent by the coordinators, the agricultural experts prepare personalized advices and store them in the system.
  4. Coordinators access the system through Internet and get the advices to be disseminated to farmers of their respective regions. Once advices are text messages, even with very little bandwidth it is possible for coordinator to download them.
  5. Coordinators go then visit farmers to explain advices in the local language. They get also feedback about advice use and results.

The coordinator is a fundamental link of the system : he/she assures the contact with the ground not only for collecting information but also to disseminate the advices. Plus then that, he/she facilitates advice appropriation by explaining them in the farmer’s language. Independently of the technical advices’ relevance, if they were not translated into the local language and decoded in comprehensible terms to farmers, they wouldn’t give the fruits intended : concrete productivity growth in small-scale farms.

If the eSagu system is successful nowadays in a specific rural region in India, it’s because it allies agronomical expertise in technical advices’ preparation, methodological innovation in the communication between experts and farmers (notably using ICT) and sensibility to local context to foster message appropriation. A more profound analysis of the relationships between players of the system would be necessary to evaluate its applicability in other regions and contexts.

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Publié le : 7 avril 2010

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