• Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Project

  • Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Project

  • Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Project

  • Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Project

  • Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Project

  • Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Project

About “Digital Literacy for Small Farmers” Project

Development Wheel (DEW)

13-A/4-A (3rd floor), Babar Road, Block-B

Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207

Email: [email protected]


Digital Literacy for Small Farmers

1.0 Background and justification

1.1 Rationale

Agriculture is the prime mover of the Bangladesh economy, providing largest employment to just under half the workforce and contributing around 20% towards national GDP. A significant proportion of those involved in agriculture are Small Farmers - who are the backbone of our agricultural economy.  As Bangladesh Agriculture substantially shifted towards commercial Agribusiness, the importance of Digitally Literacy of Farmers is of utmost importance. Now the small farmers are more actively incorporated in product value chains. There are sporadic “supply-driven” attempts to provide ICT-enabled agricultural information support and other e-services by Govt., NGOs, private sectors etc. Need of the time is a structured initiative for Digital Inclusion of Farmers community and without which the goal of Vision 2021 for a Digital Bangladesh will be far from its targets.

Bangladesh: Agriculture Sector During the fiscal year 2012 -13, the broad agriculture sector contributed 16.77% to the total GDP. The contributions of crop, fishery, livestock and forestry subsectors in GDP were 9.4 9%, 3.68%, 1.84% and 1.76% respectively. The provisional estimates show that contribution of the broad agriculture sector to GDP in 2013-14 would be 16.33% (BER 2014). Nearly three fifth of the agricultural GDP comes from the crop sub-sector; the other contributors in order of magnitude are fishery, livestock and forestry. Apparently the share of the Agriculture sector in GDP decreasing despite country’s population has been doubled, alarming decrease of arable land, frequent natural calamities, floods, increase in salinity the sector has made a remarkable stride as follows:                                                                                                                           3rd in Vegetable production with highest increase globally (5%); 90% seeds of 60 types and 200 varieties are locally produced and 34% increase in export;Globally 4th in  Rice production with remarkable increase in per hectare production and no import of rice in the last 5 years; Globally 4th in Fish production with 135 time increase in export;9th in Mango production;Livestock’s share in agricultural GDP is gradually increasing since 2011-12. Production of egg, milk and meat also increased substantially.

“Digital Bangladesh” lacks viable examples of largely benefitting small farmers rather represents a different form of “Digital Divide” in terms of underutilized power of ICT for Agricultural Applications despite the success of Govt. to establish last mile connectivity for ICT and the advent of 3G Technology with ever decreasing price of ICT Tools, Equipments.

1.2 Recent developments in Bangladesh on ICT

Bangladesh is positively experiencing a rapid digital transformation with wider use of computer, internet, mobile and various digital technologies. The ever increasing usage rate clearly supports the facts of its utility and value to mass people. With the favorable Government Policies encouraging e-Business, e-Payments, ever growing mobile phone customers base (more than 12 Crore), internet users (6.39 Crore), popularity of social networks and its country-wide coverage with new 3G Technology and remarkable successes in establishing more than four thousands Union Information Service Centers (UISCs), really paving the way to remove the barriers of Digital Divide to a large extent. Govt. has prioritized to bring the whole country under Digital Network and build capacity of majority population on Digital Technology and its applications in day-to-day activities.

DIGITAL BANGLADESH AND VISION 2021   The country has made major strides in achieving its vision of Digital Bangladesh. The data of the Access to Information (A2I) Programme shows that more than 4,000 digital centres provide 60 kinds of public and private services, including computer trainings, land registrations, public exam results, government form downloads, birth and death registrations, online university admissions, employment information, and mobile banking. The centers have already served people 12 crore times with services like registration of seven crore births, and more than 20 lakh overseas job-seekers have had services from the digital centers. Around 10,000 young ICT entrepreneurs have become self-reliant in the 4,547 union digital centers and the entrepreneurs earned Tk 140 crore. By 2016 all union digital centers would be connected via fibre optic cable with one mbps Internet connection. Besides, there was a plan to set up call centers at the village level. The government is now producing 500 mobile phone apps to deliver government services instantly to people and the work to introduce e-office was about to be completed. Moreover around one lakh WiFi zones would be set up across the country with the help of China.

1.3 Gap Analysis

Availability of agricultural information, knowledge and services are plenty. Never the less, digital divide is still affecting a considerable portion of agricultural communities particularly small farmers who are digitally marginalized. Therefore, it is important to examine the existing applications. This gap analysis will pave the way for designing and developing new farm oriented tools based on the recent advances of ICT so that this knowledge and services will be easily accessed and fully exploited by small farmers for their benefits.

Globally small farmers who are supported by appropriately designed ICT-enabled services for their farming activities by making good use of available information, knowledge, existing information systems and tools have increased their productivity to great extent. In Bangladesh national extension system with its vast network coupled with private sector players are continuously providing similar services. Small Farmers play an important role in food production and distribution, having major participation in important farming activities such as budgeting, planting, harvesting, up to marketing of the produces. Another part of our agriculture is the less visible and hardly recognized is the role of Women. Despite women’s significant role in Agriculture, they remain “invisible” in a largely perceived male-dominated job. Though rural women are considered to be active actors in farming, their real contributions to local food production and to the rural economy remain highly undervalued. Women collectively play crucial roles in fighting hunger not only within households, but on a larger scale, by ensuring the nutrition and food security of the nation.

But what is lacking is a systematic approach for a proper Digital Inclusion of Small Farmers through structured Capacity Building Program for Small Farmers so that they become Digital Literate in day-to-day agricultural applications and also is capacitated in using e-services, e-commerce applications, existing portals etc. Unfortunately, small farmers in Bangladesh represents a very low percentage and left technologically behind ignoring ICT and could not efficiently increase their income despite Govt. effort for developing infrastructure for last mile connectivity and implementation of Digital Vision 2021.

2.0 The strategy

ICT is significantly contributing to enhance the efficiency of agricultural value chains and facilitating effective integration of small farmers with product value chains resulting in improved market access for small-scale producers and other actors in the chain. With the advent of Digital Technology in Bangladesh, Small Farmers need to be capacitated for better managing their farming enterprises resulting in increased productivity and profitability. Besides they need to learn the use and applications of e-Services of the Govt. and Private Sector and harness the power of Digital Technology for Agribusiness.

This proposed pilot project for Digital Literacy for Small Farmers is conceived to be more than being a capacity building activity and is meant to increasing the productive participation of women in local agriculture and food production underscoring women’s primary contributions and sacrifices to the growth of the agriculture sector. Beside attempt will be made to include representative from the local ethic community. Certainly education, training and e-services play a very important role for ICT adoption by farmers. The program broadly is expected to develop skills on Small Farm Management capabilities and enhance their overall farm management potential. The basic real life application digital literacy training will focus on teaching participants with basic computer concepts and skills so that they can be more productive both at home and in the field on their day to day activities on developing farming skills.

3.0 Program Concept and Design

Different type of e-Agri Services are being introduced by the Govt. A2I and the Private Sector but there is a dearth of truly equipping Small Farmers on use and apply ICT Tools and Applications. Along with hands-on Training on Computer and the emergence and convergence of Computer, Internet, Mobile, Tabs etc. have opened vast opportunities for envisaged “Digital Farmers”. Like Class-room based Training is needed for the Foundation Training but of Knowledge & Skills development may continue with Laptops in the Fields, Web-enabled Learning, Mobile-based Lessons & Apps (Applications for Specific Agricultural Management Tools) will help in Continuous Learning and larger outreach.  

As the Web technologies emerge from early 90s, a rapid development of web based training methods occurs in the field of education. New forms of education are introduced, as the Internet-based content delivery which is used in e-learning courses. The learner now Interacts through the ICT tools provided and therefore has an active role in the educational procedure. In particular, from 1995 until present, the web based training evolution includes the delivery of Internet-based flexible courseware, characterized by increased interactivity for the learner.

3.1 Digital Literacy Training Modules 

The Modules are planned with a view to equip Farmers systematically with Skills, Knowledge and Applications of ICT. The Modules are outlined below. It is proposed that the Digital Literacy Program will combine use of Class-Room Training on Computer with Field-level Applications Classes using Laptops with Instructors at the Farm Level providing on-the-field Hands-on Training and Demonstrations with Real-life Cases of Farmers. This on-the-field extension of Class Room will create ripple-effect for others who will see how ICT in Bangladesh can assist the Farming Community in different aspects. It will facilitate wider outreach of e-Agri and other e-Services extended by Govt. of Bangladesh under its Digital Vision 2021. The Training Modules are outlined below:

 The above mentioned three (3) modules are planned for farmers will certainly facilitate “Digital Inclusion” and help farmers attain the desired level of digital literacy addressing the existing barriers and challenges. These appropriately designed training Modules are expected to improved capability of farmers and contribute in enhanced income & profitability. 

Small Farmers of Bangladesh (40% women) under this proposed Digital Literacy of Farmers Project envisages to equip themselves with Simple-to-Learn Computer Skills and Easy-to-Apply proven ICT Tools and Applications (APPs) for:

  1. Yield-enhancement, Cost-efficient Farm Management, Knowledge on Post-Harvest Operations (including Processing, Preservation, Packaging & Marketing), Utilize Weather Data for managing Drought, Flood & Climate Change, profit calculation, Market info.
  2. Profiling of Farmers for availing bank Credit, Insurance and Govt. incentives, subsidies and e-Services;
  3. e-Registration for Contract farming, Value Chain Partnership etc.

4.0 The Target Groups

DEW has been managing several Development Projects in the target region covering selected areas of Mymensingh Division, Tangail and has successfully developed Agricultural & Horticultural Small Farmers’ Group (Including 40% women and 10% ethnic minority) region-wise as follows:

DistrictUpazilaNo. of Small FarmersComposition
MymensinghSadar120 (40% women

DEW has build technical capacity of above mentioned Small Farmers, facilitated access to quality Farm Inputs (Seeds, IPM Materials, Biofertlisers etc) through linkage with Private Input Suppliers, provided technological support and organised Buyers-Sellers Meet. The resultant impact is that the target region has emerged as a new Agri/ Horticulture Production Clusters in Mymensingh with small farmers from the neighbouring regions are also participating in the same. Further the new 4-lane highway connecting Mymensingh with Dhaka has worked as a catalyst to help emerge the region as a new hub for Agricultural/ Horticultural products. Improved accessibility has facilitated influx of large number of Buyers from Dhaka and different parts of Bangladesh.

4.1 Number of Target Beneficiaries

The proposed Digital Literacy for Small Farmers Pilot Project intends to build capacity of 4 groups consists of 30 farmers in each groupwho are selected Small Farmers with inclusion of 40% Women in Mymensingh sadar upazila.

5.0 The institutional framework:

5.1 Implementing agency

Development Wheel (DEW) is a non govt. organization founded in 1996 by a few development professionals and researchers to promote self-help poverty alleviation initiatives of the poorest households in Bangladesh. The main focus of the organization is to work for the promotion of the sustainable livelihoods for small scale Agriculture and Arts and Crafts sector producers in Bangladesh through facilitating the development of small enterprises with an aim to generate sustainable self-employment opportunities for under-privileged rural and urban people. Besides, DEW is also active in the fields of climate change, livelihoods security, agricultural promotion, women empowerment, human rights and good governance in partnership and collaboration with different international and national organizations with a vision to have a society where all people will enjoy equal rights, equitable access to employment and adequate resources necessary for their livelihoods and will live in dignity. DEW is a Guaranteed Fair Trade Organization.

5.2 Collaborating institutions:

DEW will collaborate with leading ICT Service Providers, DAE, along with its in-house ICT trainers, agriculture scientist.

6.0 Objectives:      

i. Development objective:

The intended project seeks to transform Small Farmer (Including 40% women) through Digital Literacy Training for harnessing potential of ICT in Agricultural development of Bangladesh. The initiative will substantially contribute in integrating Small Farmers with a Digitally-empowered Knowledge Economy.

ii. Immediate objective

  • To  focus on leveraging ICT for benefit of Small Famers through real-life applications for improving farm productivity and enhancing profitability;
  • To empower Small Farmers to avail e-services extended by Govt. and others agencies and create a significant positive impact to our agrarian economy as a whole.

7.0 Major outputs and activities

Output #1:      

To develop Digital Literacy and training module for Small Farmers.

Activity #1 :    

To appoint Consultants to develop Course Curriculum & Materials, Training materials, handouts etc and delivering these handouts to farmers.

Output #3:      

Electronic services from GoB, A2I others agri based apps for and farmers.

Activities 2: To find and teach the farmers agriculture based relevant ICT applications for small farmers from GOB, A2I and Upazilla and Zilla farmers' organization of Development Wheel (DEW) in profitable calculation and others.

Output #4:      

To organize Digital Literacy Training for Small Farmers.

Activities 3:                                 

i. To develop training plan for 120 Small Farmers (4 group’s 30 members in each groups) to conduct:

  • Class-room based Computer Training on Basic Computer & Orientation on Packages
  • Field-level Training on-Farmers’ site using Laptop, tab and phone and help relate Class room learning with Real-life Farm cases and applications
  • Refreshers Training on both Class room and field-based training with hands-on training one-Services extended by Government  

8.0 Inputs: To provide (Trainer, field facilitator, and Training material resources required to carry out activities)

8.1 Inputs by Development Partner

8.2 Input by organization

9.0 Budget: Enclosed


Contact Us

House # 13-A/4-A (3rd floor), Babar Road, Block-B, Mohammadpur, Dhaka- 1207, Bangladesh