CRISP undertook this study for the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
There has been a lot of interest during the last two decades in employing Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for achieving development. While many of these initiatives have benefited rural women by way of access to new information and new employment opportunities, women still face a number of constraints in accessing ICTs.
The research concludes that, while most of the ICT initiatives are disseminating new information and knowledge useful for rural women, many are not able to make use of it, due to lack of access to complementary sources of support and services. Among the varied tools, the knowledge centres and the community radio were found to have the greatest potential in reaching women with locally relevant content. There is immense potential for ICTs to create new employment opportunities for rural women and to contribute significant gains in efficiency and effectiveness in rural women enterprises. While ICTs can play an important role in empowering rural women, women’s access and use of ICTs and empowerment clearly depends on the vision and operational agenda of the organization applying the ICTs. Therefore, strengthening the ICT initiatives of such organizations can go a long way in empowering rural women. Besides generating locally relevant content and enhancing the capacities of rural women in accessing ICTs, efforts are also needed to bridge the different types of digital divide (rural-urban; men-women).
This research undertaken for the Research Into Use (RIU) programme used the contemporary understanding of communication and innovation in reviewing the experience of ICTs in putting new knowledge into use in South Asia.
The findings from this research suggest that ICTs in general have not contributed effectively to the challenge of putting new knowledge into use as they are mostly used to support traditional communication tasks — such as information dissemination and training. This under‐utilisation of the potential of ICTs could be due to: a lack of appreciation of the new communication‐ intermediation tasks required for innovation, underestimation of the roles of intermediaries and their capacities for innovation and lack of networks needed for communities to make use of the information provided through ICTs. Although the understanding on communication, innovation and extension has changed substantially in the past two decades, there is still a big gap between theory and practice. This paper contends that this gap needs to be bridged if ICTs are to effectively contribute to putting new knowledge into use.
ICTs are being increasingly used for Knowledge Management (KM) nowadays. In spite of this, rapid deployment of ICTs for KM is a major challenge. This research explored the challenges in using ICT for KM using the case of “agropedia” – an ICT mediated knowledge management platform for Indian agriculture.
KM is no more a technical challenge, but rather constrained by social and organizational barriers. Without initiating institutional and policy changes in addressing these barriers, KM continues to elude Indian agriculture.