6.8.3 In the “Buzz” about IT, don’t Forget About “AT” - Appropriate Technology and Traditional Communication Technologies

The hype about IT should be balanced with the reality that appropriate technologies, radio and television still play a significant roles. In many parts of Africa, radio remains most people’s main sources of information. Even as pioneer innovate and help young people increase their access to new technology, mainstream rural YEO initiatives should assess their target population, find out how they normally receive information and channel information through those media.Much of the agricultural IT for rural areas focuses on linking farmers to information about AT, “appropriate technology,” which in this context refers to tools and skills that rely on more local resources and are simpler to operate and maintain. The information available on-line and/or delivered via SMS is not “rocket science.” Rather it focuses on improvements in traditional agricultural practices - methods for tilling the soil, access to improved seeds and agro-chemicals, improve crop storage methods using locally available materials, etc. Some of the newest innovations – such as organic compost production and sale  – are lower tech than typically used practices. Nevertheless, getting these innovations and improvements into the hands and practices of farmers is significant both for farmers and for agricultural production and food security. 

AT in Rural YEO

TechnoServe’s Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE)[1] program delivers training and mentoring to young people ages 18-35 in rural Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.  (For more information see Section 5.2) STRYDE[2] uses TV dramas to promote youth entrepreneurship.

ACDI/VOCA[3] used radio in its Kenya Maize Development Program to promote its Farming as A Family Business approach.  Kenya Maize Development Program was a mainstream value chain development program that enhanced outcomes by engaging farmer families, rather than just male family representatives.  (For more information, see section 3.1 Radio dramas helped bring to life the challenges of inter-generation farming and how to address them by working better as a family, and as a business.  Interested farmers or farming community leaders could contact ACDI/VOCA to receive training and other services.  The farming technologies promoted by the program were very mainstream and low tech: improved seeds, appropriate farming techniques, use of agro-chemicals, collective storage and marketing to get good prices, etc.  

Fabretto Children’s Foundation’s The SAT (Sistema de Aprendizaja Tutorial  or Tutorial Learning System)  in Nicaragua[4] is a non-formal high school degree program focused on sustainable agriculture and rural development. SAT has been offered to 760 students and all are employed or furthering their education.  A key student business makes and sells organic compost to coffee farmers.


[1] STRYDE is a $11.5 million, four-year program to help rural young women and men in East Africa transition to economic independence.  It is funded by The MasterCard Foundation and implemented by TechnoServe.

[2] STRYDE is a $11.5 million, four-year program to help rural young women and men in East Africa transition to economic independence.  It is funded by The MasterCard Foundation and implemented by TechnoServe.

[3] ACDI/VOCA is an international NGO that promote economic opportunities for cooperatives, enterprises and communities through the innovative application of sound business practice.

[4] Fabretto Children’s Foundation empowers underserved children and their families in Nicaragua to reach their full potential, improve their livelihoods, and take advantage of economic opportunities through education and nutrition.