A web portal named ‘Agriculture Knowledge Bank’ has been developed by AESA project of Dhaka Ahsania Mission

Introduction

The USAID Agricultural Extension Support Activity referred to as Ag. Extension Project (2012-2017) is being implemented by Dhaka Ahsania Mission in partnership with mPower Social Enterprises Ltd. and CARE Bangladesh across three regions namely Jessore, Khulna, and Barisal for capacity building of a farmer demand-driven agricultural extension system, synergized by use of information communication technology (ICT).

In year 3, Ag. Extension Project signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Agricultural Information Service (AIS).As part of the MoU, a number of activities are being conducted at the field level to ensure farmers get quick and easy access to agricultural extension services. However, one of the significant activity was to develop an agricultural web portal which will contain information of crops, from seed selection to marketing. mPower, the technical partner ofAg. Extension Project has developed a web portal named “Agricultural Knowledge Bank” by working closely with AIS focal persons. So far information of 16 crops have been gathered among which information of 6 crops were uploaded in the portal. Before making the web portal officially public, a content validation workshop was held at AIS Seminar Room on 3rd September, 2016.

The overall objective of the workshop was to have the agricultural content validated by experts and get their suggestions and observations on how to improve the interface of the web portal as well as the agricultural contents. The objective was achieved through presentations, group sessions, and plenary discussions.

Dr. Md. Abdur Rouf, Joint Secretary, MoA was the Chief Guest of the workshop. The participants included personnel from Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), various agricultural research organizations, NGO experts and Agricultural University teachers. Nonetheless representatives from famer groups and seed dealers were present at the workshop as well.

Opening Session :

Chief of Party of AESA, Dr. Bidyuth K. Mahalder, formally opened the workshop. He introduced the participants with AESA project in terms of its overall activities in agriculture sector of Bangladesh. He informed the participants about how ICT initiatives taken under the project are helping to reduce the gap of attaining extension services in the country as well as how the farmers are being benefitted through those initiatives.

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A demonstration has been showed on the agricultural knowledge bank portal followed by a presentation on why the decision of developing the web portal was made and how the features of the portal are helpful for the users.

In addition, Assistant Director of AIS and Deputy Director (Farmer Training) of DAE addressed at the workshop. Finally the Chief guest Dr. Md. Abdur Rouf concluded the opening session by thanking the hosts and the participants for committing in this way to support the progress in agriculture sector which will increase productivity of farmers and ensure

Technical Session:

During this one hour session the experts were divided into five groups.  They check the web portal and share their observations regarding its interface. They were also encouraged to provide suggestions on how to make the web portal more user-friendly.

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They came up with significant findings of the web portal interface. To better understand their observations, one member of each group presented their findings. Most of the findings were regarding:

  • Filtering option of the web portal
  • Image quality
  • Missing information&
  • Incorporation of relevant web portal information to make the Agricultural Knowledge Bank portal more resourceful.

Overall the initiative of developing Agricultural Knowledge Bank was appreciated by all the participants. The experts validated the crops information by making due correction. Not only this, they all have committed to make contribution in the maintenance of the web portal.

Ending Session & Way Forward :

To end the workshop, Chief Guest thanked everybody for showing their enthusiasm and interest in the noble cause of creating an agricultural knowledge hub for farmers as well as general people.

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In addition, COP and ICT Head of Operations of AESA project informed the participants that the validated crop information will be updated in the web portal by accommodating the observations shared by the participants. Therefore the launching ceremony of ‘Agricultural Knowledge Bank’ will take place at the end of September, 2016 in the presence of Officials from various government departments, research organization, project staff and most importantly farmers and other relevant stakeholders working in agriculture sector.