An informal interaction with the Latin American delegation visiting India and MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)

Filed under: March 2010 |


A delegation consisting of key officials from some Latin American countries visited India as part of a  study tour from 2nd  to 17th December 2009 to learn about MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)’s various ICT-enabled development initiatives and their experimentations and innovations in the field of agriculture.


The group consisted of Gustavo Alejandro Chacón Cruz from Instituto de Investigación Agropecuaria (INIA), Chile; Ángel Rómulo Elgueta Lagos from Telecentro Universidad de la Frontera, Chile; Mrs Maria Roquebert, Executive Secretary of Nutrinet Foundation, Panama; Jacqueline Rocío Quintana Flores, Deputy Director, Agricultural Markets, Ministry of Agriculture, Peru; Luís Erquícia, Director of the Sustainable School Feeding Programme, Chuquisaca, Bolivia; Ramon Dario Zuluaga Giraldo, Food Security Advisor for Social Action, High Commission for Social Action and Social Collaboration, Colombia; Rodolfo Pablo Cortés Díaz from Fundación para la Innovación Agraria, Chile; Sandra Alzate, Director, International Cooperation for Social Action, Colombia; and Praveen Agrawal, Country Director, WFP, Bogota; Colombia.
This study tour was supported by the Government of Chile and the World Food Programme. It was a follow up of the MSSRF delegation’s visit to Chile during 22nd – 30th October 2009 in response to Government of Chile’s interest in replicating their ICT-model to address problems of small farmers. The delegation reached New Delhi on 13th December 2009 to interact with some Indian technocrats and policy makers and share their views and experiences in the ICT led development domain.

During an interaction with the participants, they reflected on the purpose of their study tour, their impressions about the ICT led development initiatives of MSSRF, such initiatives in their respective countries and so on. Romulo from Chile is working with telecentres and is aware of and all the people associated with it, like Basheerhamad Shadrach, Florencio Ceballos and Eiko Kawamura. He also shared stories about some interesting telecentre activities, like video conferencing between patients admitted in hospitals and their relatives living in different parts of the same city or the world. He also shared a video on this, which is available on youtube at:

Since the delegates are primarily Spanish speaking, Gusatvo from Chile acted as the volunteer interpreter throughout the tour and has earned a lot of kudos from the team members. We troubled him off and on for assisting us in talking to the delegates. Gustavo, himself, is an IT expert and is working for ICT application in agriculture to help the small farmers. We learnt a lot from him about ICT based collection and collation of weather related data and providing weather related information to the farmers.

He also helped us in communicating with Jacqueline from Peru. She is working for the Ministry of Agriculture, Peru and like India, they are using both the traditional (like community radio) and the modern technologies (like Computer, Internet) to disseminate information among the farmers. The penetration of mobile phones is low because of the sheer cost of the hand sets. The connectivity is also not very reliable, so their community radio programme is more successful and popular among the farmers.

Maria liked the gender sensitive empowerment model of MSSRF, which emphasises capacity building with or without the use of ICTs, as the context permits. Therefore, the non availability of connectivity is not a limitation for them. They are using simple tools like the ubiquitous loud speaker and the community newspaper for information provision. I also had a brief talk with Luís Erquícia, Director of the Sustainable School Feeding Programme, Chuquisaca, Bolivia.

We also had a peep into their personal life when Gustavo shared a video on the piano concert of his beautiful daughter and others also showed us the pictures of their beautiful children. Gustavo concluded the meeting very aptly by saying that this is how “ICTs” connect us and let us share about our countries, culture… going down to our families too.  Joshua Dobbs Authentic Jersey

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