TOPICS

Crops, Rural Finance

SOLUTION TYPE

Innovation (technical or institutional), Knowledge Exchange, Technology

REGION

Asia and the Pacific

"We used to rely on our own brain and ‘two legs and one mouth’ to do agricultural extension work. Now the NAECP enables us to get solutions for all kinds of agricultural problems just by tapping on the keyboard."

Gu Shengxing, grass root extension workers, Xinghua Jiangsu Province

BACKGROUND

Although China has a large agricultural extension team, its public service capacity is still weak, particularly at the grass-roots level. First, Due to a lack of funds, many regional extension stations tend to be simple and crude, which limits their extension services. The tools for communication, learning and transportation are relatively basic. Second, it has been difficult for local government to accurately evaluate the performance of agriculture extension workers, which affects the workers’ enthusiasm. In addition, there are few opportunities for grass-roots staff to update their knowledge and skills.

WHAT’S INVOLVED

An agricultural extension cloud computing platform

Cloud computing provides the basic facilities for application deployment and data storage. Resources allocated to agricultural extension services can be increased or decreased in real time and on demand, and the cloud storage environment can provide more than 100 terabytes of storage.
 

Multiple categories of applications

The first category focuses on information exchange, knowledge-sharing, self-learning and self-improvement for grass-roots extension workers. The second category concerns the management and performance appraisal of agricultural technicians based on WEBGIS technologies. The third category covers the collection of information about topics such as crops, pests, animal diseases and the market for agriculture products and materials..
 

Multiple information collection channels and resources

The NAECP team collects agricultural information through different channels, for example universities, companies and extension workers.
 

Information technology training

To improve agricultural extension workers’ proficiency in the latest information technology, NAECP offers training on-site, online and through video. And an exchange platform was also built for extension workers to ask questions.

EXPLORE THIS SOLUTION

The NAECP system can contribute to:

  • Significantly improved efficiency of agricultural extension and management
  • Enhanced capacity for the agricultural extension team
  • Expanded functions of agricultural extensions

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Countries involved

China

Project partners

Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Tongfang Knowledge Network Digtal Publishing Technology Co., Ltd.

Project dates

2005 - Present

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Summary

The National Agriculture Extension Cloud Platform (NAECP) is a centralized platform based on cloud technology that enables grass-roots agricultural extension workers in rural China to acquire timely information and knowledge. Its functions include information exchange, expert consultations, remote diagnosis, agriculture product marketing and online trainings. By issuing smartphones to agricultural extension workers, NAECP enables unlimited access to the platform and facilitates local government’s management of the grass-roots agricultural extension team.

 

Challenge/Problem

China has a large agricultural extension team with millions of workers in different fields. Although much has been accomplished in developing this extension system over the past 50 years, its public service capacity is still weak, particularly at the grass-roots level.

Firstly, the traditional extension method (known as “One Mouth and Two Legs”) needs to be innovated and upgraded. Due to a lack of funds, many regional extension stations tend to be simple and crude, which limits their extension services. The tools for communication, learning and transportation are relatively basic.

Secondly, the management and assessment of agricultural extension workers needs to be improved. Traditionally, it has been difficult for local government to accurately evaluate the performance of agriculture extension workers, which affects the workers’ enthusiasm.

Thirdly, there are few opportunities for grass-roots staff to update their knowledge and skills. Some agricultural extension workers fail to effectively provide the latest technology to farmers due to their own lack of training opportunities.

 

Solution

NAECP benefits from the emergence and development of new information and communications technologies (ICTs). The adoption of cloud technology for data processing and storage enables NAECP to provide a massive amount of agriculture resources like digital books, documents and slides. As many agricultural extension workers are nowadays armed with portable smart devices, NAECP has also developed smartphone apps.

  1. Construction of an agricultural extension cloud computing platform

Cloud computing provides the basic facilities for application deployment and data storage. Resources allocated to agricultural extension services can be increased or decreased in real time and on demand, and the cloud storage environment can provide more than 100 terabytes of storage.

  1. Development of agricultural extension service based on browser and Android

Agricultural extension services meet the demands of grass-roots extension workers by providing information services through text, voice and video. There are three major categories of applications. The first category focuses on information exchange, knowledge-sharing, self-learning and self-improvement for grass-roots extension workers. The second category concerns the management and performance appraisal of agricultural technicians based on WEBGIS technologies. The third category covers the collection of information about topics such as crops, pests, animal diseases and the market for agriculture products and materials.

  1. Collection of information resources related to agricultural technology

The NAECP team collects agricultural information through different channels to share with agricultural extension workers nationwide. First, the NAECP team cooperates with universities and companies to collect resources. It also engages agricultural extension workers to create information resources by encouraging them to freely upload first-hand experience and knowledge to the platform.

  1. Selection of smart mobile devices

The NAECP team helps select smart mobile devices for agricultural extension workers, taking into account the devices’ prices and durability (such as how waterproof, dustproof, drop-proof and shockproof they are). Corresponding applications are also downloaded to the devices in advance.

  1. Information technology training for extension workers

Proficiency in the latest information technology is key to transferring technology to smallholder farmers. NAECP offers training on-site, online and through video. An exchange platform was also built for extension workers to ask questions.

 

Results

The following benefits of the NAECP platform are very popular with agriculture extension workers:

  1. Significantly improved efficiency of agricultural extension and management

Using information technology platforms and mobile terminals, agricultural extension staff may deliver vast, professional and individualized agricultural information to farmers. Managers can accurately manage and scientifically evaluate the work of staff members through daily service records positioned by GPS and logs written by staff members. This method greatly improves the overall efficiency and level of agricultural extension services.

  1. Enhanced capacity for the agricultural extension team

By making full use of the rich multimedia teaching materials, including online classrooms and videos, agricultural extension staff can not only self-study the latest agricultural knowledge and skills but also use video to communicate with experts or other staff members face-to-face. Thus staff members’ capacities and qualities are significantly enhanced.

  1. Expanded functions of agricultural extensions

The information platform provides an efficient means of information collection. When different staff members upload their own observations, managers can quickly obtain information about meteorological disasters, pests, diseases, animal epidemics and markets. Moreover, the information platform helps link agricultural research and agricultural extension.

 

Lessons Learned/Potential for replication

This software-based platform could easily be replicated in countries with similar agriculture extension systems. The following lessons have been learned:

  • Promoting this platform requires strong support from the government.
  • Private companies should be involved in promoting the system.
  • The platform should integrate mainstream agriculture technology.
  • Good Internet connections are helpful for promoting the platform.

 

Next Steps

In line with the ongoing development of the agricultural extension system, the platform is targeting other groups of people, like farmers, agriculture enterprises and low-income families.

As ICTs continue to develop, the NAECP team may consider incorporating live telecasts, pest and disease identification services, topic recommendations and other personalized information into the platform.

Solution Image

Information exchange using a smartphone

Image Author:Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Online training in the field

Image Author:Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Remote diagnosis from experts in Beijing

Image Author:Agricultural Information Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences

Last update: 16/10/2020