ICAAP is developing a knowledge centre with the help of some key stakeholders. This knowledge centre is a database of agronomic content that offers farmers information and access to content and mechanisms that farmers are using and that have been successful. This knowledge differs from the portal as it will focus more on creating a network and connecting farmers with each other and with key stakeholders. This knowledge centre will support the technological shift that India is seeing as it connects farmers to initiatives such as the ITC e-Choupal Initiative. These initiatives have a nationwide impact and have a trickle down effect that is cost, resource and time effective and accelerate the development of agricultural success.
The e-Choupal is an example of an initiative that is effective, and that offers ample learning opportunities for small hold farmers. It involves the selection of lead farmers who are extensively trained on the system and then provided the necessary resources (i.e. a computer and internet access) to enable them to apply their training and knowledge. The trained farmers then transfer and share their knowledge with neighbours and other farmers. The trained farmers with computers and Internet access teach and share their resources. Information such as local and global prices, crop management techniques, market information and weather forecasts can be obtained and information becomes easily accessible. This information is then further disseminated through meetings at the computer stations or meeting places and decision making is facilitated. The system has further developed to allow and facilitate the purchase and selling of farm equipment and access to services as well.
This initiative started with only 6 computer stations in 2000, and has since grown to link 40 000 villages with 6500 computer centres. The four million farmers using the initiative have made this the largest online agricultural initiative. This initiative parallels and inspires the Knowledge Centre’s mission to connect and create relationships in the farming community and the importance of building a strong and successful network.