How does one place a value on communication? It is probably the most important aspect of life. To teach and to learn. To tell another how you feel. With these we make a living and a life.

Information and communication technology (ICT) is transforming inter-actions between people and economies worldwide. In an ever increasing global economy, ICT enables us to access and to store information, as well as to communicate instantly. Media – be it radio, magazines, television – forms part of ICT.

ICT has been identified as one of the country’s five “sunrise” industries (AMT, 2015), with every cent invested here likely to pay off with growth and jobs. Back in 2014 it was also identified as a game changer for African agriculture (Kofi Annan, 2014). We have several stories on file about how immediate access to ICT enables farmers with marketing decisions (including talking to customers) as well as the day-to-day operations on the farm e.g. a technical query when a tractor breaks down.

This chapter is a modest attempt to look at the agricultural media and ICT available in this country (and beyond).

Nancy Richards (SAfm) interviews Inge Kotze, senior manager of WWF SA’s Sustainable Agriculture.

 

Living Land crew in action. Photos used courtesy of Helen Gordon, WWF SA

Cell phones

In low-income areas and countries across sub-Saharan Africa, cell phones often are the first development in telecommunications infrastructure. More people have access to cell phones than to electricity, piped water and health clinics (Afrobarometer, 2014).

In addition to the advantages of mobility and instant access to market information (e.g. SAFEX prices) and mobile money transfers, technology allows you to open/close gates from your cell phone, to begin/end irrigation and more. There are also the security advantages: you can reach loved ones and trace their whereabouts through the location of their phone.

More people access the Internet now through cell phones, and valuable information is stored on their phones. Accordingly, an app exists from AVG which allows you to lock your phone and even wipe out data in the case of its going missing.

  • Read about the GSM Commander software at www.gsmcommander.com or give them a call at 021 981 7062.
  • Find out about cell phone based security systems at www.secucell.co.za.
  • Monitor your vehicles (and the fuel in them!) – www.digicell.co.za.
  • Find out about the SmartFarm cellphone provided by NOSA Agri, to empower small scale and emerging farmers.

In his predictions of the future, Dr Robert Goldman says of any business idea you get – if it doesn’t work with a phone, forget it! (Goldman, 2016)

Books and Journals

Find the “Websites and publications” heading in the different chapters of this publication. Many books and journals are listed there in their relevant sectors.

Books

Strategic approach to Farming Success by Dr Wimpie Nell and Mr Rob Napier. This book is designed to assist the farmer/management team in thinking strategically and imaginatively about the future of the farming business. Write to wimnell [at] farmingsuccess.com or call 082 882 9777. Read about the book at www.farmingsuccess.co.za.

Finance and Farmers, now in its fifth edition, goes a long way in helping you to manage your risks more effectively. To order a copy, phone 011 636 6162.

Kejafa Knowledge Works is a publisher and distributor of agricultural books. Visit www.kejafa.com. Numerous other role players like Agriconnect and Media 24 (Landbouweekblad) stock some publications as well.

Provincial Departments of Agriculture also stock publications and reports. Take a look at the “Agric publications” option at www.kzndard.gov.za for example. Contact details for the provinces can be found in the “Agriculture in the Provinces” chapter.

Journals

Find the South African Journal of Agricultural Extension, published annually by the South African Society for Agricultural Extension (SASAE), at www.ajol.info (African Journals Online). Find other journals of interest here e.g. African Crop Science Journal, African Journal of Food and Nutritional Security, and African Journal of Range and Forage Science.

Find the journals at www.tandfonline.com, Taylor & Francis online.

Apps

A shortened form of “application software”, an app is a computer programme designed to run on cell phones and tablets. In the beginning, an app offered basic services on your phone: access to emails, stock market, the weather, calendar included. Quickly, other information was added – an alternative way to receive media content, for example, and there are now billions of apps available including several thousand agriculture-related ones.

Apps can work with other technology, like probes inserted into the soil to let you know what the groundwater level is. Apps can identify major pests and diseases in crops, help plan fertiliser applications and meet soil nutrient needs, give you access to operator manuals and materials from training courses etc. Crop outlook and weather/climate apps can assist government departments and insurance companies to anticipate unfavourable conditions. They can also determine problem areas, scale of damage and appropriate disaster management interventions.

Popular apps include My New Holland, Cropalyser, Just In Time Nutrient Calculator, PANNAR Sprout and AgDNA. The ‘AgriCloud’ App, a mobile phone planting application, is an output of Rain for Africa (R4A) (see “Weather & climate” chapter). It is aimed at addressing gaps in information available to small scale farmers. Read the Parliamentary Monitoring Group account of its presentation at https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/26991/.

DVDs

  • African Land-Use Training supply DVDs to assist you. These include Successful meat goat production, Successful chicken production, Successful pig production and Successful hydroponic production. Email info [at] alut.co.za.
  • Dicla Training Centre supplies agricultural DVDs. See www.diclatraining.com.
  • Kejafa Knowledge Works is a distributor of agricultural DVDs (and books). Visit www.kejafa.com.

Training DVDs for deciduous fruit farmers by SA Orchard can be accessed at www.saorchard.co.za.

The Internet

See also the “Social media” heading later in this chapter.

Using the internet brings a world of information to the farmer. Increasingly, the Internet plays a role in how you shop and market what you have to sell. It connects you to people and what happens in the world. Some 54% of South Africans now use the Internet (We Are Social, 2018). Many websites are provided in this handbook.

Important websites for farmers include those of bodies that represent them (organised agriculture and industry associations), media, weather and markets. Examples include:

Find Internet World Stats: Usage and Population Statistics at www.internetworldstats.com.

Leaflets and booklets (for newcomers)

Libraries and Agricultural Museums

Institutions of learning offering agricultural degrees/diplomas have libraries, as do the different Agricultural Research Council Institutes. Departments of Agriculture – be they provincial or national – have libraries. The contact number for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries library is 012 319 6896.

The contact details for the National Library of South Africa is can be found at www.nlsa.ac.za.

A further source of agricultural information are museums. We have listed three of them here:

There are also agricultural museums in Bloemfontein and Lichtenburg.

Magazines

Weekly – General

Monthly – General

Commodity

Several commodity-specific magazines are published on a regular basis. Some examples are SA Graan/Grain, Pluimvee/Poultry Bulletin, Dairy Mail, PORCUS, AFMA Matrix, Winelands, South African Sugar Journal, SA Studbreeder/Stoetteler, Veeplaas etc. These are mentioned in the relevant chapters of this handbook.

Government and Agricultural Unions

  • DAFFnews – the official newsletter of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
  • Provincial Departments of Agriculture put out their own publication e.g. AgriProbe in the Western Cape. Contact Magrieta de Lange for information at 021 808 7613 or find the “AgriProbe” option at www.elsenburg.com).
  • Agri SA and the TAU SA also have regular newsletters. Find these on their websites, www.agrisa.co.za and www.tlu.co.za.

Banks and Agribusiness

  • Banks involved in agricultural finance (see “Providers of financial services” chapter) put out publications covering agricultural topics. Find information and previous copies on the bank websites.
  • The Agribusinesses also have their own publications e.g. Afgriland and Ons Eie.

Development-sector specific

  • Pula Imvula www.grainsa.co.za (available in English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Tswana, Zulu and Xhosa)

Radio

Read about Farm Radio International under heading 16.

  • Radio Sonder Grense (RSG) informs listeners to agricultural developments in Afrikaans. Visit www.rsg.co.za/Program-Potgooi/321/RSG-Landbou and www.agriorbit.com/category/broadcast/rsg-landbou for more information.
  • The Afrikaans “Die Kwik Styg” on Fridays at 12:45 on RSG has an emphasis on climate change and agriculture.
  • Radio Elsenburg on RSG (Radio Sonder Grense) broadcasts nationwide: 100 – 104FM. Listen on Fridays at 04h30 and 12h30; and Saturdays at 11h45. Find the “Rado Elsenburg” option at www.elsenburg.com.
  • Listen to Radio Pretoria on weekdays at 5h35 for agricultural news. For enquiries, visit www.pretoriafm.co.za.
  • Grain SA runs agricultural programmes for emerging farmers. Call 086 004 7246 or take the “Farmer Development” option at www.grainsa.co.za for more information.
  • Find Landbou Radio at www.amaplasi.co.za
  • The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development broadcasts technical agricultural information on eleven radio stations, reaching some seven to eight million listeners every week. The schedule of technical broadcasts is listed below. For further information contact Vuyani Dlamini at vuyani.dlamini [at] kzndard.gov.za.
NAMEFREQUENCYDAYTIME
Ukhozi FM90.1Monday04:30 – 05:00
Radio Khwezi90.5Wednesday19:00 – 20h00
Durban Youth Radio105.1Tuesday19:00 – 20:00
Highway Radio101.5Tuesday20:00 – 20:30
IcoraFM100.4Wednesday19:00 – 20:00
Imbokodo FM96.8Friday05:00 – 06:00
Maputaland Community107.6Thursday19:00 – 20:00
Newcastle Community103.7Thursday20:00 – 21:00
Goodnews Radio93.6Tuesday14:30 – 15:00, 19:00 – 20:00
Radio Sunny South97.0Thursday5:00 – 6:00
Zululand FM97.0Friday6:00 – 7:00
Siyathuthuka FM97.6Tuesday14:00 – 15:00
uMgungundlovu FM107.6Thursday05:00 – 06:00

 

For information about province-specific agricultural radio shows, contact your provincial Department of Agriculture.

Satellites

See the “Precision farming” chapter.

  • The use of satellites has changed the world and how information is passed on. Apart from the bird’s-eye advantage, there is no need to roll out infrastructure in rural (and urban) areas which requires maintenance and which can go missing. The always-on status offers confidence.
  • Land is mapped digitally without the services of cartographer required. Geographic information systems (GIS – see the “Precision farming” chapter) help in the choice of what to plant. It is possible to measure and monitor crops and pasture, weather conditions, evaporation, soil conditions, fertiliser requirements, water use, the early detection of pests and diseases, movement of livestock and vehicles etc. It is what makes smart irrigation and precision farming possible.
  • Increasingly, satellite information is combined with data obtained from drones/UAVs to sharpen the accuracy and usefulness of the information.

Social media

  • The active involvement of farmers on social media platforms is a positive measure to create understanding and appreciation in the population towards farmers. Tweeting photos of triumphs and challenges enables society to understand and share in what farmers face.

Social media is also a source of knowledge. Farmers post information on what has worked for them.

Software

Google “World Congress on Computers in Agriculture” for information on the latest congress.

Record keeping remains a fundamental practice for the successful farmer or business. Various software is available for the farmer, ranging from financial programmes to administration and management programmes. These cover the different types of livestock, crops and functions on the farm. The latter includes irrigation scheduling, fertilisation, tank control within a cellar (wine), packhouse control, payroll software. Programmes can monitor weather elements, soil moisture, pests and diseases, vehicles and fuel consumption etc.

The advantages of software include:

  • less time spent on administration
  • quick and easy query resolutions, and thus better decision-making
  • analysis and summaries of costs and production and what still needs to be done better yields and quality

In addition to being an enhanced information and decision making tool for the farm, it also becomes an invaluable way of bridging the space between producer and market. Traceability – the requirement of being able to track the field or animal from where a product came – makes software crucial.

Many on-farm software programmes applicable to animal breeding are available for producers, combining the functionality of herd management with on-farm recording. Find details of livestock computer programme (Software) providers in the “Animal Improvement and breeders” chapter. Several companies offering inputs also supply accompanying software.

Television

  • AgriTV is a TV programme focusing on rural development and issues related to or impacting on rural development in South Africa in the broadest sense. The program is aired every weekday morning on SABC2 between 5:30 and 6:00. For more information 011 791 5658.
  • Living Land is aimed “at developing the emerging farmer by addressing questions on land reform and farming”. It screens every Saturday morning at 5h30 on SABC 2. To make contact, email livingland [at] no-line.co.za. See www.sabceducation.co.za/livingland/.
  • Landbousake is an Afrikaans language programme focussing on commercial agriculture. The programme is screened on the Afrikaans pay TV channel kykNET. Read more at www.ontbytsake.co.za/Pages/Rubrieke/Landbousake and www.agriorbit.com/ontbytsake-landbounuus.
  • Landbouweekliks is on DSTV channel 147 on Tuesdays at 19h30 (starts 9 January 2018).
  • Watch Plaaspraatjies on Mytv. Read more at www.mytv.co.za.
  • The annual Nation in Conversation agri-talkshow during Nampo (see “Agricultural shows and events” chapter), www.nasieingesprek.co.za.

Watches

Some watches can serve as a companion for cell phone and tablets, incorporating many of the cellphone functions e.g. receiving and making calls, accessing internet, video camera, voice recorder etc.

Some international role players

Find reports on the international market for ICT on the websites of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the World Bank. See www.itu.int and www.worldbank.org respectively.

  • Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) is “designed to enhance the scholarship of the many thousands of students, faculty and researchers in agriculture and life sciences in the developing world” – www.fao.org/agora/en/.
  • AgNews, a look at USA and international developments, www.agweb.com
  • AGRICOLA (Agriculture Online Access), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Library: visit http://agricola.nal.usda.gov.
  • The AgriCultures Network shares knowledge and provides information on small-scale, sustainable agriculture worldwide. Visit www.agriculturesnetwork.org. The ILEIA (Centre for Information on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture) office in The Netherlands functions as the secretariat.
  • The UN’s Food and Agriculture (FAO) has an international information system, listing world literature dealing with all aspects of agriculture. It is called AGRIS and can be accessed at http://agris.fao.org. A related programme is Agricultural Information Management Standards (AIMS) which can be accessed from the AGRIS web pages.
  • e-Agriculture, “a global community facilitating dialogue and sharing resources on the use of ICTs for sustainable agriculture and rural development”, www.e-agriculture.org
  • European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environmentwww.efita.net
  • Farm Radio International “supports broadcasters in developing countries to strengthen small-scale farming and rural communities”. For more information, visit www.farmradio.org.
  • Although the IICD ceased operations at the end of 2015, you can visit the website www.iicd.org and browse the archives and collection. The “ICT4D” option in particular is relevant to this chapter.
  • International Federation of Agricultural Journalists www.ifaj.org
  • The ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies. Visit www.itu.int/en.
  • New Agriculturistwww.new-ag.info – keeps online readers abreast of trends and innovation in agricultural development, particularly in Africa but also in Asia and Latin America.
  • Research ICT Africa Network conducts research on ICT policy and regulation. For more, visit www.researchictafrica.net.
  • Sentinel-2 for Agriculture (Sen2Agri) is a project with an 8 billion Euro investment of the European Union and the European Space Agency. The plan is for its satellite to monitor the main crops in South Africa. The project is  a  collaborative  effort  between  the  Agricultural  Research  Council  and  the  Belgian  university,  UC Louvain. Find out more from Agbiz Grain. Call 012 807 3002 and take a look at www.esa-sen2agri.org.
  • The Smart Africa initiative – http://smartafrica.org

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), together with its partners, has held international seminars on the role of the media and ICT in agricultural development in ACP countries (Central, East, Southern and West Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) before.

Find discussions, seminars and other information at www.cta.int.

  • United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) published a set of media development indicators that focused on the context of developing countries. Find these at www.unesco.org.
  • Vodafone and Accenture undertook a research programme intended to measure the impact of mobile communications on the lives and prosperity of farming communities in some of the world’s poorest countries. Find the “Connected Agriculture” report on www.vodafone.com.
  • World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC)www.amarc.org

National strategy and government contacts

Find the ICT Sector Codes (Sector 9 charter) at www.thedti.gov.za – take the “Economic empowerment” option. Read about the BBBEE ICT Sector Council at www.ictsectorcouncil.org.za.

Along with the shift in the world economy from West to East, increased connectivity between people (through cellphones and the Internet for example) is listed by the National Development Plan as one of the key drivers of change in the country.

Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) are part of the Infrastructure Plan developed by Government to support economic development and address service delivery in the poorest provinces. Each SIP comprises of specific infrastructure components and programmes. SIP 15 entails expanding access to communication technology.

 ‘Internet for All’ is an initiative by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and its social partners, and the World Economic Forum (WEF) to connect all South Africans to the internet by 2020.

Find the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper on the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services website www.dtps.gov.za.

Public Entities and Agencies:

  • South African Broadcasting Corporationwww.sabc.co.za
  • Sentech Ltd, “core provider of wireless broadband in South Africa” – www.sentech.co.za
  • South African Post Officewww.postoffice.co.za
  • National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA)http://nemisa.co.za
  • The main aim of the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) is to ensure that “every man, woman and child whether living in the remote areas of the Kalahari or in urban areas of Gauteng can be able to connect, speak, explore and study using ICTs”. Visit www.usaasa.org.za.
  • The .za Domain Name Authority is responsibility for the .za domain name – www.zadna.org.za
  • Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is “responsible for regulating the telecommunications and broadcasting industries in the public interest, to ensure affordable services of a high quality for all South Africans”. See www.icasa.org.za.

Other role players

  • Agricultural Writers SA is the professional association promoting the image and standards of agricultural journalism in South Africa. These journalists serve the industry through magazines, newspapers, radio and television. See www.agriculturalwriterssa.co.za.
  • AliSom Communications Tel: 012 072 0402 www.alisom.co.za cellular, data and internet services to farming communities
  • The Meraka Institute is an operating unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) focused on ICT. Contact details of the various staff members are available on the website www.csir.co.za/csir-meraka-institute.
  • Communication Workers Unionwww.cwu.org.za
  • Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) South Africa www.ieee.org.za
  • Information Technology Association of South Africawww.ita.org.za
  • Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa, www.iitpsa.org.za
  • Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) www.mdda.org.za
  • The relevant SETA for this chapter is MICT – Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority. Visit www.mict.org.za.
  • National Community Radio Forum represents over 100 community radio stations. Call 011 403 4336 or see http://ncrf.org.za. [Website not working, 7 May 2018]
  • REEDiSA (Rural economic and enterprise development in Southern Africa) offers ICT equipped, rural networks with a spectrum of information services to managers of Local Economic Development, Corporate Social Investment and small or micro business owners. See www.reedisa.com.
  • The South African Communications Forum (SACF) “brings together the Public Sector, Private sector and civil society organisations with the goal of building partnership in bridging the digital divide and creating an Information Society”. Visit www.sacomforum.org.za.
  • South African Communications Unionhttp://sacuho.wix.com/sacu-2
  • Suid-Afrikaanse Vereniging vir Landboutegnoloë – contact Resia Swart at Elsenburg, 021-808 5487.
  • Wireless Access Providers Association of South Africa (WAPA)www.wapa.org.za

Websites and publications

Refer to the websites listed earlier in this chapter.

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