Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

In Indonesia, extension services are acknowledged as an important component of achieving food security. National legislation (UU No. 16, 2006) stipulates three types of extension workers: public, private, and self-help/voluntary. However, most extension services are conducted by public workers, as they are the only actors with a clear mandate to do so. Private workers are usually employed by input suppliers and, despite the 2006 regulation, they are not registered with, nor regulated by, the government. The last category – voluntary or self-help workers – are lead farmers, whom the government trains and provides with a certificate of competency.

According to data from 2015, there are 32,299 public extension workers for 71,470 farming villages throughout Indonesia. Government legislation (UU No. 19, 2013) states that the ideal is to have one worker for every farming village, which means there is a gap of about 39,190 workers. As a solution to close the gap, the Government plans to recruit and train voluntary extension workers.

The sector’s scope has been expanded to include Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as it is a key driver to solve information shortages at the farmer level. ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, mobile phones, computers, and so on.

PRISMA has identified opportunities for utilizing ICT in Indonesia. The majority of farmers (80%) watch TV regularly and use mobile phones (75%). Smartphone ownership and internet usage are still low however, at 15% and 5% respectively. Nevertheless, the low internet penetration rate does not seem to be a barrier to the local start-up industry. No less than 20 agriculture start-ups were set up in recent years and the majority of them have received funding.

Interest in leveraging ICT potential is also demonstrated by the industry players with various input producers releasing or working on smartphone applications. The majority of these applications are for internal use or limited to their distributors and partners. However, a few companies have also envisioned a wider use of such applications to include farmers, government extension workers, and other non-competing input producers.

It is recognized that there is limited capacity of public extension workers and similarly, limited extension services through input kiosks. Farmers have insufficient knowledge on the latest farming practices and techniques. PRISMA will collaborate with private sector partners to increase the capacity of extension workers through smartphone applications and develop a business model for agricultural start-ups. PRISMA will then assist the private sector to support partnerships between agricultural start-up companies and agriculture input producers in the form of a ‘value chain platform’. The goal is to include as many input producers and off-takers in the system so the current inefficiencies in the value chain can be reduced.