ICT in Modernizing Agricultural Extension Services in Bangladesh
The main public agricultural (crop sub-sector) extension service provider in Bangladesh is the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) under the Ministry of Agriculture. It has grassroots level extension service provider (Sub-assistant Agriculture Officer, SAAO) per 1,000 farm families under each union. Most of the agents depend on traditional means of communication to send across time bound agricultural information and research findings to farmers. This is no longer effective in the present dispensation if the farmers must achieve sustainable food production and nutritional sufficiency for the natio1n. This paper therefore, examined the usefulness of information and communication technology in the enhancement of agricultural extension services in Bangladesh. It equally looked at the rationale for the use of ICT in agricultural extension services. Some useful recommendations were made among which are use of smart phone for access to update information, ICT innovation development in the field of extension and adoption to the field, video conferencing for forecasting and quick technology dissemination, access to market information, GIS remote censoring for enhancement of cropping intensity and diversity, monitoring of the activities of the extension personnel, database management and enhancing easy access to database etc. The Ministry of Agriculture should invest in ICT development for crop extension services, in-service training of the extension agents in ICT and the farmers on usability of ICTs for information dissemination and retrieval.