Review of local knowledge and the use of digital tools
In collaboration between all partners of the project, the main achievement of Intellectual Output 1 was preparing, developing, conducting, evaluating and reporting the WiseFarmer survey for the up-to-date, qualitative and quantitative assessment of the target group regarding their actual ICT skills and usage, and farming practices.
In-depth interviews were implemented in every partner country prior the major data gathering process in October and November 2019 to gain an insight into and update our knowledge about the actual issues and capacities of farmers, for a better tailored questionnaire. This was followed by the survey itself between December 2019 and early January 2020, and was also conducted in each country, in the format of a complex questionnaire. An online form was made available on the website of the project, allowing direct inputs and entering paper-based answers.
Partner organisations in different countries used various approaches and methods to reach the target audience, in order to gather as much and as relevant information as possible. However, the same rule of thumb applied, so that every partner had to take into account the age groups, regional and agricultural specificities, sectors, production types, physical and economic size of the farms, to ensure similar sampling and comparability at project level
As a result of the survey, project partners collected altogether 265 responses from six countries, exceeding the numbers what was originally planned. The electronic system was operated and monitored by WeAreNet, data cleansing and first level processing were executed by AUA, then the report was brought together by BUAS, with the contribution of all other partner organisations.
Key findings of the survey for the next project steps:
• The main hypothetic pillar of the project regarding the profile of young and senior farmers was reinforced, however, we found that elder farmers may also lack agricultural expertise by a significant proportion.
• Some themes of the main farming issues don’t fully match the type of ICT tools used, which provides an opportunity for the project to introduce such solutions for the participants (and support the transfer of needed skills for them).
• Farmers are interested in new equipment and methods, as most of them participate at least annually at such events (exhibitions, fairs, demonstrations, etc) which promote innovations, therefore we anticipate good acceptance for the digital technologies as well.
• WiseFarmer learning materials should be optimized primarily for Mobile devices, which get widest use among farmers.
• Most of the farmers already possess basic skills in using the Internet, therefore the project shall go beyond that, and focus on the use of state-of-the-art communication and farming oriented digital tools.
• Differences between countries (both farming issues and ICT skills) means specific parts of the learning material are to be tailored for the national context.