SOCIO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF FARMERS THROUGH ICT-BASED EDUCATION AND RURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT: CASE STUDY IN SRI LANKA
1 University of Colombo Institute for Agro-technology and Rural Sciences (SRI LANKA)
2 University of Colombo (SRI LANKA)
3 Ginju National University (KOREA, REPUBLIC OF)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:By employing modern agriculture and information and communication technologies, many of world farmers are becoming now successful entrepreneurs to create wealth and job opportunities elsewhere. Business environment nowadays changes rapidly. Agriculture and rural sector is not an exception. For the entrepreneur farmers, the change in business environment is rather an opportunity to create wealth. Many Sri Lankan young farmers can be rich by employing rural entrepreneur skills. University of Colombo Institute for Agrotechnology and Rural Sciences (UCIARS) has designed and implemented the island-wide ICT based agro-technology diploma courses leading to a degree in order to expand the power of technology to more people and areas in rural Sri Lanka. In general, farm productivity of the 350 student farmers has been remarkably improved due to this innovative way of e-learning.
Although many of the student farmers already started their own agro industry and enterprises, there is a lack of funding for improving their agri-businesses to achieve their targets. Therefore the institute actively engaged in this case to assist them financially and giving them relevant guidance, information, technology and knowledge. UCIARS offered its financial assistance to selected talented student farmers to commence new agribusinesses or upgrade their existing agri- businesses in loan basis with very low interest rate after receiving the project proposals from interested students. The beneficiaries were evaluated based on their fieldwork performances, marketing performances and record keeping activities based on the information obtain through field visits. Further, they were evaluated based on the performances shown in frequent interactions with Institute and timely payment of installments. Socioeconomic impact of the selected student farmers were evaluated under the criteria of improvements of productivity, income, knowledge, skill, communication ability and social contacts. It has shown that all above criteria were significantly improved due to ICT based education and rural entrepreneurship development.
Keywords: ICT-based education, Rural entrepreneurship, Farmers, Socio-economic development.