Agriculture is of pre-eminent importance in the Asia Pacific region but is under threat from a number of sources. These include increased demand for food and fibre, complex new domestic and international economic and political forces and changing marketing regulations and requirements. Underlying all these is the rapidly deteriorating natural resource base upon which future productivity and farmer livelihoods depend. Knowledge and information are key requirements to enable farmers to deal with these challenges, particularly as new agricultural technologies are becoming more "Knowledge intensive" Reaching farmers with these prerequisites has been problematic in the past but new information and communication technologies - primarily the Internet-are showing considerable promise. While this approach for directly reaching farmers in developing countries is still in its infancy, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are proving that they can reach "nowledge intermediaries" whose role is to bridge the local and global agricultural knowledge systems. While there are several initiatives at the global, regional, national and the local levels all across the globe, these are proving to be much less than what is required to make a real difference and capitalize on the potential. The donor community can do much to facilitate progress but must consider some fundamental changes in its priorities and how it operates. It must rethink its current faith in the private sector, target institutional support more rationally, develop and follow a clearer strategy and provide more substantial and sustained support for Internet-based initiatives that take advantage of the real potential of this approach.
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