This week I read in the GFAR e-news about a new initiative by Ashoka. It is a program built on the idea of social innovation where everyone has the opportunity to influence change by sharing their ideas with the world through Ashoka’s use of “collaborative competitions”.

Submissions for ideas are accepted until May 13th. Read more at Changemakers-cultivating innovations

Few would deny that in the 21st Century, biotechnology and materials science have replaced plant breeding and soil science as the frontier areas of agricultural research. What is not really clear is how the application of computers and new ICTs are becoming centre stage in transforming agricultural science, research and technology generation.

High capacity computing power and use of ICTs in bioinformatics and managing massive databases have already demonstrated their effectiveness in generating new, more relevant and useful crop varieties in very short periods of time and at less cost. This will be critical in meeting the challenges of climate change. Modelling and simulation of crop performances, economic impacts and effects of weather and climate, use of geographical information systems and knowledge based systems are making vast contributions to making agriculture at various levels precise, predictable and proficient and more risk-averse. Embedded sensors, networks and ICTs are making farming less arduous and economical.

During the Science Forum 2009, a workshop will be organized to provide a venue to discuss how to exploit the potential of computing and ICTs in agricultural science, research and technology generation especially in the context of technologically less developed countries and for the benefit of millions of resource poor farmers and producers. The workshop will seek to identify the global priorities in research in use of ICT in agricultural science and technology generation and needs for technologically less developed countries to make full use of ICTs in harnessing agriculture science for their development and progress.

A call for proposal for posters to be presented during the Science Forum has been launched. The posters aim to present how Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) are enabling agricultural science to be a social endeavor by communities rather something done in laboratories by professional scientists.