Tuesday, May 29, 2007

ICT & agriculture publication

ICT Update has special issues and relevant information on agriculture, technology, climate change, etc.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A billion trees

Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai joins a campaign to plant trees to offset climate change - which especially affects African countries like her native Kenya. "In Kenya for example, if the Government directs every farmer to plant 25 trees in every acre of land, our forest cover would increase from the current 1.7 per cent to 10 per cent which is the globally accepted minimum." Full story here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Kiva - one on one loans

A kind of peer-to-peer method of microloans. See specifically this farmer in Kiambu (north of Nairobi).

Eduvision at e-Learning Africa

Presentation Wednesday, May 30, 9.00 – 10.45 by Eduvision at e-learning Africa.

Eduvision is now run as a commercial company (see Bridgeworks) whose aim is to assist developing countries improve their education systems by providing appropriate information technology tools for the classroom. See previous posts on Eduvision.

Pilot project using digital satellite radio to distribute content to e-Slates was funded by BioVision who are also involved in farmer information infonet-biovision project.

Intel Classmate PC & Content for South Africa

The Classmate PC, Intel's "competitor" for the OLPC laptop.

Intel's 'skoool', multimedia content for Mathematics and Science learning in SA.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Growing Maize is Not What It Used to Be

This article discusses the economic aspects of growing maize.

Most Kenyan farmers still have faith in maize - so much so that 90 percent of them regularly invest in this crop. About 75 percent of Kenya's farmers are small-scale producers, and more than 70 percent of farmers are women

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been controversial in the Kenyan maize sector.

3G coming to Kenya

See this article for the latest on the telecom's plans for fibre optic lines and 3G connectivity.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Biofuels: Think Outside The Barrel

Google TechTalks March 29, 2006 - Vinod Khosla, visited Google to deliver a tech talk about the emergence of ethanol as a viable, market ready, and competitive source of renewable energy.

Mobile in Africa: doing HCI Differently in the Developing World

Gary Marsden, Google Tech Talks May 4, 2007

"Using Case studies and examples, this talk looks at the challenges of applying standard HCI techniques in a developing world context. We look at how HCI can have a fantastic impact on communities in the developing world, but there is still some way to go in understanding how HCI can best benefit the developing world."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sensor network companies

Arch Rock
Dust Networks
Millenial Net
Ranch Systems - agricultural monitoring (primarily to vinyards). Monitor wind, water, soil temp to manage frost, disease, pests
Riga Development

Source: Economist special report on wireless telecoms: A world of connections, 28 Apr 07.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Participatory Methods in Development

Just some links to literature about participatory development projects and other relevant areas:

International Institute for Environment and Development - Journals about participation, The Gatekeeper - "highlight key topics in the field of sustainable agriculture and resource management" - e.g. Demystifying Facilitation in Participatory Development

Research Information Ltd - Appropriate Technology, International Pest Control, Outlooks on Pest Management, Participatory Learning and Action journals.

Village Information Centres, Pondicherry (India) beep report
Measures of Impact of Science and Technology in India: Agriculture and Rural Development from M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF)

Monday, May 14, 2007


Really interesting Finnish and South African project in Mobile Education.
Amongst other things it involves a mobile ed resource kit for schools, multimedia messaging and wikis for an audio encyclopedia delivered to mobile phones, etc...

Go on read more at MobilED

Sunday, May 13, 2007

VeSeL partners on Google Maps

Location of VeSeL partners on Google Maps.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Arduino is an inexpensive and open source hardware prototyping environment. It can take input from any number of sensors, and output to devices, actuators, computers, etc.

A new Bluetooth module is just out - this is Class 1 Bluetooth, with range of about 100 meters (versus 10m for normal Bluetooth). Up to 7 devices can connect via Bluetooth; this can be extended with one of several hacks such as a 'scatternet' in which one device bridges two networks; or by automatically connecting and disconnecting.

Telit makes a GSM modem module which provides onboard mobile telephony. With an audio chip it could make phone calls; it has a microphone input. So effectively you could build your own mobile phone if you want to. It can also do SMS, email and FTP, has an embedded TCP/IP stack, and Python interpreter.

Arduino is also working on an embedded web server on the board, so you can check and set inputs and outputs to a remote module from a web page.

A ZigBee module is also under development.

Pure Data is a free and open source visual programming environment (like Max/MSP) for which a graphical Arduino programmer has been written.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kenyan farming - historical perspective

This article by agriculture expert Eusebius J Mukhwana contains a good summary of the current problems, challenges and opportunities for Kenyan farmers, with historical perspective.

New projects halted in Kenya secondary schools

In preparation for abolishing fees, beginning Jan. 2008. This initiative by Kenya's president has been backed financially by the IMF. Read more here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


EurepGap regulates agriculture grown in developing countries for the EU.

Radio scripts

Developing Countries Farm Radio Network includes scripts and other resources for rural radio. We have proposed having students/communities create these, and podcast them or broadcast using a low-power FM transmitter.

Solar power links

Free DIY small solar panel & light

Boiling Point household energy journal contains numerous articles on solar (and other low cost power), and on Kenya

Nairobi solar startups:
Kibera Community Youth Project

Other end of the spectrum:
PowerFilm - rollable and foldable (and pricey) PV panels
Laptop chargers

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Asterisk VOIP gateway

Asterisk is an open source telephony system. It can be installed on any server, take incoming calls and do various things with them, such as route them internationally via VOIP, record audio, perform messaging functions, and interface with web servers.

Here is an asterisk to skype gateway. This means that phone calls made to the asterisk server can be routed internationally via skype. Conversely, contact with the server via skype could be routed to local phones.

Here is a method of podcasting vis Asterisk. Audio podcasts can be recorded by making a phone call, or by uploading files. They can be listened to by making a phone call, or by accessing audio files on the server.