Working for an AusAID private sector development program based in Suva for the past two years has given me the opportunity to travel around Fiji and see the challenges affecting its people and its economy. The work has been very engaging and taken up all of my time, a large factor in why I have neglected this site.
I’m coming back to this site after a long hiatus to share with you my insights from having taken a much closer look at the issues faced by agriculturalists and small businesspeople around the islands. I will also be chronicling a few special projects over the next few months. The emphasis remains the same as before, trying to show that first-rate innovation is possible in the Islands
I remained as convinced as ever that technology has a role to play in helping lift people out of poverty. Yet, I’m a bit more grounded about whether technology decision-makers will actually put in place the conditions for users to harness the real potential. A while back, I heard from a Vodafone Fiji staffer that some 75% (or greater) of download volume consists of music and videos. So, technology is making inroads into our lives, but users seem to gravitate toward entertainment.
My thinking at work is increasingly dominated by the Development perspective–largely been framed by what can make economic growth possible. Still, I believe in societies where jobs are difficult to find and are low-paying, technology can play a role in unleashing stifled entrepreneurial spirit and providing livelihoods.
Farm-e, my agricultural marketplace collaboration, was a result of this vision. Having visited the agricultural and rural areas of Fiji, I’ve been able to think about how ICT can support those in agriculture. Farm-e remains shelved for the moment.
My focus for now is on remote weather sensor networks and their capacity to inform better decision-making for growers. This came out of conversations with growers about changing weather patterns and the impact of natural disasters.
Over the course of the next few months, I will be chronicling my efforts at improving access to weather data for everyone in Fiji.