Suzana Dimitrievska is an organic farmer in North Macedonia. Coming from a line of strong, well-educated women, she has always been comfortable embracing new technology. She is using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to increase the efficiency of her family farm.

Several years ago, she bought a farm management software that enabled her to better plan and monitor crops, minimize labour costs and spend less on gas and organic fertilizer, thereby raising her profits.

 

After bagging a contract with a Swiss company in 2017, Suzana thought she could do all the work with seasonal labour. However, as the demand grew, she realized the need for and benefit of an automated solution that could control several different processes at the same time.

 

Suzana, with support from a consultant and the Swiss company, was able to prepare a cost-benefit analysis of manual work versus using an automatic sorter. They identified an optical colour sorter machine that would be able to detect and sort over 123 different types of crops, herbs and agricultural products by their size, colour and form.

 

“With a loan from the bank, she invested in the optical photo selector. Even though the price tag was hefty at 75 000 Euros, I am now able to easily select and pack beans at the same time meeting the quality standards of my customers,” says Suzana.

 

Information and Communication Technologies, like the ones chosen by Suzana, are long seen as drivers of rural development and are accelerating progress towards gender equality. ICTs refer to a broad category of devices and services that help famers gather, store, analyse and share data. They are empowering rural people, and especially women, in a myriad of ways – from cell phones that enable access to mobile banking and satellites that provide updated weather reports to drones that allow for detailed aerial imagery. 

 

However, those who could benefit the most from ICTs are also the ones least able to access and afford them. Poor rural women, despite playing a fundamental role in agricultural production, tend to have less access to ICTs than their wealthier, urban or male counterparts. As a result, in many rural areas, the full potential of ICTs remains untapped.

 

Since adopting the  farm management software, Suzana has enjoyed greater decision-making ability and seen her investment pay off. She is able to run her farm more efficiently, using the software to keep records, track costs, manage seasonal workers and analyse the profitability of each of her crops.

 

In fact, after her first year using the software, Suzana learned that some of the crops she had cultivated for years were not economical – so she is now investigating more profitable options.

 

See more: http://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1184155/