Philippines to use Internet to improve farmers skills

May. 24, 2007

The Department of Agriculture plans to put up electronic kiosks around the country to help farmers widen their market access using the Internet, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said.

The department is preparing proposals on the e-portal system for submission to software developer Microsoft Corp., Yap said.

Under its program, computer centers will be set up around the country for farmers to check market prices of their commodities and seek business partnerships using the Internet.

These kiosks should be services driven so that farmers would use them, Yap said. If a farmer asks, can we get help? Can we talk and reach out to other farmers? Can we reach new markets through this? The answers must be yes.

Last month, the Department of Agriculture, Microsoft and the Department of Science and Technology met to explore possible collaborations, in the hope of replicating the success of Chinas Information and Communications Technology partnership with Microsoft.

According to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Yap presented the agriculture departments ICT projects, which include Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture, Mobile Internet Bus, which is used to deliver online services, and Farmers Information and Technology Services Centers.

Microsoft can greatly help efforts to modernize Philippine agriculture by providing computers, licensed Microsoft software and training for computer programmers, Yap said.

According to PhilRice, the Microsoft group has set another meeting this month for a more detailed discussion on e-learning and web-based IT.

Microsoft is also set to discuss how it can partner with Opapa and other ICT projects for Philippine agriculture.

Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA) is a network of government institutions providing education, training, extension, and communication in agriculture using information and communication technologies. It is spearheaded and coordinated by PhilRice, with its executive director Leocadio Sebastian leading the OPAPA Advisory Council.

Market access is one of the agriculture departments critical projects in a five-point program, Yap said.

He said the Department of Agriculture was intensifying efforts to find new domestic and overseas markets for Philippine export winners, which include mangoes, bananas, pineapples and other tropical fruits, along with potential winners like poultry and meat products, which are free of the bird flu and foot and mouth disease. (PIA Dispatch)

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