PINOY  FARMER  NOW  PART  OF  THE  INTERNET  WORLD

MANILA,
JUNE 11, 2007
 (STAR) By Rudy A. Fernandez - Slowly but surely, the Filipino farmer is becoming an integral part of the Internet world.

Facilitating the land tiller’s introduction to the cyber world is a government program billed Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA), now popularly known as Pinoy Farmers’ Internet.

The Farmers’ Internet (www.openacademy.gov.ph) started with an “ambitious” aim to bridge the gap between research institutions and the farmers.

Through the Internet, farmers and extension workers learned for the first time how to navigate the “intimidating” but challenging, fast-paced cyber world.

Initially, the Farmers’ Internet project team led by program director Roger Barroga of the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) trekked to the most remote parts of the country to bring the portal to its users.

Consequently, local government units began procuring computers to sustain the effort.

Now, extension workers and farmers are surfing the portal for information on agriculture, particularly rice, said Ma. Adrielle Solsoloy of PhilRice.

Today, the Pinoy Farmers’ Internet is a multi-agency project involving PhilRice, DA, Department of Science and Technology, University of Southern Mindanao (Kabacan, North Cotabato), International Rice Research Institute, and the India-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

The partner agencies are the DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research and other DA entities, Central Luzon State University, Pampanga Agricultural College, Isabela State University, University of the Philippines Open University, DOST-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development, DOST-Advance Science and Technology Institute, Philippine Carabao Center, and PHILSCAT.

Covering the OPAPA are three other information and communication technology (ICT)-based initiatives in agriculture, namely the e-Farm and e-Consortia projects of PCARRD, and three e-Agrikultura project of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Under Pinoy Farmers’ Internet are online-related projects such as the Farmers’ Text Center and e-learning. It has 11 cyber communities nationwide.

The cyber communities, according to Barroga, aim to connect farmers to extension workers, knowledge centers or state colleges and universities, and markets through the use of information and communications technology.

Through the Farmers’ Text Center, a farmer can consult an expert via a cellular phone. Farmers who are Smart users can register through 0920-9111398 or 700Rice (7007423) to avail themselves of the center’s services.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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