ICT system can boost our agriculture sector

Letters

I HAVE seen several news stories about the need to increase investment in the agriculture sector to grow the economy.
The Government can do whatever it can to boost the agriculture economy.
However, coming from my background as an IT and Information specialist, I would suggest the use of ICT as a way of improving the agriculture economy in the country.
We don’t have to waste our time and resources to teach people how to participate in the agriculture business.
Agriculture is part of the tradition of the country.
Everyone knows how to grow a garden food or raise and farm animals.
We all do this as part of the tradition in PNG because it is the source of survival for the majority of the people in the country. The only way forward is to disseminate the right information to the farmers.
When they have the right information, they can practically apply them in their agriculture endeavours.
The rural farmers need modern information on how improve their practices.
They need such information like marketing information, weather forecasting, soil management hygiene, health and sanitation farm growing/harvesting/management.
However, the problem is how to make this information available and accessible to the rural farmers.
Considering the country’s uneven service delivery, illiteracy, and geographical terrain the use of simple, affordable and relatively easy to use technology can be a good procedure.
Looking at the current ICT development in PNG, almost everyone owns a mobile phone or a radio device.
Agriculture institutions can use mobile phones as a way of interacting with rural farmers where they can ask and share information just like a u-report system recently introduced by Unicef.
Information can be sent over to respective subscribers through the prescribed network where farmers can ask and access necessary information to help them in their practices.
On that same note, radio and televisions can also be used where the agriculture institutions can arrange with one of the broadcasting companies to disseminate agriculture information using appropriate delivery mode such as in advertisement, news or a talk show perhaps.
Since our country is full of illiterate, and IT illiterate using publication and web/internet technology will never have impact especially to disseminate information to the rural farmers.
Hence, mobile and television and radio can be utilised to help our rural farmer’s access to modern farming information to ensure they sift from traditional farming to modernise farm practices.
Our rural farmers need agriculture information to develop and improve agriculture in their communities.
This simple strategies have been successful in other developing countries who are now enjoying the benefits of improve farm practices because they have invest in such little ICT system to disseminate appropriate farm and agriculture information to the farmers.
If they have done it, PNG can learn from their success to do so.

Sky Bobeng
UPNG, Waigani

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