MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking partnerships for the development of cheap Pinoy tablet computer that will advance agricultural entrepreneurship by empowering farmers with critical information such as soil nutrients and farm goods markets.
The DA-Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), together with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), seeks to develop a very affordable tablet computer that will give DA’s extension workers—technicians ubiquitous access to critical farm information.
The tablet computer should have a 24-7 access to internet that must be purely focused on vital farm information (possibly blocking entertainment sites) and geographic information system (GIS).
The GIS will enable farmers to determine whether the crop they plant in a particular location is suitable to that location. It will help determine if the type of soil needs certain types of fertilizer, or whether water or moisture needed in plant growth may be sufficient in this farm area.
“We have an idea to revolutionize Philippine agriculture. We’re bringing a proof of concept tapping the power of Information Technology so we can inform farmers well. There’s no other than the DA that’s leading in enhancing the welfare of the farming community in the country,” said Dr. William D. Dar, ICRISAT director general.
ICRISAT’s network in India, where Dar, a former DA secretary, is based will extend the Philippines assistance in fabricating the hardware, the tablet PC.
“If we want to move forward, we have to start the first step. That’s what a famous Chinese philosopher said,’ A journey of a thousand journey miles begins with a single step,’” said Dar.
BAR will provide content for the tablet.
ICRISAT is also facilitating to provide the Agropedia, a farm management system that a consortium of seven institutions, including ICRISAT, developed to aid Indian farmers.
Indo US Healthcare Chairman Arun Tiwani said Indian Telephone Industry could fabricate the tablet for the Philippines, given government’s approval.
Dr. Michelle Almendrala, Philippine Sugar Research Institute director general, said the tablet computer would have a big impact in raising sugarcane productivity and may supplement on-farm training of farmers.
“Instead of going from farm to farm doing lectures on soil analysis and irrigation, we can just use this tablet with programs in any dialect to teach farmers. We can also try to input programs for fertilizer calculation, depending on the type of soil or fertilizer,” said Almendrala.