Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cyber Village project workshop shares successes and learnings

A workshop for the second phase of Enhancing knowledge exchange and decision-making among rice stakeholders through the development and promotion of location-specific Rice Knowledge products and delivery system was held on 19-21 August in Zambales to evaluate the successes, challenges, and insights gained from eight pilot sites of the Cyber Village, a project on communicating rice-based technologies using information and communications technologies (ICTs) to farmers across the Philippines.

Results of baseline survey on farm production costs, farmers’ socio-demographic characteristics, and attitudes towards ICTs for extension were presented at the workshop. Participants also presented the results of the follow-up survey on farmers’ use of and opinions about fertilizer guidelines derived from the Nutrient Manager for Rice (now Rice Crop Manager)— an ICT-based decision tool for farmers developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

Dr. Karen Barroga, project leader of the Improving Promotion and Delivery (IPAD) encouraged participants from the local government units  agencies under the Department of Agriculture, state universities and colleges, and non-government organizations to sustain and integrate the gains of the project into the agriculture programs of each  municipalities.

Roger Barroga, FutureRice program leader at the Philippine Rice Research Institute and lead developer of the Online Public Academy for Philippine Agriculture, cited the PhilCECnet roadmap—a national program that aims to integrate ICT use, not only in agriculture, but also in e-governance, disaster management, distance education among others— as “the way forward.”

Jojo Lapitan, Cyber Village project coordinator and head of IRRI's Partnerships office, encouraged the group to scale-up ICTs in provinces and avail of opportunities provided by the IPAD project for the transformation of communities. Mr. Lapitan also urged participants to continue their relationships with the Cyber Village groups. He plans to invite key farmer-cooperators to IRRI to share their experiences with media exposure and panel discussions.

Gelia Castillo, National Scientist and IRRI Consultant, noted that the limitations of the technical infrastructure/ administrative aspects of ICT at the village level are still far from being solved. But she cited the Cyber Village project can be used as stimulus for acquiring connectivity that would allow ICT-based agricultural technologies to reach farmers and other community stakeholders.Dr. Castillo also added that the Cyber Village participants must form a collective group (social mobilization) and lobby to seek government support to provide internet connectivity in villages. She concluded that the project could offer opportunities in introducing a tech-savvy agriculture to entice the youth to rice science.

Partners who were instrumental to the implementation of the project were recognized during the workshop with plaques of appreciation.

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