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The Philippines puts up new IT kiosks to aid farmers

The government has installed a new set of IT kiosks in one of the country’s agricultural epicentres as it strives to boost competitiveness in the sector by integrating innovation with existing farming methods.  

In a statement, the Agricultural Training Institute in Central Luzon (ATI-CL) said that it has set up a total of five Farmers’ Information and Technology Services (FITS) kiosks in Talavera, Nueva Ecija, a move which it expects would help ramp up farming productivity in the area. 

Jovita Aliam, FITS coordinator in Nueva Ecija, announced that the kiosks were set up in various towns in Talavera, including Mamandil, Cabubulaunan, Baca II, Tabacao and Minabuyoc. She referred to the FITS kiosks as barangay information centres which would provide useful information services to farmers there. 

She added, “As a pilot for the FITS kiosk in the region, we hope that this will help the farmers of the barangays and its neighbouring community to improve their knowledge and skills in rice farming.” 

Alongside the establishment of the agriculture kiosks, the government is laying the groundwork for the enhancement of municipal FITS in Talavera. To cater to the need for modernisation, the municipal government of Talavera was granted a list of items that would further improve their FITS municipal kiosk. These include a portable sound system, brochure holder, garden tools and various information materials about farming and agricultural by-products. 

ATI stated, “[The grant] is part of the extension component of the [Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund] which aims to extend farmers’ knowledge and enhance their capabilities to a more secure rice-farming.”  

Aside from the five kiosks recently established in Talavera, the ATI has earlier instituted 13 FITS kiosks in the region through information and communications technology equipment. Two of the innovations introduced in these kiosks were the Rice Crop Management (RCM) system and Organic Agriculture services. 

ATI has been upscaling its FITS centres by utilising the RCM method. This procedure, as defined by the International Rice Research Institute, is a tool that can be accessed online, either through computers or smartphones. Through this application, crop advisors, government authorities and farming experts can easily talk to farmers and share their insights on agriculture. 

Central Luzon is home to a number of provinces where the Philippines sources out most of its supply of rice and other agricultural products. One of the provinces comprising Central Luzon is Nueva Ecija which is often referred to as the ‘rice granary’ of the state. The province is home to thousands of hectares of land devoted to rice planting. 

Stirring renewed interest in rice farming 

With the installment of the FITS kiosks, the coordinator said that they anticipate a rekindled interest in farmers to go beyond the traditional and into the arena of IT and digitalisation. The kiosks are likewise projected to instil awareness in farmers regarding programs of the Department of Agriculture, as well as legislations that champion the cause of key players in the agricultural sector. 

One of these laws is the Rice Tariffication Law. This legislation aims to modernise the country’s agricultural sector and make it globally competitive. Under this Act, the country shall permit rice imports. However, a tariff shall be imposed upon imported rice, which shall vary depending on the volume of such goods. 

Aside from farming kiosks, the government has rolled out a number of diverse projects in agriculture. One of these is the establishment of smart greenhouse projects. As reported by OpenGov Asia, the agriculture department had allotted funds received from South Korea for a greenhouse venture in Iloilo. This undertaking aims to showcase innovative techniques and instil a modern mindset to farmers in the province. 

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