Tuesday, November 23

Farmers connected to the Net

The Information Technology revolution and the accelerated rate of this change, along with the profound availability of knowledge and entertainment, are creating unprecedented changes in the flow of information, finance and trade in and among nations.

New jobs, use of new technologies, ease of access to global markets, access to education, new modes of community building-all of these things, and many more, are dividends of this revolution in information technology. Yet the fruits of the Information Age are out of reach for many in both the developed and the developing nations. This gap, the "digital divide", threatens to cut off populations from good jobs and the chance to participate in the affairs of the broader society.

To some citizens technology brings the promise of opportunity and wealth; for others, greater isolation and increased poverty. Digital Divide throws a light on the role computers play in widening social gaps throughout our society. By providing equitable and meaningful access to technology we can ensure that people belonging to different nations and strata of societies will effectively grow in the new the millennium together. As the world recession deepens in 2002, the movement to end the Digital Divide has moved to a crucial new phase. The cause is no longer merely about reducing world poverty. It is also about reviving the global economy. Indeed providing meaningful access to the Internet for the entire six billion populations is the only way to achieve sustained growth.

The Internet facility is spreading in Pakistan's rural areas in a significant way as Internet connection has been provided to over 500 cities and towns and the target for the current year is to equip almost 700 city and towns with this technology. In countries like Pakistan where citizens still struggle for reliable sources of food, water, medical care and educational opportunity, bridging the digital divide may seem like a lofty goal indeed. Information and communication technologies only can serve as a crucial factor in developing more and more opportunities, enabling individual citizens, NGOs and governments to improve the quality of life at home and abroad.

Simply put, "the digital divide" means that between countries and between different groups of people within countries, there is a wide-division between those who have real access to information and communications technology and are using it effectively, and those who don't. In a bid to bridge the prevalent digital divide in Pakistan agriculture sector, a customised Internet Van will visit the farmers in the farms and expose them to the Internet, take their feedback and provide basic Internet training. Our farmers will not be able to utilise the new technologies unless they are trained in how to acquire that wealth information though Internet. For this purpose, an agri-portal www.pakissan.com has taken an innovative step to bridge the Digital Divide in the Pakistan Agri sector. The Van was inaugurated by then Federal Minister of Science and Technology, now advisor to the President Gen. Musharraf, Prof. Ata-ur-Rahman on February 14, 2002. The Van hosts a modest Internet ready equipment and set-up. It is geared to be used by new comers not familiar with Technology. Eventually it has been planned to have fully integrated Internet with independent downlinks and communications equipment. The basic of aim this project is to give Internet training to the farmer and community youth by giving orientation to Agri-web sites and resources.

To encourage the local community to connect to Internet is the focal point of this exercise. Regular trips to different farming areas will be planned in co-ordination with farmer organisations.

No comments: