Pakpattan (Muhammad Yasir)
Agriculture Republic, a think-tank in collaboration with the Internet Society Global has setup Pakistan’s first ‘Digital Dera’ at remote village of Pakpattan district to train 15,000 farmers of the area in digital farming practices by providing them access to latest technology and resources in the farming sector.
In the first phase, two desk-top computers and three tablets have been made available at the Dera, which have been equipped with a fast broad-band connection in an air-conditioned atmosphere powered by a solar system. The Digital Dera has been established at Chak- 26/SP.
Director General Agriculture (Extension) Punjab Dr. Anjum Ali Buttar who was the chief guest at the inaugural of this facility said that the government was taking all out steps for introduction of climate smart agricultural practices in the province. He said that changing weather patterns demand introduction of new crop varieties resistant to climate change.
He said after distribution of smart phones among the growers to provide them access to information available through internet, now the government is going to setup a ‘call center’ where all the information regarding agriculture will be available to growers.
“The Digital Dera is an attempt to empower local farmers through the internet connectivity and access to digital knowledge economy,” said Agriculture Republic co-founder Aamer Hayat Bhandara. “It will also serve as a digital hub to organize awareness and capacity building sessions to educate the youth and small farmers about transparency and accountability in agriculture, food security and climate change policies.”
Bhandara said that the users of the Digital Dera will have access to digital farming and learning resources and what the internet has to offer to the agricultural community powered by Internet of Things (IoT) but not to the social media tools that consume, rather waste, time of the people without offering anything positive.
He said that the facility will not be confined to the residents of Chak 26-SP rather all the farmers from Pakpattan’s rural belt will have access to it to find solutions to their farming challenges, learning about the latest agriculture technology and extension services offered by various members and actors of the Agriculture Republic community.
Foud Bajwa, co-founder Agriculture Republic proudly said that Digital Dera can match any computer lab in the country with regard to connectivity speed and equipment.
Adnan, a young farmer of the village while talking to a group of journalists said that providing a speedy internet in a village devoid of even 2-G phone signals is a great achievement for them. He was hopeful that the facility will not only help them learn new farming techniques but also connect with agriculture experts to get advice on various issues faced from plantation to harvesting of various crops.
Sarfaraz Hussain, another local farmer, looking forward to having information about latest agricultural research, new farming techniques for achieving maximum production with the minimum or judicious use of farm inputs.