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March 11, 2018

CM to distribute 110,000 smartphones among farmers


March 11, 2018

LAHORE : Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is scheduled to inaugurate a programme of distribution of smartphones under the Khadim-e-Punjab Kissan Package on March 12.

In the initial stage of the scheme, 110,000 smartphones will be distributed among farmers registered under the Kissan Package and during the next stage all registered farmers would get smartphone. The phones will be equipped with special apps that help farmers to interact with agriculture experts for advice on improvement in crops, know the weather condition in real time and see videos about latest production technology of crops and crop calendar etc.

The phones will be provided for Rs500 for landless and tenants and Rs1,000 for landowners. The scheme was designed because a lack of a systematic and efficient way to educate, inform farmers was observed. A man-based, slow flow of information was the norm, resulting in farmers making hasty, ill-informed decisions, leading to financial losses and not reaping maximum potential profits.

A first of its kind programme in the Asia-Pacific region, it is all about digitising small and landless farmers to make them well connected, well aware, and in control of their farming workflow.

The Department of Agriculture, Punjab, in collaboration with a mobile service provider and Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has developed carefully-

crafted mobile apps services, keeping its unique target audience in mind to enable technology to rapidly assist and cater to farmer needs. With the smartphones, farmers will be able to apply for loans through the PITB-led app that would eliminate patwari and bank agent culture.

It will create a technology-driven echo system that would give confidence to farmers in deciding what to sow and when and where to sell. The app will also help farmers receive alerts about weather conditions, crop diseases and protection and timely use of fertiliser and pesticide.

The Agriculture Department will also establish “Facilitation Centers” where farmers will be trained on efficient usage of the apps. Since a majority of farmers also need education on the use of the mechanism, around 500 on-ground training sessions will be conducted in 72 facilitation centers to train 25,000 farmers across 144 tehsils of Punjab.

The Agriculture Department is planning to provide the technology to the farming community, so they may able to enter in the new world of information. Small farmers will benefit from the initiative in a big way as the smartphones would display agriculture related information to them within no time and would be helpful in sowing to harvest of crops, local weather updates, crop marketing.

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