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Mobile phones to help Filipino farmers

Farmers will soon be able to have tailored advice delivered to their mobile phone (IRRI)
Farmers will soon be able to have tailored advice delivered to their mobile phone

Rice farmers in the Philippines will soon be able to access tailored advice direct from their mobile phones on the amounts and timings of fertiliser applications for their specific fields. Set up by the Philippine Department of Agriculture and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the service is designed to help farmers maximise their output.

"Bringing precision agriculture with IT to small-scale farmers can open up opportunities for farmers to obtain a fertilizer recommendation via a text message and then use their phones to access suppliers of the fertilizer and financing options to purchase it," explains Dr. Roland Buresh from IRRI.

To receive the free text message in their own language with recommendations on what type of fertiliser to use, how much, and when, farmers will simply have to phone a central number and answer a series of automated questions about their rice field and the growing conditions.

Nutrient management decision tools to provide field-specific recommendations for rice, wheat and maize are also now under development. "Information technology and mobile phone applications could change the role of extension workers," Buresh adds. "In the future, they could become less of a technical expert on a topic such as nutrient management and more of an expert on where and how to access information."

Date published: August 2010


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