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Lampung farmers surf the Internet - Jakarta Post
Last modified: 2010-04-16 18:03:47

The Internet is no longer the preserve of urban dwellers, with people in rural areas, including farmers, now learning to use the technology.

The Lampung Fishery and Forestry Counseling Coordination Agency (BKPPK) has launched a cyber-extension program to facilitate guidance counselling for farmers via the Internet.

"This is part of an advanced program. Agricultural extension through the cyber extension program is counselling by using the Internet. Counselling can be carried out at the BKPPK office, but farmers involved in the program can learn from their own villages," said Kusnardi, the Lampung BKPPK secretariat head.

"The method of counselling can be carried out through 12 Internet connections simultaneously. Each participant will be able to see the faces of other participants and counsellors on the monitor."

Kusnardi said the cyber extension system had gone through trial runs at the Lampung BKPPK. He was optimistic the program was feasible because farmers, members of farming communities and farming groups in Lampung were accustomed to using computers, which meant it would not be difficult to conduct the agricultural cyber extension.

"Any information, including issues on agriculture, such as on food crops, horticulture, plantation, livestock, fishery and forestry can be conveyed and participants can ask directly to the Lampung BKPPK."

Cyber extension is a new system in counselling. The counselling method applied so far is a training and visiting system (face to face). With cyber extension, counselors do not have to visit villages or meet farmers directly.

Two years ago, farmers and fishermen in a number of villages in Tulangbawang regency, Metro city and Pesawaran received donations in the form of free Internet equipment from the Microsoft software company.

Microsoft also taught farmers and fishermen to use the Internet through the Community Training Center (CTC) learning forum.

"The program helps overcome the digital gap in Indonesia. Lampung is one of the 15 provinces assigned to develop the information technology *IT*," said CTC Tani Maju manager Edi Purwantoro in Mulya Asri village, Tulangbawang.

Purwantoro said the learning forum initiated by Microsoft was expected to help farmers, especially young farmers, to improve their IT skills to raise the welfare of farmers and fishermen. Microsoft is working together with Asia Foundation in this program to prepare a curriculum, training module and networking with NGO Indonesian Forum (Formasi) in setting up infrastructure and training.

Purwantoro said CTC had provided facilities equipped with electronic devices, computers and Internet access in villages. CTC's presence would push expenses as low as possible in gaining IT or computer and Internet knowledge for rural residents.

To relieve the burden on villagers, PT Telkom has provided a 70 percent subsidy on the monthly telephone bill of the facilities. It has even provided a separate line for Internet access, so residents are only required to pay for the electricity bill and maintenance costs of between Rp 300,000 and Rp 400,000.

CTC Tani Maju could gain between Rp 900,000 and Rp 1 million per month from the subsidies in operational costs, including typing services, courses, printouts and Internet access.

"The profit is reused to subsidize those who could not afford to learn and access the Internet. So there is no longer distance and time constraints in providing agricultural counselling to farmers," Purwantoro said.

Oyos Saroso H.N. , The Jakarta Post , Bandarlampung | Wed, 09/23/2009 12:34 PM

Keywords: Jakarta Post, internet, BKPK, technology, farmers, Purwantoro, Tulangbawang, Microsoft
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