LAHORE: As the first step towards creating smart internet-connected villages in the country, a Digital Dera has been set up at a small and remote Pakpattan village to provide access to the local farmers to latest technology and resources in the farming sector.

Established with the collaboration of Agriculture Republic, a think-tank, Internet Society and Hayat Farms, the Digital Agriculture Community Network project at Chak 26-SP aims at building the capacity of more than 15,000 farmers of the area in digital farming practices.

In the first phase, two desktop computers and three tablets have been made available at the Dera, equipped with a fast brand-band connection in an air-conditioned atmosphere powered by a solar system. “The Digital Dera is an attempt to empower local farmers through the internet connectivity and access to digital knowledge economy,” says Agriculture Republic 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.”

Adnan Afzal, a young farmer of the village, says providing a speedy internet in a village devoid of even 2-G phone signals is a great achievement for them. He hopes 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. Sarfraz Hussain, another local farmer, looks forward to having information about latest agricultural research, new farming techniques for achieving maximum production with the minimum or judicious use of farm inputs.

Mr Bhandara says 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 but not to the social media tools that consume, rather waste, time of the people without offering anything positive.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2021

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