PTA encourages development of local content-based mobile solutions
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is encouraging the development of local content based mobile solutions for farmers in the country.
While addressing a workshop titled “What Can Telecommunication Do for Agriculture” on Tuesday, Chairman PTA Dr Mohammad Yaseen said “the PTA is now encouraging the development of local content-based mobile/ICT applications and is willing to extend all kinds of support to help farmers through the provision of reliable and timely information, local content-based applications and the automation of agriculture production processes using specialised applications of mobile phones and ICT.”
During the workshop it was stressed that there has been need for ICT access for emergency and disaster management, use of interactive media, automated data collection and an out-of-the-box approach for telecom usage in the agriculture sector.
The event was organised in collaboration with LIRNEasia, a regional ICT policy think tank, based in Sri Lanka. The main theme of this joint initiative of the PTA and LIRNEasia was to share international experiences and research with Pakistan, to learn from successful telecom-agriculture models and improve agricultural productivity through increased usage of the ICT.
The event was attended by representatives from agriculture organisations, international experts, agriculture consultants, policy makers, government officials, farmers associations, telecom operators, value added service providers, agriculture credit departments and donor agencies including the World Bank, ADB, USAID and DFID working in the agriculture sector.
In his opening remarks, Chairman PTA Dr. Mohammed Yaseen said that agriculture is the backbone of PakistanÕs economy as it accounts for 21 percent of national income, employs 45 percent of the countryÕs total workforce and provides a livelihood to 60 percent of our rural community.
He said that farmersÕ access to relevant information and adoption of ICT and telecom value added services by the rural community can bring about a revolution in agriculture production.
Similarly, the Pakistan telecom sector is considered an exemplary growth model around the globe and our agriculture sector can also be a model by adopting telecom and acquiring its benefits. Today, we have a total teledensity in excess of 72 percent with 119.9 million mobile subscribers. The chairman said that after success in e-commerce and branchless banking initiatives, Dr. Rohan Samarjiva, CEO & Chair LIRNEasia presented research carried out by the organisation on the subject of how the underprivileged make use of ICTs and findings from worldwide studies of Teleuse at the bottom of the pyramid.
He said that mobiles are the preeminent communication technology among the poor, among smallholders and those who interact with them. Yet, the use of mobiles for livelihood-related purposes is moderate in the agriculture sector. “More mobile-based applications are needed for better diffusion of telecom in agriculture,” he said.