Smartphones, social media become vital tools for farmers under this digital farming course

Published July 30, 2021, 6:09 PM

by Betheena Unite

Some 800 farmers and young Filipinos are set to take up in-depth digital literacy trainings through the Digital Farmers Program (DFP) 102 that will take place next month.

FARMERS GO DIGITAL — A farmer-youth tandem completes the hands-on activity on smartphone familiarization under the Digital Farmers Program training conducted by Agricultural Training Institute Region 2. (Photo courtesy of the ATI-Region 2)

It will be the second course in the three-level program of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) and Smart Communications Inc., which aims to build a pool of digitally-adept farmers and agriculturally-involved youth nationwide.

The participants recently completed the introductory course and assessment activities on digital literacy.

The DFP 102 this August will center on in-depth agriculture applications and the utilization of social media and smartphones to improve both farming efficiency and productivity.

After this course, participants should be able to identify and use agri-related applications from both government and private organizations, as well as social media platforms that will enhance their practices.

They are also expected to develop skills in e-commerce and learn how to manage online marketing transactions for their products through Facebook and PayMaya, among other platforms available.

It features SPIDTECH, an android application that aims to help its users identify, manage, report, and monitor major insect pests and diseases of local crops like rice, corn, coffee, cacao, banana, and coconut.

Developed by Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines (Project SARAI), the app was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)–Philippine Council on Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development.

Some special features of SPIDTECH include the use of machine learning technology to identify pests and diseases of SARAI-focus crops using mobile phone cameras; and a virtual encyclopedia containing data on identification signs, life stages, management practices, and other pertinent information on different plant pests and diseases.

Another application covered in the DFP 102 course is the Plant Doctor Online, developed by East-West Seed Philippines.

This app provides breeders, researchers, field technicians, and farmers access to a tool that will enable them to potentially identify plant diseases. It also showcases a collection of vegetable disease management guides.

Familiarization on some information, communication, and education resources and tools developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is also being offered under the course.

DFP 102 was piloted in ATI Regions 1, 6, and 13 in June and early July.