FARMHELP: A New Mobile Application to Link Filipino Farmers to the Department of Agriculture

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GOOD NEWS–A new mobile phone application, FARMHELP, could now be used by farmers, fisher folks and other agriculture stakeholders to forward their concerns and submit complaints to the Department of Agriculture 24 hours every day and seven days a week.

FARMHELP, designed by the group PureForce which also designed the 911 program of the administration of President Rody Duterte, was launched in simple ceremonies last Tuesday in the Office of the Secretary.

Using a smart phone, the user could just go to the Apps and he would find FARMHELP which he could tap to download the application.

Once downloaded, the user could start following instructions which would be shown in the phone screen.

He could tap the name of an office if his concerns are with a specific bureau, corporation or attached agencies under the Dept. of Agriculture.

For example, a farmer who would like to request for a technical information on a disease affecting his fruit trees, he could simply take a photo of the diseased plant and send it to the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).

The information will immediately be forwarded to the BPI by the 24/7 answering desk as soon as the offices open the following morning.

In cases of extreme emergency, the user could use SMS messaging or call a Hotline which would be indicated once the FARMHELP phone application is downloaded.

Damage to crops or vital farm infrastructures like roads or bridges could be easily responded to.

The phone application will also warn farmers and fisher folks of incoming typhoons or weather disturbances and provide information on when rains are expected.

It would also give fisher folks an advisory when it is not safe to go out to sea to fish.

The FARMHELP apps will be able to pinpoint the exact location of the user at the time the message is received, thus providing a faster system to extend help immediately.

The DA Secretary will also be able to monitor the whereabouts of all the Undersecretaries, Bureau Directors and Regional Directors of the DA because each will be given a special phone which could be tracked.

Starting November, DA technical teams will start a nation-wide information campaign to instruct farmer-leaders on how to use the phone application.

Each farmers’ association and cooperative will also be provided with a low-cost smart phone which they could use to forward the concerns of their association or cooperative.

FARMHELP is the first smart phone application which the DA will be using to give farmers, fisher folks and agriculture stakeholders greater access to the department.

It is also expected to improve transparency and accountability in the Department of Agriculture.

(c) Manny Pinol

(Photos of FARMHELP apps launching taken by John Pagaduan. Smart phone photo downloaded from Google.)

RESEARCHER’S NOTE:
This is a very good initiative but the Not-so-good News is..
Not all Filipino farmers can afford to buy smartphones or they must at least learn how to use one first. 🙂 The technology is made available but we still need to work more on financing and marketing.

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#BuyLocal: Support Local Farmers

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(c) Rey Pasion via FB

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local produce and that’s kind of the same thing. How so?  Locally grown food tastes better. The state of freshness is ensured as the time in transit is less and/or less time to sit around. Thus, it is more nutritious. The healthier you get, the happier you’ll be.

You help your local economy grow. Locally grown food helps build communities because when you buy directly from the farmer, you are building a relationship while also helping to support local farmers who are providing for you as much as they are providing for their own families.

If you choose to spend your money at the grocery store next week then you would never even notice you were gone. If you took a small fraction of that money and spent it on local products being sold by local farmers, you would help pay the rent or you could even SAVE HIS FARM, save his family.

So why not put a smile ◕◡◕ on our local farmers. Let’s patronize our local products.


While Mang Juan is watching his field on a dry spell, I could see his eyes hoping for a good planting season and a bountiful harvest. And when he could have it, he earnestly hope his produce will be sold out at a very good price. By then, he can pay his land rent, provide for his family’s primary needs, and can have something to invest and roll out for the next cropping period.

I cannot do much for the local farmers in my community who are patiently waiting for the rain to come so they can start planting rice, vegetables and other important crops. But if this simple writing serves as a reminder to all of us to keep their hopes up then why not? Let’s make it happen. 😊 #BuyLocal #SupportTheFarmers #SupportAgriculture

Think Globally, Act Locally

When I was younger I would hear some people jokingly say, “Go home and plant Camote” especially when someone does not want to study or when one performs low in academics. It seems farming has been looked down on ever since. As a result, young people tend to be inferior about themselves especially when their parents’ primary source of living is farming or when the college diploma is Agriculture-related.

Farming is considered as a tedious job and we think it doesn’t pay off well so we never tried to venture on it. Instead, some of us look for a different job or.. leave our homeland  to serve another.

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“Dati, nahihiya pa tayong sabihin na ang kabuhayan ng ating mga magulang ay pagsasaka o kaya medyo hindi pa tayo proud sabihin na ang tinapos natin ay ‘Agriculture-related’ course. So kahit na madiskarte ka, medyo mababa ang tingin mo sa chance mong makakuha ng trabaho na may mataas na sahod. Sad noh? Kaya.. nag-abroad ka na lang. Sana ngayon, dapat magkaroon tayo ng positibong pananaw tungkol dito” –👣

Now that I’ve grown and have my own share of life and professional experiences, I realize we should not underestimate the power/potentials of Agriculture. There is a need to boost the prestige of Agriculture to entice young people to be involved into farming. With smart technology emerging swiftly, it doesn’t always have to be an inferior 3-D job.

If we do not invest on human capital and educate (with proper mentality) now, the future might seriously suffer. Let’s be involved 🙂

😊 Agriculture is a NEED not just a WANT.
No Farmers, No Food, No Future ^_^
👣 The Modern Farmers


What’s New?


Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, wants to change the food system by connecting growers with technology. Get to know Harper’s “food computers” and catch a glimpse of what the future of farming might look like.
Watch This Computer Will Grow Your Food in the Future and see how it works.

Read & Tell: These 4 Agriculture Fields Have Great Job Opportunities

Agriculture is a field of science which is often stereotyped into images of a ‘farmland’, ‘poor life’, ‘low-income job’ or ‘life under a scorching heat of the sun. Hey, I’d like to change that boxed thinking. There’s more to agriculture than anybody could ever imagine.

When I was taking up Agribusiness in college I often heard people would say, “Why agriculture? Why not medicine, nursing, accountancy or teaching. You are too smart for agriculture.”

“I am smart just enough to recognize a better future in this field. I love my country so much to give it up and I can see that the future belongs here,” I answered.

Surely, THERE’S A PRICE TO PAY FOR AGRICULTURE AS A CAREER OPTION BUT SOON YOU’LL REALIZE THAT THE OPPORTUNITY COST COMES WITH MORE OPPORTUNITIES AND GREATER REWARDS. 🌲🌲🌲
-The Official Traveler 👣 


 

I am reminded of this simple incident as I come across with this brief article. I take no credit on his writing. I just want to share it in my personal blog because I believe it is true and worth-sharing. TELL THE KIDS, WHY NOT? 🙂

Article from Modern Farmer site. 

When you hear the word “agriculture,” images of a farmer atop his tractor may come to mind, but there are a slew of other related professions to pursue, from engineering to economics.

Earlier this year, a study led by Purdue University determined that in the next five years there would be close to 60,000 job openings annually in fields related to agriculture, food, the environment, and renewable natural resources. We spoke to three professors at Purdue—a major research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana, which is consistently ranked as having one of the top agricultural sciences programs in the country (and world for that matter)—on which professions are emerging in this field.

Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Agricultural engineers can focus on machine design, design, and processes of getting food produced at the farm to your plate, or environmental challenges working with soil, water, and air, says Bernard Engel, head of Purdue’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Careers include working for equipment manufactures in the agricultural, forestry, construction, and military industries. On the environmental and natural resources end, there are jobs with various government agencies or consulting firms.

Engel says the all of the programs in his department are in high demand right now. “Many of the advances in agriculture right now are coming in this area. The future looks bright as well, given expectations of even more technology being used in agriculture in the future,” he says in an email.

Biological engineers deal with issues that include food processes, things like making food taste better or making it last longer; and cellular and biomolecular engineering, which concerns “finding better ways to get value from by-products or getting energy from biological materials.” The food industry is a major employer. Engel says there is also a demand in research and development for these graduates, not only in the food and pharmaceutical industries, but also in genetic engineering in plants.

Agricultural Systems Management graduates help make agricultural technology easier to understand and use, says Engel, and students in this area are “highly sought after in careers with machinery, grain handling, and precision technology.”

Soil Science

Students can focus on soil ecology, chemistry, physics, conservation, and soil landscapes—mapping the soil attributes of a certain area—among other fields of study. John Graveel, an agronomy professor and director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Science program at Purdue, says job prospects for soil scientists right now are very strong. Job opportunities include working for state and federal agencies, environmental consulting firms, and other groups, like the Nature Conservancy.

“Soil science students are getting some training ingeographical information systems [GIS],” Graveel tellsModern Farmer in a phone interview. (GIS is a computer system that is used for collecting and displaying data as it relates to geographic points on the Earth’s surface.) “It’s hugely in demand right now by consulting firms to have people on staff who know how to do GIS.”

Agricultural Economics

Agricultural economics is the practice of applying economic principles to public and private decisions made in the agricultural sector, explains Kenneth Foster, head of Purdue’s Agricultural Economics Department. The field includes sales and marketing, agribusiness, farm management, policy making, and natural resource and energy economics.

Job prospects are “pretty strong” for graduates in this “heavily data and metric driven” field, Foster says. “We placed 98 percent of our graduates last May by the end of the summer. Well over 100 students got jobs.”

Pro tip: Foster says because we’re entering an era of data-driven decision making, “the students who can position themselves to be strong from an analytical and problem-solving perspective are going to have an edge in the market.”

All three professors agree on what students interested in these fields should be focusing on: math and science. You get a bonus for taking part in extracurricular activities that help build leadership, communication, and organizational skills.

Startups

Finally, let’s not forget the entrepreneurs out there who are tech savvy and like to go it alone. Agricultural technology startups are blooming right now. Last year the industry grew by 170 percent and had more than $2.36 billion in investment, according to the website TechCrunch.

“I think the agricultural tech industry is doing well because it’s been overlooked for awhile. I think that’s really going to change and it’s going to continue to grow,” says Jason Aramburu, founder and CEO of Edyn, a startup that makes a smart watering sensor for crops.

Piolo Pascual: The New ‘RICEponsible’ Ambassador

Piolo-Pascual-PhilRiceThe Filipino multi-awarded actor, recording artist, endorser, and producer Piolo Pascual joins the nationwide call for responsible rice consumption as the new RICEponsible Ambassador.

Pascual pledged to promote the advocacy of the Department of Agriculture’s Be RICEponsible campaign such as the consumption of brown rice and rice mixed with corn or other staples, appreciation of our farmers’ hard work, and the non-wastage of rice that would all contribute to the country’s rice self-sufficiency stride.

Culturally, we love to eat rice. It’s disappointing to know the facts on how much rice is wasted every year. I think it’s about time for us to do something about it. The best way for me to help is by using my influence to send out awareness for people to really value rice in this country,” Piolo Pascual

Taking off from the National Year of Rice in 2013, the Be RICEponsible is an advocacy campaign that promotes responsible rice consumption by encouraging Filipinos not to waste rice, eat healthier forms of rice, and by valuing the hard work of our farmers.

©PhilRiceWebTeam & StarMagic