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.)
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.