The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and Digicel (PNG) have partnered in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to support NARI’s efforts in increasing awareness and educating selected communities on climate change adaptation and coping strategies.
In a new and innovative development through an AusAID funded climate change project, three rural communities will have Very Small Apeture Terminal (VSAT) established at community based resource centres that were identified and developed under the project as one-stop-centres for information access and capacity development opportunities.
The partnership was signified with the signing of a contract on May 5, which will allow Digicel to provide infrastructure and internet connectivity for a 12 month period.
Project leader Senior Anzu said the initiative is expected to allow greater sharing and access to research information, networking, capacity development, communication and awareness so that communities which are vulnerable to climate change and related stresses are better informed and equipped with climate change coping strategies and adaptation measures.
NARI Deputy Director General Dr Workneh Ayalew said the Institute believes that the application of the technology will enable fast and real time access to useful information resources from a range of online sources and also allow effective collaboration between partners. Dr Workneh said the fast revolving technological innovation and its new interventions have changed the way agricultural information and knowledge are managed and communicated between producers and users, and the selected PNG communities will be accessing that opportunity.
“While the technology will no doubt allow for effective communication, we will be learning as it is the first time we are venturing into it,” he said.
Digicel Account Manager Nomthi Lende said Digicel is committed to ensure that the company delivers the service as per the agreement with NARI.
“We support the project and we will ensure that we meet customer’s expectations,” Ms Lende said.
“This project will add a lot of value in the community and community development is something that is very close to us. Therefore we are honored to be part of this project.
Ms Lende added that it is important for NARI to ensure that the users utilize the service so that it doesn’t go to waste.
The three project sites that will have VSAT installations are Duke of York Island (East New Britain), Korofegu (Eastrn Highlands) and Gumine (Simbu). The communities will subscribe to and source appropriate climate change information resources from a range of sources online using the internet connectivity. The project will supply iPad tablet computers and other communication devices to support speedy capturing, sharing and access to climate change knowledge and facilitate communication among partners in agricultural and rural development through the technology provided by Digicel.
The project, titled “Coping with Climate Change for Resilient PNG Agricultural Communities, is expected to finish at the end of the year but the ICT service would go beyond the project life.
It’s objective is for selected farming communities in climate change vulnerable areas/districts (incl. drought, frost, excess moisture, salinity) have improved awareness on and capacity to cope with CC related stresses.
NARI is piloting the concept of utilizing ICT to enable the project achieve this objective. Experiences elsewhere indicate improved access and sharing of new knowledge resulting in improved agricultural production and productivity through use of ICT in agriculture (eg increased internet and telecom coverage, web 2.0 tools, telephony, etc), especially in this information age when technology is advancing so fast, supported by cheaper and user friendly devices (smart phones, tablets and labtop computers) and internet-based applications and services, enabling people to collaborate to create, share and publish information anytime anywhere.
This is one opportunity NARI is trying out in PNG.