Pakistan’s first Digital Dera set up in Pakpattan

Iqtidar Gilani Our Correspondent

06th Oct, 2021. 10:34 am

LAHORE: The Agriculture Republic, a think-tank, has setup Pakistan’s first “Digital Dera” at a remote village of Pakpattan district in collaboration with the Internet Society Global.

The facility will train 15,000 farmers in digital farming practices by providing them access to latest technology and resources.

In the first phase, two desktop computers and three tablets have been made available at the Dera, which have been equipped with a fast broadband connection in an air-conditioned atmosphere powered by a solar system.

Speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of this facility, Punjab Agriculture (Extension) director general Dr Anjum Ali Buttar said that the government was taking steps for the introduction of climate smart agricultural practices.

He said changing weather patterns demand introduction of new crop varieties resistant to climate change, adding that after distribution of smartphones among the growers to provide them access to information available through the internet, now the government is going to setup a “call center” where all the information regarding agriculture will be available.

“The Digital Dera is an effort to empower local farmers through the internet connectivity and access to digital knowledge economy,” Agriculture Republic co-founder Aamer Hayat Bhandara said.

“It will also serve as a digital hub to organise awareness and capacity-building sessions to educate the youth and small farmers about transparency and accountability in agriculture, food security and climate change policies.”

Bhandara said that the users of the Digital Dera will have access to digital farming and learning resources and what the internet has to offer to the agricultural community powered by Internet of Things (IoT) but not to the social media tools that consume, rather waste, time of the people without offering anything positive.

The facility will not be confined to the residents of Chak 26-SP rather all the farmers from Pakpattan’s rural belt will have access to it to find solutions to their farming challenges, learning about the latest agriculture technology and extension services offered by various members and actors of the Agriculture Republic community, he said.

Foud Bajwa, co-founder of the Agriculture Republic, said that Digital Dera can match any computer lab in the country regarding connectivity speed and equipment.

Adnan, a young farmer of the village while talking to a group of journalists, said that providing a speedy internet in a village devoid of even 2G phone signals is a great achievement.

He expressed the hope that the facility will not only help them learn new farming techniques but also connect them with agriculture experts to get advice on various issues being faced from plantation to harvesting of various crops.

Sarfaraz Hussain, another local farmer, was looking forward to having information about latest agricultural research, new farming techniques for achieving maximum production with the minimum or judicious use of farm inputs.

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