When we were awarded the Mondialogo Engineering Award in Germany during our engineering course at Pulchok Engineering Campus, we visited villages to implement our project linking agricultural modernisation with information technology. We were excited Mahabir Pun would be helping us.
Before we implemented the project, we felt the modernisation of Nepali agriculture could significantly contribute to the rural economy. But we did not meet any young people interested in taking up agriculture. There were a few places where youth were involved but they did not know much about farming. Agriculture was considered more of a 'time-pass' than a commercially viable venture. Government programs haven't been fruitful; farmers haven't received new training. Most Nepalis are still involved in agriculture but how can we say we are agriculture-based when most depend on remittances?
We met agriculture experts in all the district headquarters but their capabilities were not reflected in the status of agriculture in the villages. If we are to take information technology as the basis of human development in the 21st century, we must make information accessible in our villages. Keeping this in mind, we implemented a pilot program on E-farming in Gulmi district.
Every district headquarter should have an information and communication centre. We have established one in Baletaksar for Gulmi. The computer here acts as a server and has agriculture-related documents, digital books, short films, etc. If a house in the village has a computer, it can access the server. Every VDC should have a training centre equipped with a computer, projector and speakers.
If there is internet, farmers from different villages can share experiences. They can also learn about fair prices for their produce. A virtual class can be conducted to educate the villagers on farming technologies and how they can increase their production. An investment of Rs 200,000 is required to implement such a project in a VDC. This amount is relatively low, considering the economic and social transformation it can bring.
Sagar Gyawali, President Our Technology, Prosperous Nepal www.hprnepal.org.np