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PIA Press Release

Farmers' contact center links distressed farmers with agri-technicians

Tacloban City (March 16) -- At this point in time when farmers are experiencing the ill-effects of El Nino, the Farmers' Contact Center, comes to the rescue and will allow the beleaguered farmers to talk extensively with agricultural technicians and experts to get guidance and information on their various concerns without having to worry about high call rates.

A report from the Department of Agricultures stated that through PLDT Toll Free, call charges from SMART and Talk n'Text mobile phone is set at P7.27 flat rate per call instead of the usual by the minute charging.

The Farmers' Contact Center project made possible by the partnership between the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT), is a novel project that would enable Filipino farmers and fisher folks easy access to agriculture-related extension services via phone call, the internet or through short messaging service (SMS).

An agreement was signed by then-Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and PLDT vice president for corporation relations management Renato Castaneda last February 2010 formalizing the participation of their respective agencies in this farmer-friendly project.

Secretary Yap said this initiative, which is being done by the DA through its Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), is part of the Extension component of the government's flagship program on food security dubbed as the FIELDS.

FIELDS, which enumerates the six areas where government support are being focused on under the President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's food security and sufficiency agenda, stands for Fertilizers, Irrigation and other rural infrastructure like farm-to-market roads (FMRs), Extension services and education for farmers, Loans, Dryers and other postharvest facilities, and Seeds and other genetic materials.

Agriculture Secretary Bernie Fondevilla welcomed the project initiated by Secretary Yap and vowed to support and further strengthen it in his watch.

For his part, ATI Director Asterio Saliot said that initially, agricultural experts will be on hand to answer queries received by the FCC, which has also established direct links to the various DA offices and attached agencies including the state universities and colleges.

Director Saliot said that farmers and fisherfolk can ask about, among others, information on current prices of commodities, schedule of irrigation water releases, marketing of farm produce, and control measures for pest and disease incidents, through the FCC.

The FCC may be accessed through these hotlines: 1-800-10-982AGRI (or 1-800-10-982- 2474) for provincial toll-free calls using PLDT lines. For calls within Metro Manila, the hotlines are 982AGRI (or 982-2474).

Other hotlines include 391DA (or 391-32) for text messages using Smart and Talk&Text; 0920-946AGRI (0920-946-2474) for mobile calls and text messages using Globe, TM and Sun Cellular; info@e-extension. for emails; www.e-extension. and ph for the online discussion fora and instant messaging. (PIA 8) [top]

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