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PIA Press Release

DA, PLDT team up to expand farmers' access to agri info

Manila (16 March) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) and telecommunication giant Philippine Long Distance Company (PLDT) have partnered on a novel project that would enable Filipino farmers and fisherfolk to easily access agriculture-related extension services via phone calls, the Internet or short messaging service (SMS).

Powered by PLDT's OnCall (Managed Contact Center solution), this Farmers' Contact Center (FCC) project will allow farmers to talk extensively with the Department's agricultural technicians and experts to get guidance and information on their various concerns without having to worry about high prices on call rates. Through PLDT Toll Free, call charges from SMART and Talk n' Text mobile is set at P7.27 flat rate per call instead of charging by the minute.

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.

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 Yap and vowed to support and further strengthen it on his watch.

President Arroyo recently named Fondevilla, a former DA undersecretary and Yap's Chief of Staff at the DA, to succeed Yap.

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.

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; 982AGRI (or 982-2474) for calls within Metro Manila; 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. (DA Press Office) [top]

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