(February 26, 2012) With the advent of Digital Age, the demand of literacy on new technology among all kinds of individuals – may they be professionals, students, skilled workers, or even farmers – has significantly increased.
            The City Government of Tacurong, through its yearning to help its people to keep with the pace of this age and to provide them with the best and most up-to-date services, cooperated with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to launch a Cyber Community in Barangay Baras, Tacurong City.
            The launching on February 17 was spearheaded by Mr. Rodel Orejudos of PhilRice Midsayap, Atty. Cirilo Y. Flores, OIC Mayor and City Councilor, Hon. Joselito Z. Cajandig, Sr, City Councilor and Chairman of Committee on Agriculture, and Mr. Ivan Cerbo, Barangay Baras Chairman.
In a written report, Jezereel Louise Billano of PhilRice Nueva Ecija explains that “a cyber community or CyberCom is an ICT-enabled farm village. It is established to link farm communities to various stakeholders who can potentially help them improve their farm production. Equipped with computers and Internet, as well as other digital knowledge products, the community is enabled to have access to agricultural technologies that they need for their farm.”
            Barangay Baras was provided with a complete computer set, a printer and an Internet connection with a WiFi router. However, apart from these devices, information resources and services were also granted. This was made possible by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA), a network of research and development centers spearheaded by PhilRice.
             These information resources and services came in form of websites, video conferencing and printed materials. Partner universities such as the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP), University of Southern Mindanao (USM), and Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) were instrumental in the conceptualization and establishment of these features of CyberComs, Billano said.
“The CyberCom concept encourages farmers and rice knowledge workers to continuously learn and share knowledge by using both conventional and novel communication tools. Supported by local extension workers, the CyberCom hopes to enhance farmers’ awareness and knowledge on the existing and emerging farm and communication innovations,” she added.
According to City Councilor Cirilo Flores, the information resources and services of the CyberCom in Baras will be distributed in all barangays in Tacurong in the form of printed materials. This is to extend and to maximize the CyberCom’s assistance to all the farmers in the city. He also assured that the project will have a continued support from the city government.
Thus it is a positive response since “PhilRice emphasizes on the barangay/LGU’s ownership of the project as they have the responsibility to sustain it, making sure that the CyberCom (infrastructure, services, manpower) effectively address the needs of the stakeholders, especially of the rice farmers,” Billano stressed. (Jessa Billano)