Mobile technology helps farming flourish in Malaysia

Farmers in Malaysia, especially rice farmers, can now take advantage of mobile technology, with information related to planting and other farming practices available at their fingertips, thanks to an initiative set up by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

With the intelligent system developed by researchers from the Computer Science Education Centre (School of Health Sciences) at USM, the farmers can obtain information such as the best mode of cultivation, rice diseases, advisory services and the use of pesticides through SMS messaging.

The project leader, who is also a senior lecturer in the USM School of Computer Science, Mohd. Azam Osman, said the technology (known as GreenEve2Peace) serves as an information network of servers to the user.

He said that in thepilot project, USM provides a computing system that can be accessed directly by the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) to broadcast information to farmers in the vicinity of junction four, Alor Star.

"Letters, posters and the word of village leaders and others has become the medium of communication to relay information on the activities of farmers growing rice, but this can be achieved more quickly and accurately with sms," he told reporters after launching GreenEve2Peace.

"The MADA can also spread the message of choice in accordance with article, month, day or specific dates, depending on the desired frequency.''

The launching ceremony was officiated by the Vice Chancellor-cum-Deputy Attorney Dean of Industry and Community School of Health Sciences, Associate Professor Hj Abdullah Zawawi. Talib.

Azam also said the main purpose of the scheme is to introduce a community project that will benefit the local population.

"In addition to strengthening the communication process between MADA and the farmers, the project is expected to ensure sustainability of rice farming in the population,'' he said.

He added that the project also won the international competition Imagine Cup in Egypt in 2009 and was developed with an allocation of RM 157,000.

Commenting on the effectiveness of the project, he said: "Since July last year until March this year, 4389 SMS messages have been successfully sent, and from a survey conducted on over 200 respondents (farmers), 95 percent admitted this way of communicating was much more quick and effective."

In fact, he said, there is demand from farmers to increase the frequency of SMS information, including information on rice price updates, fertilizers and so on.

"This technology seems simple but it appears to have helped a large number of farmers in carrying out activities as they earn income. However, this is not a substitute for the conventional methods used, it just acts as an additional medium to help facilitate and expedite the process of communication,'' he said.

He added that efforts will be taken to other areas such as Suratthani in Thailand in the near future to help the fishermen there with the same method.

Published: 07 Mar 2012

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Universiti Sains Malaysia 11800 Minden Penang

++604-6533888 (Main Campus), ++609-7651704/00/11(Health Campus), ++604-5937788 (Engineering Campus)
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