Philippine Rice Farmers: Texting for Expert Advice

This week in Manila, I spoke at the annual media summit of AMIC, a Singapore-based media research think tank. This is part of a series of events held in rotation across Asia.

The Philippines is the SMS text messaging capital of the world in terms of density and intensity of usage. Some people here are getting very creative with using text messaging. Charisma Love Gado of the Philippine Rice Research Insititute (PhilRice) gave an interesting presentation on how farmers use mobile phone technology — especially SMS — to access information and tap experts.

Farmers can text the Farmers’ Call Centre for news and advice. They also can post questions ranging from pesticides to modern farming technologies and practices. Answers to common questions can be immediately retrieved from archives, while more technical queries are forwarded to the agency’s scientists and experts. Farmers who have multimedia or camera phones can also take photos of sick plants to speed up the diagnosis process.

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