Visit to Department of Agriculture, City of GaoYao

Gaoyao Forestry lesser developed part of Guang Dong Province. Meeting with Information Center that has its own TV channel. DoA land is 550.000 acres . forest covering rate is 57%. Products are good quality rice, vegetables and aquaculture, 130 acres aquacultures. They producing also herbs. there are 500.000 farmers out of a population of 730.000. Producing rice and vegetables for the whole province. Cable tv in 99% of the villages. Some villages only of administrative level. Telephone covering rate 45%. 150.000 telephones. All towns are connected by optical fiber to the city. whole city has about 250 websites on city area 45% of families have a PC, whereas on village level this is only 1%.. Government has implemented office automation system.
Popularity of PC in rural areas quite low. But we have still information platform with integrated information, scientific, technology, market and policy information. How this can be disseminated to the farmers?
Not convenient to use the Internet, because farmers do not have this. Two reasons: skills and ability of farmers, and b) buying a PC too expensive. Barreer for internet usage.
According to these two reasons, two approaches for getting information to the village:
a) Agricultural TV channel (see picture) Climate, market information... products only those that are of importance to farmers here. 3rd module is scientific and technology information and agricultural policies. The bottomline is a forecast of the next broadcasting. the typical function of the channel, you can dial a number from home. you dial a number and the channel changes, you can see categories and search what you want. Problem is content production for the TV channels. Service was launched in September 2005. Most content provided by GAAS. Every day one or two requests from the farmers and well acknowledged by other counties. Currently free of charge, the farmers pay only the telephone. To solve the content problem, they made an iformation aggregation service to share multimedia staff with other counties, who produced something already. Another problem: investment of cable tv was done by the county government, no digital transportation at the moment, but analogue, so cannot be point to point service. When service finished users go back to the navigation screen. But it will still take time to implement this in whole China, but welcomed, because no investment for the farmers and very simple operations. TV sets in almost every household..
Scientific and technical information from GAAS, market from ap88, local information from local agricultural offices. They can request also txt files not only multimedia.
b) based on a message system to cellphones. The user of mobilephones are 180.000, this means 70% of active population have a mobile phone. So SMS very convenient. Content also on pestwarning, climate info, market info. Climate information is send weekly for the whole week. Users can register for the services and use it free of charge. You can tick and untick specific information. Pest warning: the boA has substations on pestinspections which will be uploaded to the BoA. The information Centre people convert this infor to message format and send it to all subscribers. There are 40.000 users at the moment. Als the provincial government promot this approach in the other cities. It is now under test for one year. Whole users of this service now about 700.000 in the province, potential users are 4 million. Users in rural areas 5-6 million of cellphone.
2 sms approaches, a you subscribe already with a number and you get all the services or you can customize for specific species. relationship between phone umbers and specific information. Beside the subscribed services there is also SMS on demand. people at the backend: 6 for the system, many more on the content.
Feedback mechanisms: getting information from farmers: system can receive questions........Farmers want to use the system to sell their products.
Other thinkings and projects for rural information services:
- statistical system for relationship between cultivation areas and time to the market, to bring products to the market on different channels..histgorical records for the development of certain products, and to see when productions willcome to the