Bringing the Internet down to the farm
With hundreds of farmers and farmers' wives now attending mobile computer training courses throughout Co Waterford, Michael Power wants to go one step further and introduce the Internet to the farm business.
He has designed a programme aimed at helping farmers to develop their businesses with the use of information technology. As part of the plan an interactive Web site is to be set up on the Internet which will enable farmers to request and receive solutions to various farming problems.
The Leader II rural development programme will fund the initiative, which is being promoted by Waterford Leader Partnership Ltd, of which Michael Power is education and training officer.
Similar funding has already facilitated the training programme under which he is teaching basic computer skills to farmers and others at weekly classes in villages around the county.
Farmers who have become computer-literate will be invited to take part. They will be drawn from all sectors of farming and economic backgrounds.
The interactive Web site will allow them to share practical experience, via the Internet, with other farmers participating in the programme.
The use of the Internet as a source of new information on farming practices and techniques will be promoted. This is already well appreciated in some other jurisdictions. Michael has visited Greenmount Agricultural College, in Co Antrim, which is on the way to having some 2,000 Northern farmers on the Internet by the year 2000.
The scheme should also enable Waterford farmers to link in with each other and to share "best practice" information.
They will be able to access information on pricing of cattle and cereals and can design software packages to operate their farm accounts, milk quotas and so on.
The first priority is to get the farmers proficient on the computer. As they develop its use it should make them more efficient and cost-effective, he says.
Readers who wish to contact Dick Grogan can leave messages by dialling (01) 670-7711, extension 6298