Pakistan's first' Digital-Dera' launched to improve access to digital farming resources. Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: A digital initiative has been launched in Pakistan’s fertile Punjab province to empower farmers with digital agriculture solutions and to create smart villages.

A ‘Digital Dera’ (technology-enabled community) has been set up at Chak 26-SP in the Pakpattan region of Punjab, offering more than 1,500 farmers from across the rural belt complimentary Internet access to help them find solutions to farming challenges by learning about the latest agriculture technology and services. This is the first of its kind digital agriculture community network pro-ject in Pakistan.

New digital initiative to empower farmers
•Digital Dera is equipped with high-speed Internet and will help build the capacity of small farmers latest with awareness sessions in the local language.
•It aims to empower local farmers through the power of Internet connectivity and access to the digital knowledge economy.
•It will also serve as a digital hub to organise awareness and capacity building sessions to educate the youth and small farmers on food security and climate change policy spaces.

The initiative is a joint collaboration of Agriculture Republic startup and Internet Society and is supported by Hayat Farms Pakpat-tan, Accountability Lab, and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL).

Talking to Gulf News, Pakpattan-based young farmer and Agriculture Republic founder Aamer Hayat Bhandara said “the network will support youth, women and men farmers to learn and access the latest information and knowledge about digital and precision agriculture, especially smart farming innovations with hands-on capacity building and demonstrations.”

It will support Internet empowered entrepreneurship and introduce the farmers to the power of IoT (Internet of Things), e-commerce, digital and online means to increase crop yields, smart management of farms and promote agriculture products to the world from the heart of Pakistan’s rural centre. Hayat Farms is contributing the physical space and infrastructure while PTCL con-tributes both paid and in-kind Internet bandwidth enabling transmission between cities to the dense rural areas.

Digital Dera aims to contribute as agriculture and food security innovation lab where AgriTech startups and investors from around the country can visit and test their products and innovations in an actual agricultural space, Hayat said.