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E-Farming The Theme Of 2003 Field Days

14 June, 2002

Minister for Information Technology Paul Swain announced this morning that the theme of next year’s Mystery Creek Agricultural Field Days will be E-Farming.

Information and communication technologies are becoming a more important part of farmer’s lives every day, said Mr Swain.

“With an already high use of computers on our farms, New Zealand farmers have the ability to reduce costs, increase efficiency and develop valuable new products.

“Next year’s Field Days will be a significant opportunity for the rural sector to show case its use of information and communications technologies,” said Mr Swain. “I hope too that it will focus the minds of farmers and the hundreds of companies who service the farming industry on the new opportunities being opened up through electronic commerce and the internet.

“E-commerce presents many opportunities to New Zealand farmers. Farmers can now go online to buy farm items, quickly comparing prices from a wide range of sources, instantly access information on past and current on-farm research and farm management programmes, get better access to markets and reduced supply chain costs. With the improvements in communication between buyer and seller being offered by e-commerce, premiums can be obtained from the market with the potential to hold or even improve margins.

“Central and local government are moving things such as form-filling and permit applications to an online environment to save rural people time and money.

“But the Government recognises the fact that it is difficult to extol the benefits of the internet to farmers, when many struggle to get a decent phone line. We have listened to the concerns voiced by farmers about the poor state of telecommunications infrastructure in many rural areas. Clearly it is not acceptable to have technology, which is available to people in our major centres not available to the rural community, which generates much of New Zealand’s wealth.

“This is one of the major reasons why the Government has committed tens of millions of dollars to providing broadband Internet services to all of our schools and surrounding regions. That initiative, announced in the budget, will mean most schools will get broadband internet next year with the most isolated schools being reached by 2004. As a by-product of the schools being covered broadband will reach 75-85% of the wider community. A further 5-10% may be reached depending on the outcome of the tender process. Several regional communities are currently working on initiatives to provide broadband internet to even the most isolated farmers.

“This is an exciting initiative. It’s an opportunity for our agricultural sector to be even more innovative than it is now.”

Ends

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