Naypyidaw, Myanmar, Jan 17, 2017 -- The Department of Agriculture has plans to open a call centre aimed at quickly answering agricultural questions from farmers throughout Myanmar.
While the Department of Agriculture’s main task is to provide educational support to rural farmers, problems arise when sending individual staff members to conduct field inspections on land plots as large as 1000 acres.
Ideally, the call centre employees operating the hotline and staff in the field will work together to answer farmers’ questions and concerns, said U Ye Tint Tun, the director general of the Department of Agriculture.
"We are trying to open the call centre by mid February or early March," he said yesterday.
Call centre employees have already undergone an intensive training by the directors of sub-departments within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation.
The 50 employees are trained to respond to any situation, from answering questions about top-soil fertiliser to what to do when crops become infested with insects.
During the training, employees were given a range of knowledge and hands-on experience, including field work and educational programming with farmers, said U Ye Tint Tun.
All of the employees have graduated with a Bachelor in Agricultural Science at least; many hold masters and PhD degrees.
"We are afraid that the farmers will receive incorrect answers. If so, they will be frustrated," he said. "That is why we make sure employees have the experience to back up their answers."
In the event that the hotline staff cannot immediately answer a question, they have been directed to contact the relevant department head for more information.
One of the biggest issues that farmers are currently asking about concerns bean crops dying out and grains becoming infested with worms and mold, said one farmer, U Myint Thein who works in Lewe township outside of Nay Pyi Taw.
"Most people have problems with Mung beans," he said. "The plants die out … if we do not spray them with pesticides, there won’t be any beans left."
The bacterium responsible for killing off the Mung bean plant is ravaging fields in other regions.
Going forward, educational staff will travel to each region and state, conduct field inspections and communicate with farmers.
"The educational staff will go to the field and assess the situation and then solve the problem as quickly as possible. If they can’t find a solution, they must connect with experts for guidance," said U Ye Tint Tun. "We discussed this plan with over 300 staff just yesterday to ensure the best possible support."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Friday, January 20, 2017
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