Technology

Pakistani farmers to be given five million smartphones

Pakistani man with phone Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Farmers in Pakistan will receive five million smartphones, starting in October

Five million smartphones will be given to farmers in Pakistan in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques, an official has said.

The first phones would be delivered in October, said Punjab Information Technology Board chairman Dr Umar Saif.

Advice from experts would also be distributed via the devices.

"The farmers will receive free alerts about the use of pesticides for their yields," said Dr Saif, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan.

Large numbers of farmers in countries such as India and Kenya have also recently experimented with smartphone technology.

Hendrik Knoche at Denmark's Aalborg University was involved in a recent project to design a smartphone interface that could be used by farmers in India, even those with literacy problems.

He said the move by Pakistan was "laudable" but added that, from his experience, there might be difficulties in getting the most relevant information to users.

"A lot of the information that farmers are really interested in is often not available online," he told the BBC, "such as whether a local dealer has good quality material or whether it's adulterated."

At the very least, Dr Knoche said, his experience suggested that even farmers new to the devices would soon pick up the basics of how to use them - and that that could benefit them in the future.

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