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Five million smartphones will be given to farmers in Pakistan’s largest province in an effort to improve knowledge of modern farming techniques and including them into the stream of e-governance.

The Punjab government will provide 500,000 smartphones to farmers for receiving billion rupee-worth interest-free loans a year and other agriculture services in the first phase of a five-year project for providing five million smartphones.

The purpose of providing the smartphones to farmers would be to provide the details regarding weather beforehand. The software and other necessary apps in this regard shall be made through the joint contribution of the Information Technology (IT) board of Punjab government and the Meteorological Department.

Addressing a meeting at his office on Wednesday, Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Chairman Dr. Umer Saif said “The distribution of smartphones will start in October, and its apps will also help farmers interact with agriculture officials and experts for advice on improvement in crops,”

“Mobile money will be transferred to their smartphone where the farmers will be able to directly avail that money by withdrawing it through any mobile agent.” He added, “Through this method, we are eliminating any chances of corruption.”

With the availability of smartphones, the farmers will be able to get weather updates, information about crop diseases and its solutions as well as information about every other type of farming.

The main advantage to the farmers of these smartphones would be the availability of mobile banking.

Which brand will provide smartphones?

Punjab government, particularly, PITB is not curious about any brand. Commenting on it, Saif responded, “We have only described the specifications of the phones and rest is up to the telecom operators. They would do it”.

Multiple telecom operators are competing for the contract, and they have the timeline of 2 months for this Dr. Saif explained.

It could be any brand from the existing manufacturers/sellers in Pakistan or telecom operators could reach to vendors in China for competing with the players in the local market.

The purpose of these smartphones is similar to that of the phones provided to the education departments in Punjab under the E-Reporting system for keeping an eye on the attendance of the teachers, stationery, and other important things.

Earlier, the PITB introduced the PITB-powered version of Haier’s latest Esteem i40 smartphone to monitor the anti-polio and anti-dengue campaigns in Punjab.

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