12 August 1997
UN internet project helps Latin-American farmers

THE United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (Ifad) has launched the FidAmerica communications network.

It comprises an online database, a virtual farmers market, electronic conferences, newsletters and lists of Ifads 33 projects in Latin America.

Chilean farmers have advertised and sold surplus potatoes after using the technology. It has also been a way for a Dominican farmer to solve a Guatemalans irrigation problem.

The initial project will be finished in December 1998. Ifad is looking to other funding and development bodies to help continue and expand the network.

It is hampered by the illiteracy of the rural poor and unfamiliarity with technology. Some software developers use touch screens, graphics and audio programmes to get around this.

Hardware purchase and the cost of communications falls to community leaders who act as project managers. They are trained at Ifad workshops.

  • Financial Times 12/08/97 page 10