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Apr 16

Community Information Technology Centers: A Way Out of Poverty

Tech Talk
Joel T. Fagsao

Starting April 2010,  Xijen College of Mountain Province, Inc. will launch the Community IT (Information Technology) Center For Development (tentative name).  The aim of the center is to help address and narrow access to information gap in Mountain Province.   Access to appropriate and applicable information will hopefully improve the lot in life of farmers, micro and small business owners, service providers and other sectors of the community.  The mission of the center is to provide opportunities for people to explore applicable technologies that could be adapted for improved productivity and increased competencies.  “The right information for your needs”is the mantra of the center.  The center is equipped with Internet access, books and hard copy editions and will be manned by trained personnel and volunteer students who will readily assist those seeking applicable information.  For example, a Non-Government Organization wanting to find information on how to set up low cost sanitary latrines can be provided technical briefs that have already been tested and implemented in other countries.  Small and medium business owners can find access to improved manufacturing processes, marketing and managing small businesses, carrying out feasibility studies and access to new business ideas.  Farmers will also have opportunities to get information on improved crop production, adaptation to climate change, processing and preservation of crops.  For example, a simple technology that could help extend the shelf life vegetables could be adapted in our province.  The use of an evaporative cooling method using earthen jars for example, could make tomatoes have an extended shelf life of 20 days.  The center has set up ten networked computers with Internet access and is in the process of cataloguing information materials available on CD and printed copies.  Technical briefs have been provided by the Practical Action Organization, a UK based NGO that has operations in countries such as Nepal, Sudan, Bangladesh and others.   Information you can have at the center is comprehensive and varied.  This includes technology themes on agriculture, sanitation, crop and food processing, energy, natural resources management, small business management and more.  Technical briefs and manuals could be had and include topics on manufacturing and maintenance of a medical incinerator (How does your hospital dispose medical waste?),  Planning for Municipal Waste Management, Recycling Plastics:  Starting a Business, Recycling Used Lead Acid Batteries, Integrated Soil Fertility and the list could go on and on.  Xijen College has a radio time slot with Radyo ng Bayan every last Friday of the month from 9 A.M. to 10:00 A.M.  The radio time will also be used for the dissemination of technical briefs broadcast in the local dialect or Ilocano.  Radio broadcast is still the main source of information among far flung communities.  A lot of development is going on in preparation for the launch of the center and this is where I am excited about.  It has long been my dream to help enable access to information among the marginalized sector of society.  Teachers in the elementary and high school will also have information on lesson plans related to environmental topics, presentation materials and videos.  Some of the technical briefs on composting, green house gardening, water filtration system, food preservation will be tested at Lengsad, Bontoc.  In this way, farmers can directly observe and learn from such technologies.  The center will also develop databases and document indigenous agricultural practices.  The center advocates the preservation of ancient seed varieties of rice, corn and other local produce.  With bio engineered crop varieties being introduced in the country, our local varieties will soon be extinct.  Training on how to use the Internet will be offered for free to those who will sign up as regular clients of the center.  The center when launched will continue to explore and grow with the needs of the communities.  I will update you all with the developments of the center in this column in the near future.  If you have suggestions and comments about the center, send an email to joelfagsaoatyahoodotcom.

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Now how do you extend the shelf life of your vegetables in hot and humid weather?  A practical application is the use of an evaporative cooling method.  To do this, get a large earthen (clay pot) jar and fit a smaller earthen jar inside.  Cover the empty space with soil and moisten with water.  Put in the smaller jar the vegetables you want to preserve and cover.  The water will keep the inner jar cool.  Every time you need to cook, just open your refrigerator…eer, earthen jar refrigerator..no electricity used and oh it is environment friendly.