Submitted for Topic 1, Topic 3, Topic 5 and Topic 8B
The pilot scheme in the Huaral Valley, 80 kilometres north of the capital Lima, aims to offer the valley communities up-to-date information on agricultural market prices and trends.
The Agricultural Information Project for Farmers of the Chancay-Huaral Valley also provides vital links between local organizations in charge of water irrigation, enabling them to coordinate their actions.
The non-government organisation Cepes (Peruvian Centre for Social Studies) led the $200,000 project, also backed by local institutions, the Education and Agriculture ministries, and European development organisations.
One of the institutions which supported the project was the Agency for supervision of private investments in telecommunications, in spanish the ORGANISMO SUPERVISOR DE LA INVERSION PRIVADA EN TELECOMUNICACIONES known for short as OSIPTEL. This Agency manages the Fund for Investment in Telecommunications ? FITEL which is dedicated for telecommunication developments in rural areas and those of social interest.
The communities comprehend more than 13,000 rural inhabitants, as well as 18,000 students in the region, that also benefit from the telecommunication infrastructure.
The 14 telecentres uses only free open source software and affordable computer equipment and was officially inaugurated in September 2004.
Summary: HUARAL VALLEY NETWORK
· 14 telecentres: Two in the city, with ADSL link to the national network
· 12 interconnected through Wi-fi equipment.
· Radios: AIRNET Bridge 11 Mb WATERPROOF/POE High Power. Band: 2.4 GHz.
· Wi-fi aerials built locally
· One high-spec server in each centre
· IP Telephone Swith Allti-X
· Telephone adapters (ATAs) and accessories
· HP Proliant ML 110 Server
· Average five low-spec computers in each centre
· Training as a key factor for the success of the programme
The Board of Irrigation Users which runs the computer centres, aims to make the network self-sustainable within three years, through the cash generated by using the telecentres as internet cafes.
One of the key elements of the project is the Agricultural Information System, with its website www.huaral.org , where farmers can find the prices for local products, as well as information on topics ranging from plague prevention to the latest farming techniques.
The system also helps the inhabitants of the Chancay-Huaral Valley to organize their vital irrigation systems. Water is the main element that unites them all. It is a precious element in Peru's coastal areas, because it is so scarce, and therefore it is necessary to have proper irrigation systems to make the most of it.
The information network also allows farmers to look beyond their own region, and share experiences with other colleagues from the rest of Peru and even around the world.
The involvement of the farmers has been key in the project's success. Throughout the last years, the people have provided a vital thrust to the project; they feel it belongs to them. The community training sessions, attended by an equal number of men and women, have been the perfect showcase for their enthusiasm. There was an excellent response, mainly from young people. But there were also a great feedback when trained 40 or 50-year old women, who were seeing a computer for the first time in their lives.
So far, the Huaral programme promoters say the experience has been very positive, and are already planning on spreading the model among other farmers' organisations in Peru.
This is a pilot project, and organizations responsible are thinking of its replication in other places.
As another development worth of mention arose as a necessity of one of the localities included in the project, named Cuyo, a 50-family community with no electricity, it was necessary to build a mini hydroelectric system in order to generate 2kW worth of power for the computers, the communications equipment and the cabin lights.
1) FITEL Project documents
2) ?Wi-fi web reaches farmers in Peru?, by Roberto Belo, BBC News website technology reporter, BBC News world edition (Web), 15 December, 2004, 09:26 GMT