Data shows that from 18,924 registered clients in March 2015, it jumped to 27,883 as of March 31, 2016.
PTC is a digital platform that provides daily consultation services to rice farmers through call and short messaging services (SMS). It also caters to students, extension workers, researchers, and other stakeholders who are inclined to the rice industry.
The PTC management considers this a milestone which went far from just less than a hundred registered clients in 2004 when it started its operations. PTC was initially launched as the Farmers’ Text Center (FTC) by the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture (OPAPA).
In 2015, PTC also received an average of 240 SMS per day. Other services it renders are monthly rice tips, weather advisories, promotions, and announcements.
“By responding to the farmers’ queries, we give them informed decisions in their farming practices. We regularly receive positive feedback and it overwhelms us,” said Fredierick Saludez, agriculturist and PTC’s main agent.
Saludez reported that top queries are on seed quality and varietal information, pest management, seed availability, and nutrient management.
“Salamat po sa mga tips, maganda po ani ko ngayon (Thank you for the rice tips, I got bountiful harvest),” said Sanny Huelva, farmer-client from Masbate.
By sending keywords, for instance Rc222, farmers can instantly receive characteristics of rice varieties such as yield, maturity period, reaction to pests, and eating quality.
Top 10 provinces with most “texters” come from Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan and Isabela. Rounding off the list are the provinces of Agusan Del Norte, Oriental Mindoro, Northern Samar, and Leyte.
PTC was established due to the popularity and economical cost of text messaging in the Philippines in early 2000. Another rationale for its establishment is to complement the existing agricultural extension services and link farmers to experts and inform them of the new rice production technologies.
“The rise in the number of texters implies that our clients perceive the platform useful for their purpose. We highly encourage our partners in the agricultural sector to continue promoting the PTC to make rice information more accessible to farmers especially those who have little or no access to these information,” said Myriam G. Layaoen, head of the PhilRice’s Development Communication Division.
Meanwhile, the PTC team is looking at tapping national telecommunication companies to introduce upgrade in systems and facilities to further improve the delivery of PTC services.
“We are now exploring the possibility of partnering with TelCos to provide us with technical advice on system upgrades and eventually help us reach their client base through mass text messaging,” Layaoen added.
To register, just type REG<space>NAME<space>LOCATION<space>OCCUPATION (e.g. REG JUAN DELA CRUZ LEYTE FARMER) and send to 0920 911 1398.