Microsoft training program empowers farmers and reduces poverty in Indonesia.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bojonegoro — Suhar, 28, a peanut farmer likes to show off the new cell phone he bought two months ago. He could afford to buy the cell phone after he reaped significant profit from his peanut farm using a management and production method based on knowledge Suhar obtained from the Internet.

Suhar said his profit had been soaring since he adopted new production techniques and management principles he acquired from an information technology training held by PT Microsoft Indonesia last year. “This cell phone is evidence that the information technology has helped me acquire more profit. My net revenue was Rp 400,000 before I adopted the new management and production techniques, but now it is Rp 4 million a month,” said Suhar.

The training program is aimed at empowering local farmers to benefit from the latest technology with the long-term goal of alleviating poverty in Indonesia.

In addition to equipment and facilities, two instructors will be assigned to train and guide trainees in computer literacy in an area where the program is conducted.

Microsoft first developed the information technology-based program, called Unlimited Potential (UP), by working together with non-governmental organizations to accomplish a long-term training program by establishing the Community Training and Learning Center (CTLC) in October, 2003.

Each CTLC will be provided with modern equipment made available to the farmers and their family members. They can obtain wide access to information, exchange ideas among fellow farmers and enhance their knowledge of information technology. There are 30,000 people in Indonesia who benefit from the presence of 28 CTLCs across the country located in Banda Aceh, Jambi, Medan, Mataram, Makassar, Denpasar, Pontianak, Sukabumi and Bojonegoro, among other places.

Suhar gained knowledge on farming techniques in accordance with market demand from the training he received at the Garis Tepi CTLC in Bojonegoro.

Previously, Suhar and a number of peanut farmers in Manukan village, Bojonegoro, had cultivated the three and four-pea peanut, the quality of which was considered good, but was not in demand, resulting in little profit, while some farmers had even incurred losses.

After he received Internet training from Microsoft in early 2004, he obtained information on the high demand for two-pea peanuts on the market.

He continued searching for extra information on two-pea peanut cultivation, and finally shifted from planting three and four-pea peanuts to the two-pea variety.

To market the peanuts, Suhar, with the help of the two instructors at the CTLC, posted himself on one of the Websites, and eventually secured buyers from Pati, Central Java, and Jember in East Java. “I am better off now. I can set aside some of the profit from the peanut sales to put in the bank,” he said.

Suhar is not the only person in Bojonegoro who has benefited from the IT training program organized by Microsoft, but other farmers, including school students and women have also gained from the program.

Rusmianto, a young man in Bojonegoro, hopes to set up a small business after completing his training at the CTLC. The 20-year-old man who has only completed elementary school, hopes to open a greeting card printing business in Bojonegoro.

PT Microsoft Indonesia’s public relations manager, Cynthia Iskandar, said that her company would continue developing the program and set up more CTLCs.

Source: Jakarta Post (link opens in a new window)