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Department Surveys Computer Usage

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, is pleased to announce that a survey of farmers' computer usage will be conducted in February 2010.  The survey titled "Computer Usage Survey - What can computers do for you?" is being carried out by Dublin City University on behalf of the Committee for the Uptake of IT in Agriculture (CUITA) and forms part of the work of the committee to identify the barriers and obstacles to uptake of Information Technology in agricultural and rural communities.

The advances being made in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) mean that these technologies are being used more and more in everyday life to communicate with others and to access information.  Increasingly, these technologies are making it easier for people who use them to deal with various organisations without having to leave their homes, including a wide range of Government Departments/Agencies.  Rural dwellers, including  farmers, are  among those who have the most to gain from the convenience of using these technologies given their distance to many amenities (for example banks) relative to their urban counterparts.

The Committee, which reports to the Minister, includes representatives of the main farming organisations, the agrifood industry and agricultural education, and has as its primary objective the task of accelerating the adoption of ICT by the farming sector and rural families.  It has examined the agriculture and rural ICT environment in general and looked at the various sectors where ICT is being used well and also where it is under-utilised.  A significant block of work of the committee involved identifying and examining the barriers that currently prevent the uptake of ICT and also to identify opportunities to promote awareness of the benefits of technology use.  There is limited research available on this specific area, and focusing this research on the obstacles to uptake and the factors most likely to underpin greater uptake will provide valuable information to guide the work of the committee.

With this in mind a survey has been compiled and is being issued to approximately 1,200 farmers.  The study is being carried out under the direction of Dr. Regina Connolly of Dublin City University and will also be available online at http://www.dcu.ie/dcubs/taf.php3

The Minister has asked farmers who receive this survey in the post to complete it and return it to the Department.

Date Released: 03 February 2010