Farmers are rapidly upskilling in Information Technology
Charlie Devaney Teagasc Advisor Roscommon, encourages all farmers not to be afraid of change, to embrace technology and discover the benefits of accessing information and meetings online. Farmers and advisors alike are adapting to IT which has been accelerated through the Covid-19 lock-downs.
This is a topic that I never thought I would be writing about. When I started working way back in 1998 I was given a laptop that I didn’t even know how to turn on. All of our work was done on paper and all the different scheme applications were submitted on paper. I’m not the best with technology but through my work I’ve had no choice but to adapt. It is now the case that nearly all the different scheme applications have to be submitted online. More and more I see through my farmer clients that they are also being forced in this direction. Since Covid, I am starting to communicate with my clients more and more through e-mail, WhatsApp, text and other forms of IT.
In a study carried out by Roscommon leader partnership called ‘The realities of Rural Living’ the greatest area of interest for future training was IT. This was before Covid 19 was even heard of. If the same study was done now I’m sure it would even be greater.
With every crisis there are always positives. It has pushed us all into a digital world that a lot of us didn’t really want to go (me included). In rural areas it offers people the chance to work from home in certain cases. This can be of huge benefit to someone that wants to continue farming.
'Zoom' or 'Teams' are other words that we have become familiar with. During the first lockdown I participated on a number of zoom calls. I have to say it was an experience I did not enjoy. But in the last number of months I am beginning to appreciate the benefits of such technology. A lot of information is now delivered through these mediums. Presently all Teagasc events are being delivered via the web. The huge benefit I see is that you can participate in one of these events without leaving the house whereas previously it may have involved 4 to 5 hours of a round trip to get access to the same event or information.
Of course there are issues (the fear of change being one of them) but if we could get good broadband in all areas, then we may look back in the future and say that the benefits greatly outweigh the negatives.