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Designing Internet Dynamic Presences in Low Tech Rural Environments: A Case Study

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 697-704 in Proceedings of the World Congress of Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources (13-15, March 2002, Iguacu Falls, Brazil)  701P0301.(doi:10.13031/2013.8400)
Authors:   M. Castro Neto, L. Mira da Silva and P. Aguiar Pinto
Keywords:   Computer/IT Strategies, Internet Applications, Information Delivery Systems

Nowadays the use of the new information and communication technologies is crucial to obtain a competitive advantage in the global market. Although with some delay, also the agricultural sector is entering this on-line world, but the speed at which that happens and the level of ICT adoption is greatly different between countries and between regions in the same country.

Among the reasons believed to be responsible for that behaviour are capital and know-how characteristics, which are crucial in the case of the Portuguese agriculture. In fact, recent results from the 1999 agricultural census show an average farmer with a low level of instruction and a very small farm size.

In the course of a project to improve the management of a large irrigation scheme in the Alentejo region of Portugal we were faced with the necessity of developing an Internet information system for the farmers association responsible for that infrastructure. This on-line information system should integrate institutional information with real time usage indicators resident in a relational database developed in the course of the project and allow for public and private access, since some information should only be available for the farmer to whom it concerns. It should also have low development and management costs and be usable and administered by people with no knowledge of Web development.

This paper presents the architecture of the information system developed to answer the needs of the farmers association. The solution found was to develop a web site supported by a relational database that allowed for both static and dynamic pages to co-exist in the same site. It allowed also to provide a friendly back-office interface where the farmers association organisation could directly manage the content of the online supporting database and also synchronise it with the local management software developed in the course of the project.

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