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Gildernew launches Tyrone rural IT project

27 July, 2010

Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has launched the ‘Camowen Farmers are IT’ project during a tour of the computer facilities at the Milestone Centre in Carrickmore, County Tyrone.

The project is targeted at low-paid workers in the Carrickmore and surrounding areas and will provide computer / ICT courses such as CLAIT and ECDL at the Milestone Centre in conjunction with the South West College Outreach services. The investment is a roll out of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) Anti Poverty and Social Exclusion Rural Challenge Programme which is awarding £416,000 to 90 voluntary and community based organisations. The funding enables local groups to implement projects aimed at tackling poverty and promoting greater inclusion in their local area.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister said: “It is becoming increasingly important that everyone in society has a good grasp of the web and some expertise in maximising online services for day to day life. Many of DARD’s services are now online and the day will come that this may well be the primary route for farmers to seek assistance or to submit applications, requests or farm business information. APHIS is a good example of this in action and it is very encouraging that APHIS has been such a success.

“I am proud of the range of online services that DARD offer and I continue to encourage as many farmers as possible to avail of this technology. The web offers a degree of 24/7 flexibility that is impossible in any other method of service delivery. Doing business online is faster, is available 24 hours per day and, because of the validation built into the systems, there is much less chance of errors.”

She continued: “It gives me great pleasure to see so many of the 90 projects funded through the Rural Challenge Programme get up and running. It is anticipated that 12,000 rural people will benefit either directly or indirectly from these projects. Locally based Projects like ‘Camowen Farmers are IT’ are key in terms of addressing rural poverty and social exclusion issues. I hope that this project with my Department’s assistance achieves its’ full potential in the Carrickmore area.

"The current level of IT uptake across the north is lower than I would like to see and it is only through working on individual projects at grassroots level that we can begin to change this culture. I recognise that many farmers may still lack the confidence, skills and funds to adopt new technologies and conduct their business in this way. There is nothing to fear from increasing your IT skills and the benefits far outweigh any disadvantage.”

In conclusion, she added: “I wish Camowen farmers all the best with their impressive IT training project and I hope others will follow their example and get more farmers and rural dwellers online.”

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