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Applying New Tools in Fight Against Poverty

Information and communications technology (ICT) may offer rural residents the chance to overcome poverty, and these applications require support from the government and international cooperation.

Wu Hequan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that ICT service development is a complex problem, presenting both practical and policy challenges, especially in some poor rural areas in China.

"The Chinese Government has placed much effort in promoting the establishment of information systems in rural areas as one of the key ways to fight poverty," said Wu at the International Seminar and Exhibition on ICT Applications for the Agriculture and Rural Industry and Agro-based Enterprise Development held yesterday in Beijing.

To date, some governmental departments and research institutes, including the Rural and Social Development Department of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology,State Information Center, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization Sciences, are jointly formulating a general scheme for information system construction in rural China and some trial bases have been set up.

"China may draw (on the) experiences of other developing nations on ICT popularization in the agriculture industry, and we are striving to accelerate the international co-operation on it," said Dr Tapio Juokslahti, director of the United Nations Asian and Pacific Center for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery (UNAPCAEM).

UNAPCAEM is a new subsidiary body of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, which has 53 member countries and nine associate members.

Set up in November 2002, the organization is engaged in providing policy advice, capacity-building, technology transfer and information networking to member countries through human resources development as well as development and promotion of cost-effective agricultural machinery and engineering practices, as well as agro-based enterprise development.

Wu pointed out that the solutions that work in developed countries cannot be transplanted in China, still a developing country, and must be adapted to local needs and conditions.

(China Daily April 7, 2004)

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