Manila, June 23, 2023—In celebration of National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Month, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched three community internet networks in Butuan City that enabled more than 600 farmers to access the internet for the first time.
On June 1, in partnership with Kacific Broadband Satellites and local internet service provider Stellarsat Solutions, Inc., USAID deployed three satellite terminals valued at Php 355,000 ($6,700) to benefit the members of the KM7 Farmers Producers Cooperative (KFPC) in Sitio Kauswagan, Sitio San Roque, and Sitio Tud-ol in Butuan City.
“The internet will allow our farmer members to access information, participate in online training, and communicate with other members of the cooperative,” said KFPC Chairman Samuel Calawigan, Jr. “We thank USAID and other partners for this opportunity, and we commit to give our very best to make this project successful and sustainable.”
KFPC is a multipurpose cooperative with more than 2,000 member farmers, mostly former rebels and members of indigenous communities producing rice, vegetables, corn, banana, and cacao. The cooperative consolidates and markets the farm produce of 13 cluster associations across the region.
“Without connectivity, many of our projects would not be successful and inclusive,” said Butuan City Vice Mayor Lawrence Lemuel Fortun. “It is important for us to ensure that all communities, including cooperatives such as KFPC, will be able to take part in our development projects. We are eager to work with USAID for the replication of community networks in other areas across Butuan City.”
Under its five-year, Php 1.65 billion ($33 million) Better Access and Connectivity (BEACON) program, USAID and its partners have established five community internet networks in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas across the country, with the first two launched earlier this year in the provinces of Quezon and Aurora. USAID will continue collaborating with its partners to deploy community networks that will address the connectivity needs of other unserved and underserved communities throughout the country.