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[April 28, 2009]


HANOI, Apr 28, 2009 (AsiaPulse via COMTEX) -- Microsoft Vietnam LLC and Nghe An Tate & Lyle (NAT&L) Sugar Cane factory met on Thursday and declared the initial stage of their automatic short messaging system (SMS) pilot project a success.

The pilot project sponsored by Microsoft began this past February at the NAT&L sugar cane factory. Instead of having farmers come to the company's representative offices or making phone calls to give and receive information, the usage of mobile phone text messages has been introduced to improve efficiency. The project aims to improve collaboration between factory and farmers, help farmers minimise their risk, reduce communication costs and improve the productivity and efficiency of both factory and farmers.

"The SMS usage idea comes from Microsoft's Unlimited Potential program, which aims to fill the IT gap between country-dwellers and city-dwellers in Vietnam in order to improve their living standard", said B Rimes Mortimer, GM Strategic Alliance, Microsoft Corporation.

Approximately 25,000 households spread out over six districts in the northwest of Nghe An Province grow and supply cane to the NAT&L company. Via SMS, farmers have been receiving information regarding the harvesting timetable, accounts receivable, transport timetable and the information about vehicles ID.

Every two minutes from November to April, a truck carrying 10-12 tonnes of cane rolls into the factory. This represents an enormous amount of harvesting and transport co-ordination between factory and farmers to meet production goals.

In a survey given to 200 group leaders and farmers, who have directly used the SMS application in harvesting and transporting processes between cane fields and the factory, the results were quite positive. Out of the group leaders, 95 per cent saw benefits already from the new communication method, and 100 per cent of farmers were in support.

The general consensus in the survey was that using SMS has helped group leaders and farmers get information from the factory conveniently and easily. Every 7 of 10 said that the service exceeded their expectations. Ninty-eight per cent of the interviewees said that they would continue to use this service.

Hoang Van Dung, a sugar cane grower, said that with the support of this SMS system, he was able to be much more proactive in arranging his work, harvesting plan and transportation with less time and effort than before.

NAT&Ls general director, Michael Goonew Ardene said:" We are always concerned about the efficiency of our business and are happy we decided to co-operate with Microsoft to improve it." "The first success of the pilot project at Nghe An Sugar Cane factory has opened opportunities to apply SMS in many other circumstances such as collecting and distributing agricultural products price information, informing farmers of environmental and disease information (storm forecast, areas under impact of poultry flu epidemic)," said Mortimer.

In addition, SMS is also now being used in an e-Government program to enhance the communication flow between state officials and farmers about policies, regulations, and for the government to answer peoples question, according to Mortimer.


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