Work is under way to prepare the rules of allocation of EU subsidies for sustainable growth in 2014-2020. This also concerns Rural Areas Development Programme (Program Rozwoju Obszarów Wiejskich), this time focusing on increasing computer literacy and internet access in the Polish countryside.
Knowledge and communication come first
In the period of 2014-2020, the National Association of Farmers, Farmers’ Circles and Organizations is planning to work towards commonplace digital inclusion in the countryside, promoting the use of computers and gaining computer skills. Association’s proposals and demands submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development include projects connected with developing apps facilitating cooperation with trade exchanges, and institutions like the Agency for Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture (ARMA) or the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS), and launching online programs for management of a rural enterprise and supporting the work of sołectwa, the smallest administrative units in the countryside. Another initiative concerns creating an online database for farmers, providing information about law, marketing, education and employment.
Following the German example
At present as many as 71.1% of households in the countryside have at least one computer, with 67.8% of those having internet access as well. The high proportion of farms which remain offline is explained by little need to use it, inadequate competences for internet use and the cost of internet connections. Although IT equipment is becoming more available (also thanks to smartphones and tablet computers sold by mobile operators) and the offer of internet providers is becoming more attractive, the Polish countryside has a long way to go until it is truly online.
We ought to follow the German example. Our Western neighbors are preparing a program of providing fast (at least 50 Mb/s) internet connection in every household. The total cost of the venture for the the federal budget is expected to reach c. 20 billion euro by 2018.