Data on 103,000 cows updated in real time and accessible over a regular dial-up connection can be of great assistance to Estonian farmers, according to Ivari Padar, the minister of agriculture. "The program, targeted at dairy farmers, stock breeders and advisers, would help to analyze the herd and its development," he added.
After registration at the Web site www.reg.agri.ee, a user should download an application for connecting to a database that includes cow-related information, from the concentration of carbamide in the milk to registration numbers and nicknames. The program can also calculate the value of each animal.
With the help of the Estonian government, farmers are rapidly getting acquainted with computer technology. Some 2,100 people and 350 organizations involved in the agricultural sector purchased a PC last year at a special reduced price. The Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce hopes to sell 500 more computers by Feb. 10.
Toomas Murulo, director of the Agricultural Registration and Information Center, said that many farmers had computers before the state program, but it was an important coincidence that Vissu was launched at approximately the same time, last year.
"The Web site will be one of the central services at a new agricultural Internet portal to be launched within one month," said Padar.
The portal will help farmers to keep in touch with the latest agricultural developments, including European Union information.
Developed with the help of Estonian milk producers within three years and first launched in January 2000, Vissu boasted 275 subscribers as of Jan. 31, 2001, although according to preliminary estimates by Murulo, the number of potential users should rise to 1,000.
The number of private farms has been growing in Estonia since 1996 and totaled 51,081 last year.
Specialists from the center regularly carry out Vissu training courses. According to Murulo, many of the users need to get more acquainted with Internet surfing.
Registered users submit information on milking their herd once a month, although other data can be updated in real time. Data on milking results lets the farmer compare commercially important indexes like the concentration of fat or protein in the milk.
"And what is measured can also be improved," said Murulo.