YAP Proposal #1: Mobile app for farmers (Abhijit Rai, India)

farmerspoint-001

I am Abhijit Rai and my age is 22. Iam currently in the final year of my undergraduate degree programme from Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University(BHU), Varanasi, U.P, India.

Now , to the question What is the project that i want to do? My project is very simple, this the age of technology and modernisation but the Indian farmer is still untouched by it. The extension method applied and practised today in India are not practical and old that have still not moved beyond self help group and cooperatives.

What today’s farmers need is all the information there is to be offered on their palm, by palm I mean on their smart phones and computer screens. Farmers need personalised and specific information which is not limited as cognizance of a individual extension worker who imparts the research information to Indian farmers as is the trend has his limits and does not possess all the information needed to answer a farmers query and contacts his superiors or research scientist to solve farmers problem which is time taking and still there is no guarantee that issue will be resolved.

So, I want to develop a mobile application by hiring software engineer from BHU Indian Institute Of Technology and feeding it all the data compiled by Agriculture academics that will be a one place stop for all the question that farmer may have. This mobile application will have compilation of all the agricultural research and meteorological data at the same time will provide highly site specific and personal interface to the problem of farmers.

At the time of registration in the application the farmer will be asked to provide information regarding his land area, place, state, along with the soil health card data of the farmer’s field as to know the nutrient concentration of the soil. This will also allow the application to pinpoint the place of farmer’s land thus allowing for the best possible meteorological forecast to the farmer directly.

By assessing the nutrient level of the soil at the same time taking into account the climate and terrain a number of best suited crops system, crop pattern and schemes can be recommended to the farmers. Crops recommended can be of any kind they may be agro-forestry, horticultural crops or in the combination of animal husbandry according to the research data available. Farmers will also be notified on regular basis of the new advancement in the field of agricultural sciences from around the world and also a group chat option where farmer can share their experience and help build up a community.

The main emphasis will be on providing the farmer a personal interface and allow him to choose the information that he desires and also help expand his mental horizon. India has its 50% workforce employed in agriculture sector with a tropical climate but the productivity of Indian farmland is poor, with the mobile application all the information in hand farmer will utilize the farmland more effectively to produce with least resource and increase the productivity and in turn increase in profit from farm and in turn will lead to a prosperous life for the poor marginal and sub-marginal farmers.

The success of the project or mobile application will be self evident from the number of times the application gets downloaded and application will also provide for a separate feedback form with set of 5-10 questions to judge the helpfulness of the application.

I would like to point out that as I am a student of agriculture and come from humble village/agriculture background I have the insight needed and I understand the basic problems and the roots of this problem as i have studied this problems through my entire curriculum and have real time experience with these problem and I can say that most of the problem being faced by the farmer in India is due to their deposition towards the traditional methods of agriculture rather than the most advanced method being researched and developed in the premier research institute all over India the reason for this is that the new methods are not very specific to the soil and micro climate surrounding the farmers field.

Government of India has initiated various extension programmes to address these issues but they are not effective enough. As one report of the World Bank given below highlights some of this factors and extension is at the heart of this. This has prompted me to think in this direction to fill this gap and as young blood of this India we owe this.

“Slow agricultural growth is a concern for policymakers as some two-thirds of India’s people depend on rural employment for a living. Current agricultural practices are neither economically nor environmentally sustainable and India’s yields for many agricultural commodities are low.
Poorly maintained irrigation systems and almost universal lack of good extension services are among the factors responsible. Farmers’ access to markets is hampered by poor roads, rudimentary market infrastructure, and excessive regulation.”

— World Bank: “India Country Overview 2008”

As of now I have already started talking to the various research scientist of different departments viz. agronomy, soil science, genetics etc and with my mentors right now studying in American universities and Indian universities have helped me collect data and have helped catalogue the crop according to soil attributed, climatic condition.

Along with comprehensive planting methods of various crops. Work is still under process and will require greater manpower than me alone but I am optimistic that it will surely get done.

If I am granted this some of $5000 the first step would be to hire intern from IITs with a senior experienced developer to develop the application. In the first phase we will try to keep it simple it will take minimum of 4-6 month and for the salaries of application developers $2000 will be fixed.
Second and most important job will be to collect the agricultural crop and allied data for which again people will have to be hired and paid for which $2000 will be fixed and this process of collection and cataloguing will continue simultaneously with application developing.
Third step would be the promotion of the application once it is ready and will be given to various farmers on pilot basis to check the technical parameters, viability and user interface will be diagnosed.
A sum of $500 will be for the miscellaneous expenses and $500 will be used for patent and application registration and promotion.

Hopefully the work will be completed within a year and result could be seen and examined to fix any bugs that may come up and even better the application and team will be required to monitor and run the application.

Blogpost and illustration submitted by Abhijit Rai (Varanasi, India) –theabhijitrai(at)gmail.com

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.


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6 thoughts on “YAP Proposal #1: Mobile app for farmers (Abhijit Rai, India)

  1. Hi Rai.. Congrats for this great idea. I glanced through its overview content and it sounds really pertinent.. thus i’ve got some queries:
    1- Which agricultural population class (urban, peri-urban or rural) shall have access to this innovative app? If all classes, does those living in rural communities have easy access to mobile phones (of good quality) to benefit from this App?
    2- In case this app is a success, which strategy shall you build up to render it sustainable at the national level (for a start, while thinking how it can be used worlwide)?

    For eventual suggestions, i do think that you need to review the budgetization because field agricultural data colection and cataloguing shall require a good and strong team who, for a start needs to be trained and/or capacity built on survey and data collection techniques to maximize feedback and results. thus more funds needs to be allocated on the practical aspect? what do you think?
    THANKS AGAIN FOR THE GOOD IDEA AND GOOD LUCK;;;

    1. Sir thanx for your query u asked a very important question…the app will focus mainly on rural population those who take agriculture as profession and with introduction of make in india initiative …we have companies that are selling smart phones at minimal price of $4 and this application will also tend to the needs of the urban population mainly providing information on kitchen gardening,rooftop farming etc and to answer your second query the app will not be able to function without an igflux of reliable and relevant research and for this application team will work closely with the governemnt agricultural instituition and application will evolve with time

  2. Hi Rai, great idea. Have you taken into consideration rural farmers who are not educated, how will they be able to handle this innovative app.

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