Anil Regmi, a Nepali national aged 24 with a B.S. in Electronics and Communication Engineering. I wanted to pursue a second degree that deals with people more directly, and I find the problems in agriculture more fascinating.
My interest lies in engineering, social media and computing and technology in emerging markets, particularly in agriculture, as well as crowd-based innovation. I have more than 2 years of experience in Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) field.
I am also interested in studying the impact of technology diffusion on individuals, families, and societies in economically challenged countries, and how the social and cultural dimensions of everyday life impact the adoption of technology.
Smart Krishi is a mobile app that serves as a platform for farmers and any citizens interested in agriculture to get information with a single touch. Using a Wi-Fi/3G connection, the app automatically syncs with the latest information in the Smart Krishi database.
In places with no internet connectivity the contents can be easily viewed in offline mode. This feature eliminates the need of having a 24-hour internet connection in technology-limited settings.
Farmers can send their location and can get location-specific information on crop and farming techniques. They can also tailor the app to follow and subscribe to the latest news and market prices of agricultural and horticultural products.
In addition, farmers can get connected with agro-experts via a discussion forum where their queries will be answered by agricultural experts.
The content of the app is moderated by a team of researchers in USA and Nepal, experienced farmers, agricultural experts and scientists.
Mr. Prakash Shrestha from Baglung district of Nepal is working in South Korea and wants to get back to his country to start a farm. With the money he has saved he wants to build a metal-framed greenhouse equipped with advanced technology such as drip Irrigation.
Mr. Dipak Bhusal, who has a goat farm in Arghakhanchi district, is having trouble selling his goats at a competitive price due to unfair practices of middle men.
Mr. Paras Katuwal runs an irrigation company that works with drip and micro-irrigation. He wants people to know about and adopt the drip irrigation system.
You may wonder what the common problem is among Mr. Prakash, Mr. Dipak and Mr. Paras. All of them lack a common platform for sharing technical knowledge and market price information. It is with aspirations to solve these agriculture-related problems in Nepal that we started exploring avenues to combine technology with agriculture, leading to the founding of Smart Krishi Nepal.
“Information and communication have always mattered in agriculture. Ever since people have grown crops, raised livestock, and caught fish, they have sought information from one another. Most [farmers] have long relied on a patchy network of local middlemen, a handful of progressive farmers, and local shop owners to receive decision-critical information, whose reliability, accuracy, and timeliness can have a critical impact on their decision making and therefore livelihood.”
-Amit Mehra et al., HuffingtonPost 2010
According to a recent study by the UNDP, the potential of agricultural growth to reduce poverty is four times greater than the potential of growth from other sectors. Nepal is a country where 66% of the population is dependent on agriculture. Nevertheless, agricultural products contribute a mere 39% to the GDP.
Effective ICT extension systems improve agricultural productivity by providing farmers with accurate information at low cost, helping them to optimize the use of resources.
It has already been a year since we launched the beta version of our app in Google Play store. Currently, the app has been downloaded 17,000 times and responses have been positively overwhelming.
We have also tried to leverage the power of social media. Social media networks such as Facebook and Instagram have provided us platforms to help answer some of the questions we have been receiving.
We are currently in the beta phase and our technical solutions are limited by financial constraints. We have a list of suggested features from hundreds of our users. This list includes but is not limited to:
- Redesigning user interface of the app and contents to address illiterate users in underdeveloped countries,
- Designing our API (application interface) services to automatically fetch the daily market price of agricultural products,
- An interactive discussion portal.
The project has proven that it is making its mark among farmers, their families and customers and it is leading to development of the overall agricultural information exchange ecosystem. Our goal is to have 50,000 farmers and other stakeholders using the application in the next 18 months, so that we can make a large impact. We aim to also scale out to other South Asian countries like India, Bangladesh and Bhutan since we share similar geographies.
As for sustainability, we have a business model. We will introduce a premium annual subscription package for a very low cost. We can put some agriculture-related ads in the app that might turn out to also be beneficial to users. A similar source of revenue could be providing push notification services to mass users.
The effectiveness of this project will be measured from both online (different social media campaigns) and offline (programs, events and interactions).
- Upgrade of current app in android and iOS app development: $1,500
- Incentives for content writer/contributor for one year: $1,500
- Annual maintenance: $500
- Awareness campaigns and trainings: $1,000
- Marketing and promotion cost: $500
Sharing information could solve a lot of issues for people involved in agriculture. Today, when genuine agro-information is a mere fingertip away, why not use it?
Blogpost and picture submitted by Anil Regmi (Nepal) – waytomeani[at]@gmail.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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