Engaging and scaling mobile services for agriculture

The Problem

There has been countless studies, researches, workshops and seminars that has yielded valuable information in the sector of Agriculture. But, a young agro entrepreneur in a remote village of Nepal is clueless about all these researches and findings as he has no any idea about accessing them despite having a smart phone and a good internet connection. On top of that, the findings and statistics are hieroglyphic as a commoner would have no proper skills to understand it. Furthermore, challenges lies due to lack of skilled manpower and also as there is low adoption of technologies and mechanization, the jobs are not lucrative or attractive for young aspiring population.

Solution & Approach Taken

GeoKRISHI believes that developing innovative tools is not just enough. It is important to attract our youth by convincing them that farming is trending and connect with them to bridge the gap between science and traditional farming practices.

The number of smartphone user’s trajectory is looking even steeper and internet penetration in remote villages has almost quadrupled over the last couple of years and this upward trend looks to continue in future. In an era of information and communication technologies, we found that farmers often get confused with overwhelming information. They lack the tools to filter out irrelevant information and contextualize information. In such cases, extension workers and local youth champions play an important role in delivering and providing better “recommendation” to the small-holder farmers. Geospatial solutions and location intelligence not only leverages all decision-making, it improves efficiency of scientific research. This give us immense opportunity to contextualize (e.g. urban/rural municipality, ward, community or farm level) information and enable location based information services that were previously out of reach.

So, what we do is bridge the void between these people with precise data and instructions via simple and effortless interactive mobile application. We help them to plan, monitor and harvest their bear fruit via our App with rightful amount of information to tackle every kind of hurdles they may face in the process.

GeoKRISHI leverages on integrated framework that incorporates geographical information system (GIS), earth observations, statistical data and digital infrastructure that enable context-specific and timely location based information services through right channels – mobile, web and field representatives.

The internet based crop advisories essentially constitute information in relation to weather forecast, crop production, best farming practices, suitable crops, seed information, market prices, fertilizers, early warnings on drought and precipitation, education and upcoming training opportunities, plant and veterinary disease detection and prevention, financing and insurance services. These advisories emerge from large network of partners including agronomists, governmental systems, research institutes, universities, and extension services. They provide an extensive information and knowledge on: historical patterns and processes of local cropping systems, real time information on crop health, weather forecasts, crop sown area, crop vigor, drought probabilities, soil fertility, river flows, irrigation, market systems, supplies and distribution which also includes the cost of productions and probable earnings.

Journey so far

Our journey so far has been tough with an all-encompassing challenges but it has galvanized and influenced us to work even harder and smarter.

We first approached the agriculture experts in early 2017 while studying the status of agricultural data to make farming more efficient. These experts were from the government, universities, development agencies, association and I/NGOs in Nepal. We also surveyed and consulted these experts to find details of ‘crop chart’ and understand how it can be contextualized and how we can provide location specific information to the farmers, where we can draw lessons, use those cases to illustrate. Soon we realized that we can locally develop simple and affordable tools to address this problem.

Photo 2: Which and what information is more important while we are learning from farmer themselves.
Photo 3. Co-designing exercises through games and materials used to help understand importance of agriculture information services.

During the testing phase, we contemplated on what “innovation” meant and how the tools should be built in the most innovative way in order to have an effective management and strategic execution. When we tested our ideas to enable data-driven information services in agriculture sector with fifty-farmers, five cooperatives and other relevant stakeholders, we found that the demand for internet based agro-advisory is profound among service providers, extension workers and even within farmers’ communities.

In Conclusion

We call out for collaboration and partnership in the context of content generation and documenting best approaches and promote research findings to wider audience in easy readable formats. Similarly, technical partnership to enable integrated solutions and R&D/innovation in more meaningful way. Likewise, network of service provider and individual to increase their understanding of scientific reasoning and empower to evaluate evidence based recommendation practices and increase their loyalty among service seeker. Join us to build a sustainable and high yielding agricultural practices via Geo enable ICT Tools.