New Delhi: India’s agriculture yields are low not because improved practices do not exist, but because many farmers are unaware of them, or don’t have easy access to such knowledge. To bridge this gap between farmers, technology and better agro-practices, a mobile application, AgriApp, is providing farmers direct access to the latest scientific information and tools that may help them improve their agro-outcomes.
AgriApp was the finalist for the mBillionth Award organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation 2017 in the category of agriculture and environment.
This mobile platform provides easy, fast and accurate access to information and knowledge related to the agriculture sector. It not only provides detailed information on crop production, yield protection, and market information, but also functions as an online market place for bringing in farmers, retailers, agro-professionals and expects, and fulfilment services to a common digital platform.
The Android-based application, developed by AgriApp Technologies Pvt. Ltd, allows farmers to explore the latest trends in agriculture; informs them about methodologies involved in selecting and understanding of soil health and specific crops based on the environmental parameters; provides comprehensive information on crop protection; and advises on managing plants against diseases, weeds and other pests.
Basavaraj Girennavar, managing director, AgriApp Technologies, says the inspiration for creating the application was to arm the farming community with latest agrarian science, practices, and a direct online market space. “The gap between technology and agriculture sector, which is leading to less returns for investment, inspired us to develop AgriApp that will help to make India a digital agricultural hub," he says.
Besides sharing the up-to-date scientific information related to agriculture, the platform provides current market price for the crops, latest subsidies and other facilities sponsored by the government, and also recommendations, solutions and suggestions from the agro-expert.
AgriApp comes with two main functions—services and m-commerce. Under its service feature, the application provides four utilities—package of practices (POP); chat with expert; videos; and news. The POP service contains information on 83 different kinds of crops, right from sowing till harvesting to pest and diseases control etc. Chat with expert allows users to contact crop expert scientists directly through text messages or phone calls. Girennavar says users can also provide any multimedia file to the scientists, who then analyse the farmer’s queries and give solutions along with recommendations.
Through the videos, the users can access some 93 videos about crop cultivation, animal husbandry, farming using new instruments and machines and innovative agricultural ideas. This helps farmers understand agricultural evolution and new technologies. The news section publishes news relevant to agriculture, agro-technology and the market.
The m-commerce functions like an e-commerce kart that allows users to buy products online directly. It has over 600-odd products of top brands of agro chemicals and fertilizers. User can buy any product in any quantity either by paying cash on delivery or online.
For greater outreach, the company uses social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus to registered mobile numbers of farmers. It also shares information in several languages, something that has been received positively by the farming community.
“Implementing these tools have led us to increase the number of downloads to 220,205 within a shorter time frame," Girennavar says.
Despite the success of the application, Girennavar says, the firm has been facing several challenges that include the lack of financial support to scale up; non-existence of digital infrastructures for end-users and user limitation with low educational and technology exposure.
“We still haven’t overcome all the challenges but are thinking to address them through certain percentage of users who are already familiar with it," he adds.
The firm now plans to fix price fluctuation issues of agricultural produce by predicting market price; deliver relevant content on “need basis" for each of the farmers; and connect and create a market place for organic products, with information on the origin and outcome of products with organic certification.
Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation, which hosts the Manthan and mBillionth awards.