There was a time when a program called “Junior Technical Assistant (JTA) and Old Lady” dispensed advice on farming and agriculture to farmers across the nation in a dramatized way. The program, broadcast by Radio Nepal, was a source of acquiring information about farming and livestock for them.
However, advances in information and technology have been changing the way farmers obtain information about farming. Smart phones are taking on the role of mediators, thanks to innovative software applications that run on smart phones and fall in the prices of mobiles.
Farmers these days increasingly rely on mobile apps to know about farming technologies, livestock, pest, weather, market price and even prospective buyers.
“Mobile can be used to gather information on farming apart from regular conversation. Even though information can be acquired easily, people still lack adequate knowledge about many farming related issues,” said Gyan Bahadur Thapa, a farmer of Panchkhal.
The trend of using mobiles for exchanging and sharing information on farming began with the practice of sending and receiving text messages.
“Neighboring country India has already introduced various policies to lure farmers to use mobiles for information sharing. Indian farmers are said to be way ahead in all kinds of information,” said Bikash Pant, treasurer of Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), Kavre.
But in Nepal there is no system that allows mobile service providers to disseminate information on farming using national script or any other popular languages.
Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) and Agriculture Management Information System (AMIS), under the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD), among other government organizations, are working to increase the access of farmers to mobile apps.
PACT has recently developed three different kinds of apps which allow field verification of sub-projects, monitoring and checking details of subsidized sub-projects via GPS in mobiles. Information on list of farmers, who have received subsidies, can also be accessed through these apps.
Likewise, AMIS has developed an app under a project of the World Bank and plans to distribute mobile phones with M-agriculture installation to selected village development committees (VDCs), farmer groups and communities.
Sandeep Mandal, 25, of Maisthan, Mahottari district says that mobile technology has been helping him learn modern ways of papaya farming. With the use of internet he has been cultivation the fruit in 10 bighas of land. (Republica)
“Information will be provided through experts from Nepal Agricultural Research Council on farming and livestock,” said Dr. Damodhar Parajuli, Joint Secretary at the MoAD.
The MoAD is implementing its plan in various 25 districts which are vulnerable to climate change impacts. This program has already been started in Dhankuta, Sunsari, Siraha, Bara, Kavre, Rupandehi, Banke and Jumla.
“We are taking this program to various 30 farming groups that are based in different topography,” informed Tharka Bahadur GC, an official at District Agriculture Office.
Similarly, an organization is also helping 500 farmers in three VDCs to use information technology through a project called “Climate Smart Village.”
Farmers are given useful information about farming technologies, livestock and market price, among others, via IFA mobile app.
Pant, the treasurer of CAN, shared that both government and non-government organizations are equally excited about the use of mobile technologies for farming.
Currently, smart agriculture, Krishi Ghar and IFA are popular apps widely downloaded by farmers.
However, software developers don’t seem to be giving adequate importance to livestock farming. For example, there are very few apps that provide information on poultry farming.
“Billions have been invested in poultry farming and thousands of people are employed in this field,” informed Dayaram Mahat, secretary at Nepal Poultry Entrepreneurs Forum (NPEF).
He said that developers should come up with useful poultry farming apps as soon as possible.
Nepali agriculture apps
This app was developed under a project supported by the World Bank. Farmers in the districts where the AMIS project has been implemented are given mobiles with M-agriculture app installed in them. Information on farming and livestock, among others, can be found in this app.
Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) app allow field verification of sub-projects, monitoring and checking details of subsidized sub-projects via GPS in mobiles. Information on list of farmers who have received subsidies can also be accessed through this app.
This mobile app was developed by IT students. Information about market price for farmers in Banepa, Manthali, Khurkot, Sindhuli and Kathmandu can be accessed through this app. Market price about crops like paddy and wheat including 30 other types of agricultural products can be found in this app.
Krishi ghar app
This app provides appropriate information about agricultural crops and production. Once this app is installed, the system allows obtaining information about one’s district and area. Information about specific crop is also available in this app while contact number, email addresses and websites of offices working under livestock are available in this app.
Smart agriculture app
This app contains information more than any other apps developed till date. It provides information about commercializing agriculture, market price including other genres like success stories, agriculture library, buying and selling, organizations helping for agriculture, farming training and job opportunities. Information on pig farming is also available in this app.