Mobile application dealing with agricultural issues
At a vegetable collection center in RakamKarnali, Dailekh, Dambar Majhi is busy weighing vegetables brought by the farmers from different parts of the municipality - Tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, chilies among others are in the center now.
The center then pays the price of the vegetables to the farmers looking at the market rate.
“We only keep a slight margin to sell it to the vendors,” says Majhi.
“We, then upload all this information – the availability of vegetables and their types – in the smart cooperative app, and the vendors are notified through it.” Vegetable collection centers are facilitated by the cooperatives. Majhi is the manager of Bashundhara agriculture Cooperative Group.
Once the vendors know about the produces they then contact the collection center and either visit them or ask them to deliver vegetables as per the demand.
He believes that it has been a boon for the farmers those were visiting ‘from pillar to post’ to sell their vegetables.
“It was difficult to visit shop-to-shop to sell the vegetables carrying on the back,” says Narpata Thakulla of Bannigadhi Jayagadh Rural Municipality, Achham district. “And there were times I used to sell in a low price thinking I’d have to carry them back home.”
Like Sunar for many small farmers, market was the main issue. They used to struggle for the good price. “If you go to the shops asking whether they want vegetable or not, automatically they ask in low price,” says Narpata. “And you don’t have choice, rather than selling it in a low price.” Now they can grow as much as they can and do not worry about the market.
“We are here to buy all their vegetables,” says Majhi. “This has also lessened the unhealthy competition among the vendors.”
The Smart Cooperative App is a mobile based application for farmers who are involved in commercial vegetable farming and for the cooperatives which facilitate vegetable collection centres. The SmartCoopApp works at three levels in the market system. At the farmers’ level, this App provides farming and environmental information needed for optimal production. At the cooperative level, the cooperatives are able to update relevant information concerning harvesting time and on produce quantity which will then be accessed to the trader level who not only estimate the produce information but also negotiate a price for it.
“Then, based on traders’ demands, farmers can harvest and sell perishable crops following the calendar at optimum prices at the right time,” says Bidur Bastola, MEAL Manager at DCA.
“Similarly, farmers can reduce their production cost using fertilizer calculator available in the app. The farmers can insert the soil test report value into the app taking support from JTA and get the required fertilizer type and the amount for their field,” says Bastola. “As a result of this feature, the farmers can put only the required amount of fertilizer in their land instead of putting fertilizer without knowing their field soil requirement.”
The farmers also upload information about the production in the application by themselves, those able to use mobile application.
“Once we plant vegetables, we upload the information about how much land we planted cauliflower, cabbage or tomatoes,” says Sunder Thakulla, a commercial farmer in BannigadhiJayagadh Rural Municipality, Achham district.
“This helps the collection center, cooperatives and vendors know about the possible production of vegetables in the area.”
Educating through application
Nirajan Swar, JTO at Achham district says that the mobile application has been very effective for the farmers. “They can access information about fertilisers, and have idea about the status of their land- what grows in which land and in which month.”
They can check their mobile app and get information about the use of pesticides, and other rearing and caring techniques of their vegetables.
“Once they upload the information local vendors those having access to this application will know that which farmer has planted what kind of vegetables,” he says.
The cooperative and the collection centers are monitoring the application for now to know the production of the vegetables.
“The cooperative also calls the vendors and let them know about the crops/vegetables,” he says.
DCA through MDO in Achham and SOSEC in Dailekh have established twocollection centers and six sub collection centers where all the vegetables are collected and supplied to the market. Similarly, the collection centres were equipped with a weighing machine, smartphone, storage carate, chair in support of the project. The collection centre operators have also received training about how to feed information into the SMART Copp app as well as know about the information about the vegetables harvested in the leader farmers field.
Projection of vegetable production
For local authorities esp. agriculture offices looking at the information uploaded in the application gives a general idea about the projection of total production in the area.
“This can help the agriculture office to prepare for the kind of support farmers may be needing during the production of different crops and vegetables,” says Swar.
He added that there are cases when these authorities visit the field of the farmers to see the production and provide technical support.
Though there are 465 users in these two districts. The main challenge is internet access.
“In the lack of proper access to internet in these remote hilly reason some of us are having difficulties to use the application promptly,” says Sunder.
However, he reiterates that the app has been boon for the farmers those struggling to find a best buyer of their produces.
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