The Agri-Tech Experts: Bridging the Gap between Farmers and Technology

Sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Rakhine Yoma mountain range, Rakhine State is one of Myanmar’s least developed areas. Communities there are confronted by a number of serious challenges, including malnutrition, poverty, conflict, weak infrastructure and susceptibility to extreme weather events. The majority of Rakhine’s population are reliant on subsistence agriculture. More than half of the rural population in this region are landless and dependent on casual labour for employment and income.

At the end of 2014, the international NGO Adam Smith International worked with the Government of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on a project that first identified and then designed solutions to these challenges. The Rakhine Winter Crops Project (RWCP) is an ambitious programme to facilitate crop diversification, increased production and improved agricultural water management for the dry season in order to increase farmer incomes, employment and food security.

As part of the project, RWCP collated paper-based order forms from farmers, inputted these into an Excel spreadsheet, aggregated orders and then placed orders either with inputs suppliers in Yangon or with local agro-dealers. Unfortunately, farmers are not always literate or numerate, while local agro-dealers do not have computers and are not literate in programmes like Excel.

RWCP needed to find an alternative way of automating the agro-inputs ordering system to make ordering as simple and efficient as possible for farmers and agro-dealers, while also reducing the risk of error inherent in paper-based systems. Green Way, the mobile agriculture application by Greenovator, was an ideal digital platform to help. Using existing features on the Green Way app, Greenovator was able to create an input calculator that automatically calculates required inputs to help both farmers and agro-dealers in their businesses. The calculator is accessible to the RWCP farmers on the free Green Way app that they can simply download from the Google Play store.

The input calculator was launched in September 2019 with great success. Calculations that used to take RWCP farmers over two hours to complete manually now takes less than 6 minutes using the Green Way app’s input calculator. Farmers simply need to input their data into the app and the input calculator does the math, giving consistent and accurate information to both the farmers and agro-dealers. With just one mobile tool, farmers and agro-dealers have more time back in their day to focus on the rest of their businesses.

Written by: Kristi Baron

Date: Oct 2019

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