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    Date submitted
  • 26-Feb-2014

ICT For Agriculture

Abstract

Nepal is an agricultural country with 12 million people (source FAO) engaged in agriculture as their main income source. BUT, about 60% of them cannot produce enough crops to feed themselves for the whole year, according to the Nepal census 2011. They farm primitively and ineffectively. One of the biggest market problems faced by the farmers is an information gap; they lack information on how to farm effectively and maximize their returns.

ICT For Agriculture (IFA) is a web and mobile platform i.e. combination of a) android application Krishi Guru and b) web platforms www.admint.ict4agri.com and www.kinmel.ict4agri.com.

IFA fills the gaps in access to critical information need by providing precise and localized information on crop advisory, introduction and availability of input supplies, on demand enquiries, weather forecast in pre-harvest and the market price information (with analytics) in the post-harvest period; through SMS and Mobile platform. Also, IFA as a platform connects the farmer to their localized extension agencies, input suppliers, market traders and agricultural expert. The localized content in local Nepali language helps the farmer make timely, action oriented decisions on their farms. The platform also aims to benefit the Agri Input companies in selling their wide range of products and services through our app and help Extension Agencies spend less effort and money connecting to farmers.

The current weather forecast service is from Accuweather.com and Department of Hydrology and Meterology. Discussion is going on to bring the Weather Forecast Company called Earth Network based in US to Nepal and install forecasting infrastructures in partnership with telcos. After that we shall be able to deliver more reliable forecast. The agriculture advisories are sourced by our Agriculture Experts of our company from National Agriculture Research Council, a government body of Nepal.

The overall impact goal of this platform is to improve the livelihood of small holder farmers by equipping them with technology and knowledge to improve yields, provide reliable markets, manage their risks and achieve a more sustainable, food-secure future.

For our Business Model to work, it is critical that we have a sufficiently large farmer base who subscribes the agriculture content.

Farmers that are the key beneficiaries who haven’t been charged any price at this moment. The NGOs/INGOs and Government Extension agencies are paying the cost of information deliver on behalf of farmers. At present, discussion is going on with Axiata Ncell, a biggest private led telco in Nepal to collaborate so as to provide required information to farmers and share revenue with each other. Farmer will be able to choose basic package (free of cost) or premium package (with some premium services that needs to be subscribed). Special packages will be created for women, ethnic minorities and lower caste groups. The major income for the platform is generated from input supplier companies in lieu of using the web platform www.kinmel.ict4agri.com to features their products and services. Extension Agencies can now generate contents, advisories and notices for free but they will be charged minimal amount later when the platform goes in the phase of liquidity. Partnership with telecoms to sell their voice and data can generate extra revenue. Hence the platform is affordable to a wide range of users.

Farmers, traders, extension agencies, newly elected local government bodies, input suppliers, farmer cooperatives are different types of stakeholder in agriculture value chain and since all these stakeholders need a common platform to share unit values and benefit from each other, IFA is a promising platform that ensures scalability.

IFA platform follows most applicable digital principles to ensure the protection of user identity and data security. We collect minimum data of users like name and contact information with prior consent of users (while location is automatically tracked) and analyses the user interest to ensure that the content is consistently relevant and specific to particular locations, dates, and land types. To maintain sustainability of our impact, IFA focuses to promote climate smart agriculture practices like use of home- made bio pesticides instead of chemical fertilizers, optimum use of water resources, collection of rain or waste water in plastic ponds, reducing green-house gas emissions from agriculture etc. Moreover, we as a business can only sustain if we keep sending relevant information that matters to the life of the farmers.

To summarize, IFA is a viable data driven agriculture solution to help farmers and the associated value chain in Nepal.

Video

Original Slideshare URL: Open

Introduction Video

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

-Farmer -Extension Agencies (NGOs/INGOs/Government organisations working in agriculture sector) -Input Suppliers

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

It is a fact that Nepal is an agricultural country with 12 million people engaged in agriculture as their main income source. BUT, about 60% of them cannot produce enough crops to feed themselves for the whole year, according to the Nepal census 2011. They farm primitively and ineffectively. One of the biggest market problems faced by the farmer is an information gap: they lack information on how to farm effectively and maximize their returns. Similarly, there are over 7000 cooperatives, more than 100 INGOs and thousands of NGOs working in agriculture sector for the benefit of the farmers. Because of limited budget, it has not been possible for these extension agencies to connect each and every farmer through field staffs, hence creating a communication gap amongst them. There are over 50 national level input suppliers and thousands of local agents that supply fertilizers, seeds, animal feeds, and machinery equipment. Each of them face a slightly different difficulty; they are facing a hard time to market their product and services to these farmers because majority of farmers are small holders who are farming primitively and are less aware about modern input supplies. While majority of population in Nepal are seeking critical agriculture information, which is only practically feasible with digital solution, large information industries have not been established in such a large agriculture sector. In such a scenario, our solution platform, ICT For Agriculture (IFA) connects the farmer to overall value chain and farming communities. With the help of our solution, farmers can plan farming activities in advance, manage the farm effectively to yield more and healthy crops, get good rates of produced crops and vegetables, make informed decision on selecting markets to sell at, get information on input supplies like seeds, fertilizers, get information on government schemes and opportunities and guide fellow farmers on farming related activities. The platform also aims to benefit the Agri Input companies in selling their wide range of products and services through our app and help Extension Agencies spend less effort and money connecting to farmers. The overall impact goal of this platform is to improve the livelihood of small holder farmers by equipping them with technology and knowledge to improve yields, provide reliable markets, manage their risks and achieve a more sustainable, food-secure future.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

ICT for Agriculture (IFA) has potential to be successful and hence scale due to the following attributes: i) The most important feature of the platform is that is creates value to the end users. To farmers, it provides localized crop advisories, weather forecast, market price and input supplies availability in local language. Farmers can connect to experts, traders, input suppliers and fellow farmers. While input suppliers can market their product and services to targeted farmers and increase sales. Extension agencies working in agriculture sector can maintain communication with low cost and time. Hence, the feature of the platform as a place to create and share value for mutual benefits of different actors of agriculture value chain will make it successful. i) IFA platform creates space for local extension agencies to communicate with farmers. Specially, IFA wants to target local farmer cooperatives which are more than 7000 in number, the newly elected government local bodies are 744, Agriculture NGOs which number almost 1000 across Nepal. These extension agencies can have direct communication with farmers. Hence, the user acquisition will grow by creating value to such farmer related organization. ii) The product can reach to wider mass of end users by tying up with telecoms. As telecoms wants to focus farmer for brand loyalty and through that increase their mobile data user share from rural parts, interest of telecoms has been felt. For this reason, there has been different levels of interactions between IFA and Ncell Axiata to come up with ‘Farmer Phone’ where Ncell Axiata brings special data package in their farmer focus sim card for browsing our app bundled in smartphone to be marketed as ‘Farmer Phone’. This way, telcos can earn brand revenue. iii) Partnership opportunities that we have had, and will continue to have, with Farmer related organizations are further proof that IFA can be scaled. To give an example, Nepal Cardamom Entrepreneurs Association has been feeding the daily price of Large Cardamom that is accessible to cardamom farmers via SMS and Mobile application. We are preparing brochures to be distributed to every district chapters of the association and then to farmers so that they can access the daily cardamom price from one channel. We will be strengthening our partnership with other organizations like Computer Association of Nepal, Fruits and Vegetable Entrepreneurs Association, Nepal Chambers of Commerce and Industries, National youth council, Insurance companies and Input supplier companies in coming days to reach farmers. iv) The solution is also available in SMS for majority of farmers having simple featured phones. v) The back-end of the platform is designed for flexibility to be scaled in other countries except Nepal. Similarly the platform is user friendly All these attributes are not only unique in terms of market landscape in Nepal but also the expected solution to farmers and actors along agriculture value chain. This gives us lot of hope of its success.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

To make this platform successful, we consider the following points: i) Increasing the organization capacity and skilled human resource to provide quality service ii) Maintaining the quality in information we disseminate ensuring that they are localized, relevant and context-specific so that farmer and other user can take actionable decision. iii) Tying up with Telcos to roll out the platform service to mass number of end-users iv) Partnership with agriculture related organizations and associations to reach the farmers. v) Branding and marketing of the Platform vi) Continuous Research and Development creating user friendly updates in the platform. There are few solutions in the markets who are trying to solve the information gap in agriculture sector. Some are magazines and some are mobile applications. The few mobile application that exist focus only on commercial production technology. But our solution provides many other important features on top of commercial production technology like weather forecast, market prices, use and availability of input supplies, on demand inquiry and its immediate solution, market analytics etc. While majority of farmer carry simple feature phone, our solution has SMS technology to get crop advisories, weather forecast and market price. We are the oldest and experienced company working in data driven farming technology in Nepal. Apart from this, due to the impacts that we have created, we have been featured many times in national Medias and also have won some prestigious national and international prizes. We have a close tie-up with telcos for partnership. And we have provided service to number of prestigious INGOs working in livelihood sector in Nepal. We are exceptional in terms of our service quality, our brand and future possibilities. This gives us advantage over other few emerging new solutions in the market