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March 13, 2018

Smartphones for farmers to improve economy: minister


March 13, 2018

LAHORE: The distribution of AgTech smartphones among farmers is a revolutionary step of the Punjab government, which will benefit and strengthen the economy through growth in agriculture products.

This was stated by Provincial Finance Minister Dr Ayesha Ghous Pasha while addressing the launch of smartphone apps developed by Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) for Punjab Agriculture Department here Monday.

Addressing the event, PITB chairman Dr Umar Saif said that launching a technology-enabled platform to give small (mostly landless) farmers loans, subsidies, location-targeted advice on yield growth, pesticides, fertiliser, seeds using smartphones has proved that AgTech revolution has reached Pakistan. Out of the 16,911 farmers given smartphones and apps in the initial phase, 14,523 (85%) use our apps every day — 77.39% in Urdu, 13.92% in Punjabi and 8.69% in Saraiki. Our apps have been used 663,596 times to date, he informed.

He added that the platform would reduce the chances of middleman’s exploitation, corruption, delays and would ensure required assistance and advice to the farmers in real time. The information gathered in the system includes demographics, contact details, crops, landholding patterns, livestock, irrigation system and mechanisation.

This initiative has resulted in appropriate allocation of schemes to the right farmers, ease in broadcasting message to larger mass and the creation of a centralised database. The salient features of 10 mobile applications include Onboarding/Tutorial to welcome the newly-registered farmers and verify their credentials, weather alerts to show the forecasts based on the latitude and longitude of the farmer’s location for five days, crop calendar to provide crop specific advisories, educate farmers about new technologies, methods and techniques related to various crops, video on demand to primarily serve the needs of farmers whose mobile literacy is low, expert opinion to talk to an expert, crop yield calculator to allow farmers to calculate the approximate cost of seeding, fertiliser and pesticide usage and crop yield based on their land size and crop type, Mandi app to connect farmers with potential buyers and to use EasyPaisa Mobile Wallets for payments, supply chain tracking to help farmers to browse, compare and buy various farm supplies such as fertilisers, seeds and pesticide from their mobile phones, agriculture subsidy to enable farmers to redeem subsidies given through various types of tokens (e.g. Potash Fertilizer Subsidy) through this app and Hyperspectral Imagery to capture satellite imagery of land and check the health of the crop, soil moisture, pest information and then using the above mentioned parameters to recommend remedial measures.

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