India’s farmers turn to mobile apps

Government of India has launched several android apps for farmers. The applications aim to provide information about the latest agriculture trends, equipment, technologies and methods being used. The android apps for farmers can be downloaded from the official website or from the Google play store.

Indian users comprise about 30% of the total volume of the global feature phone market, making it the second largest in the specified field. In 2015, India had 720 million mobile phone users, out of which 320 million were rural mobile phone users. This estimate also included 50 million Smartphone users with access to internet. According to ‘The Rising Connected Consumer in Rural India’, a study by the Boston Consulting Group, this share of rural India will jump to 48% by 2020 . Steps taken by the Indian government recently may make this happen sooner than predicted. Digital India, launched in 2015 by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aims towards the promotion of digital literacy and creation of digital infrastructure for empowering rural communities. Considering that 58% of rural households depend on agriculture as one of their most eminent source of livelihood, the role of Digital Agriculture needs to be considered within Digital India.

The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to support the transmission of localized information and services working towards making farming socially, economically and environmentally sustainable, while contributing to the delivery of nutritious and economical food for all – this comprises Digital Agriculture. This has also led to the rise and development of mobile apps which are helping existing government schemes, and other agriculture-based information to reach farmers in rural India. This digital change is acting as a game-changer for Indian agricultural conditions.

An increasing number of startups and tech companies are teaming up with the government to introduce mobile apps for farmers in India. Given the vital role played by agriculture in the country’s economy with over 58 % of rural households depending on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood, this trend will help farmers make informed decisions and help increase agricultural produce.

Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in India. A Boston Consulting Group study says that by 2020, about 315 million Indians living in rural areas will be connected to the Internet, compared to 120 million at present. In semi-urban and rural areas, there is a huge potential telecom user base that needs relevant and affordable content, connectivity and 4G devices.

With a pickup in the Internet usage and increase in smartphone penetration in rural areas, farmers have been able to make use of the Internet to research on farming solutions. The government along with various companies and NGOs have introduced mobile applications for farmers that provide real-time data about weather, local markets, seeds, fertilizers among other things. In addition, farmers can also interact and get guidance from agriculture experts across the country via the apps.

These next generation farming apps are being adopted by farmers in India to overcome various issues which will enable them to make informed farming decisions, ultimately impacting their yield. With Internet connectivity getting affordable by the day and the reach expanding to even the remotest areas of the country, these apps will witness widespread adoption in 2017, boosting the agriculture sector.

The government has launched two mobile phone applications that will enable farmers get information related to crop insurance and prices of agri-commodities in different mandis or markets cross the country. The AgriMarket Mobile App and Crop Insurance Mobile App have been developed by the in-house IT division of the Agriculture Ministry and can be downloaded from the Google Store or mKisan portal.

The government spends a significant amount in extending crop insurance to farmers. Due to administrative and technical reasons, much of the information related to crop insurance has not been able to reach farmers in time to take advantage of the existing schemes. The mobile app will provide complete details of crop insurance. Farmers can get information related to crop insurance cover available, and also calculate the premium for notified crops based on area, coverage amount and loan amount.

Farmers can also get details of normal sum insured, extended sum insured and subsidy information of any notified crop in any notified area.

The app has been developed with an aim to keep farmers abreast of crop prices and discourage them to go for distress sale. Farmers can get information related to prices of crops in markets within 50 km of their own device location using the AgriMarket Mobile App. The app automatically captures the location of the farmers using mobile GPS and fetches the market prices of crops in markets which fall within the range of 50 km.

There is another option to get price of any market and any crop in case farmers do not want to use GPS feature and the apps are available in English and Hindi.

Another app, SmartAgri, developed by Vijayaragavan Viswanathan, a scientist with the European Organization for Nuclear Research, communicates with underground sensors to deliver easy-to-understand data, such as soil moisture and mineral levels, to farmers’ mobile devices.

There are other companies following suit. For instance, Jayalaxmi Agro Tech has created an app to equip farmers with crop-specific information using audiovisual tools. Mandi Trades lists government crop price updates, important information for farmers in remote villages; Rainbow Agri connects local buyers and sellers; and mPower Social offers simple veterinary advice for cattle owners.

Microsoft, in partnership with the government of Andhra Pradesh has launched a mobile application launched that tells farmers in the state which week is perfect for sowing seeds, the health of their soil and other indicators. The app was developed by a local agricultural research institute.

The increase in mobile apps catering to the agriculture sector will, in the long run, not only increase bottomlines but help the rural masses bridge the digital divide and use technology to grow their agriculture-based businesses.

Kisan Suvidha App
Kisan Suvidha is a compilation mobile app developed to help farmers by providing relevant information to them quickly. With a click, they can get the weather information of current day and next 5 days, dealers, market prices, agro advisories, plant protection, Integrated Pest Management Practices etc.,

Unique features like extreme weather alerts and market prices of commodity in nearest area and the maximum price in state as well as India have been added to empower farmers in the best possible manner.

Farmers often struggle for basic information like weather updates, crop prices and expert advice, ending up often relying on hearsays. Kisan Suvidha—launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will prove helpful for farmers in this regard but they must own a smartphone, the only barrier. The app is likely to have many takers as India is second largest smartphone market in the world with 87 million mobile Internet users in rural areas.

AgriMarket App
AgriMarket Mobile App can be used to get the market price of crops from the markets within 50 km of the device’s location. This app automatically captures the location of person using mobile GPS and fetches the market prices of crops in those markets which fall within the range of 50 km. There is another option to get price of any market and any crop in case person does not want to use GPS location. The prevailing prices are fetched from the AgriMarket portal.

Farmers offer suffers price losses by distress selling. This may be due to poor access of market information. With this App, They can take an informed decision based on market information about the ongoing prices near to them. They can decide to which market they should take their produce for sale. This App has been developed with an aim to keep them abreast with crop prices around them.

Crop Insurance App
Crop Insurance mobile app can be used to find out complete details about insurance cover available. It also helps to calculate the Insurance Premium for notified crops based on area, coverage amount and loan amount in case of a loanee farmer. It can also be used to get details of normal sum insured, extended sum insured, premium details and subsidy information of any notified crop in any notified area.

Due to administrative and technical reasons, much of information related to Insurance doesn’t reach farmers well in time to take advantage of insurance schemes. This App helps to provide timely details about insurance in an user friendly manner.

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