Agricultural sector is the pillar of our economy. It provides the raw materials to down the line industries and helps in poverty alleviation. According to the Economic Survey 2015-16, agriculture sector contributed 19.8% in GDP and it remains by far the largest employer, absorbing 42.3 percent of the country’s total labor force.
Despite being the most important sector, Pakistan’s agriculture sector is facing many problems and is in dire need of improvements. Both government & private sectors are working on agriculture research & development. But still Pakistani farmers are way behind the average and potential revenue.
m-Agriculture An emerging field to Revive Agriculture in Pakistan
The main reason behind the deficient agricultural sector is that research information is restricted within the four walls of agricultural research stations. Also, there is lack of linkages between research & agricultural extension.
Agriculture sector contributed 19.8% in GDP and it remains by far the largest employer, absorbing 42.3 percent of the country’s total labor force
Therefore, the government should be very focused on improving agricultural productivity. By employing different techniques to increase crops yield, enhance profitability of the farming community. Improve competitiveness and ensure the environmental sustainability of agriculture.
All of which is not possible without systematic application of better inputs and advanced technology. One such revolution is Mobile agriculture (m-agriculture). It is about bringing mobile information admittance to rural communities and small-hold farmers. While the notion is still in its initial stages, early executions recommend that it can make a huge difference.
With the support of m-agriculture, rural societies will become capable to have access to the latest information and techniques regarding agriculture
With the support of m-agriculture, rural societies will be capable to have access to the latest information and techniques regarding agriculture. Pakistan’s agriculture community consists of small farmers who are facing limitations in their day to day farming practices. It has resulted in lower per yield level than what is required to cater the nutritional needs of the population. Thus, m-agriculture can be an important medium to educate them which otherwise is difficult to attain.
The main reason behind the deficient agricultural sector is that research information is restricted within the four walls of agricultural research stations, also, there is lack of linkages between research & agricultural extension
The access of 3G and 4G technology has now opened up many possibilities for farmers and local traders in terms of access to useful information. With the increased smartphone penetration and mobile application development, farmers can now be better informed about modern agricultural techniques and trends, as well as timely information about commodity and financial markets, to empower them.
Investment in easy-to-access m-agriculture apps can play a great role in improving the qualitative and quantitative outputs of the industry. Such initiatives are already being taken to improve the access of information to local farmers in Pakistan through the help of foreign aid organizations.
More local initiatives in the development of mobile apps are offering quick and easier access of information to farmers in local languages that have made significant improvement on the currently available resources.
Telenor Pakistan is the leading operator of Pakistan that is working aggressively in creating a digital society in Pakistan. It has also taken up an initiative to improve the agriculture sector and has introduced Khushal Zamindar mobile agriculture service. This service strives to endow farming households by improving access to well-timed and actionable information for viable impact through better yields.
Mobile apps are offering quicker and easier access to information to farmers in local languages that have made significant improvement on the currently available resources
The service offers access to agricultural advisory information and news through IVR that are sent via SMS or OBD alerts that inform the user twice a day. Another initiative regarding m-agriculture is Bakhabar Kisaan. It a project of both Pakistan NARC and Switch Communication Pvt. Ltd. Switch Communication Pvt. Ltd has generated a platform for farmers which would be reachable over the Telecom Medium by every farmer of Pakistan.
By the help of this platform farmers will have access to the modern farming techniques, cures of diseases, amount of fertilizer to be used for a specific crop and all other information which is required by farmers to surge the yield and productivity.
Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) has also played an important role in the advancement of m-Agriculture. It has developed an app AgriSmart for effective agricultural developments. Whereas, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority is also quite active in instilling smart technology in the country.
Its Smart-Pakistan initiative is aimed at offering one stop depository and manual of mobile applications. Concentrating on various thematic areas such as mEducation, mHealth, mGovernment, mAgriculture, etc. It offers an easy to use platform where a manipulator can search for applications related to their requirements.
Being an agrarian country, developments in agriculture are of monumental importance. Therefore m-agriculture is an area which should be facilitated by the government and private sector should also be encouraged to invest in it.
This will not only increase the agricultural yield of the country. But it will also attract enough private sector solutions to deliver the potential value to the local farmers.
Hence, such initiatives are suitable for the development of agriculture sector. And such technological intervention will help farmers to a greater degree. If this pace continues, soon our country will enter the list of progressive countries in the region.
Smart-Pakistan initiative is aimed at offering one stop depository of mobile applications related to mEducation, mHealth, mGovernment and mAgriculture