CHAIRPERSON : Subrata Gupta, Chief General Manager, Department of Financial Inclusion & Banking Technology (DFIBT), NABARD
Anirban Mukerji, Senior Manager-Wireless reach, Qualcomm
Shalini Kala, Consultant, International Trade and Development
JURY EXPERT & MODERATOR : Sunny Sharma, Co-Founder & CEO, Foetron
The session manager, Mr Ravi from DEF introduced the chairperson, panelist, jury expert and moderator to the audience. Later, Ravi handed over the session to Sunny Sharma (Jury expert & Moderator) who then discussed the session’s agenda with the audience.
The panel’s chairperson Subrata Gupta, chief manager, department of financial inclusion and banking technology (DFIBT), NABARD started off by discussing how the mobile phone has managed to create waves in rural markets. Based on various data reports, Gupta mentioned that small basic functional mobile sets or feature phones are highly preferred in rural markets. He urged for more mobile-based innovations to help farmers. He said Indian farmers needed mobile applications for banking services to get a good grip on their business transactions.
Panelist Anirban Mukherji, Senior manager- Wireless reach, Qualcomm expanded the discussion by pointing out the need to have mobile applications to assist fishermen. He said it can really boost the business revenues of small fishermen who are generally deprived of any sort of technological aid. This fishermen App must assist them in informing them swiftly about weather conditions and alert them about international water boundaries.
Panelist Shalini Kala, Consultant, International Trade and Development talked about her expertise and experience in education field. She said it’s her passion to work for the betterment of rural farmers. She emphasized on the significance of knowledge of connectivity.
Jury Expert & Moderator Sunny Sharma, Co-founder & CEO, Foetron said that the need of hour is to save natural resources and use them in an optimum way. He suggested innovators to achieve more with less resources.
The audience was also shown a video from NABARD, the session’s official sponsor.
The first presenter Edvin K. Varghese, Co-founder & Director, Farmmobi Technologies Pvt Ltd, said the app Mandi Trades aims to empower farmers with the current information about government schemes and policies. The App not only helps in boosting business but also reduces agriculture wastage and even transportation costs. It also helps in cracking fast business deals by creating an interface between farmers and traders. The App provides tips for farmers to increase the shelf-life of agriculture products. The Mandi Trades App is likely to upgrade and will have features to calculate freshness of products, thermal imaging and contact details of buyers and sellers.
In the Q&A that followed, Shalini Kala about the trust deficit between buyers and farmers. The presenters claimed that first a sample of order is sent to traders and once they are satisfied with the quality, full order is dispatched to them and similarly payment to farmers is also released.
Anirban Mukherji asked the Mandi Trades App team about their business model. The presenters explained that the App is a problem solving solution and has no commercial angle to it. The entire purpose of the App is to connect farmers to the real world through technology. The App will help them to understand markets and current rates for different crops and seeds.
The second presenter Bankimchandra L. Radadiya, Director of IT, Navsari University presented details of the free App Kisan Mitra which is at present an android based mobile application. The App has been developed completely in the native language (Gujarati).The App supports farm to land initiative. The App works on offline model. The farmers can easily access information related to agricultural crops and practices. The App has so far seen more than 10,000 downloads and has got a 4.5 average rating on Google Play Store. The App is intended to fulfill the need of the farming community in the area of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and other emerging agricultural initiatives.
The third presenter Mridul Chowdhury, CEO, mPower social enterprises explained the features of the App Livestock Management. The App enables organizations to use digitalized data from the field for targeted and timely decision making. It also assists community based entrepreneurs to serve as mobile technology empowered service providers with remote support of experts. The App helps in countering issues in Bangladesh such as scarcity of practicing veterinarians to deliver service, expert services being too expensive for marginalized farmers, improper record keeping of livestock husbandry procedures, and lack of expert advice during emergency situations. The App has so far enabled 2700 cattle rearing farmers to receive information on livestock services and around 24 livestock workers are active in 5 districts of Bangladesh.
In the Q&A that followed Subrata Gupta of NABARD asked if livestock management is only restricted to cattle management. Chowdhury said they are working on building an expert team to provide expert services in poultry farming as well in the future. Gupta also asked how the livestock workers are given training. Chowdhury said that they hire staff who have prior experience and are already livestock workers.