According to the World Bank, the Asian region supports the food demands of 60 percent of the global population by using just 23 percent of the world’s agricultural land. Due to an increasing population and decreasing land mass, the role of technology in agriculture is key.
This is where the booming start up scene in Southeast Asia could come in handy for farmers. Some developers have seen the potential of using mobile app technology as a means to revolutionize the agricultural sector by creating apps specifically for it. These apps have the potential to help farmers utilise and maximise their limited resources for a better yield of crops.
In Myanmar, the agricultural sector accounts for some 28 percent of the country's GDP, but yields are low due to farmers being cut-off from modern technology under the previous regime for decades. Farmers in Myanmar are still among the country's poorest. A 2017 World Bank study found that farmers in some areas of the country still earn as little as US$2 per day. Compared to other rice-yielding nations in the region, rice paddy generation is also low in Myanmar at 23kg a day as opposed to Cambodia (62kg), Vietnam (429kg), and Thailand (547kg) respectively, a 2016 World Bank report stated.
Most people in Myanmar, including farmers have smartphones. The country today has a smartphone penetration rate of 80 percent and app developers have been quick to create apps for everything ranging from healthcare to Myanmar's parliament.
One game-changer among agricultural apps is the ‘Green Way’ app which was launched in 2016. The app provides farmers with up-to-date information on everything from weather and climate change to crop prices and advice on pesticides and fertilisers. There is also a chat feature on the app that allows farmers to connect with each other, allowing the exchange of information. There are also tips, as well as the availability of experts on hand to answer additional queries.
The ‘Green Way’ app was created by two former agricultural students.
“Green Way is my dream to link farmers and experts. The farmers can get help whenever they need," said Yin Yin Phyu, co-founder of the app to AFP.
It took the two entrepreneurs five years to develop the farmer-friendly app. In order to maximise its potential, the farmer’s needs, behaviours as well as farming conditions were studied closely. The application's main goal was to make it user-friendly to farmers, as they are “…a community that is afraid to use this type of technology for fear of it being too complicated,” she added.
Currently, there are more than 70,000 downloads of this app by Myanmar’s farmers.
Another app that’s helping farmers in Myanmar be more productive is Impact Terra’s ‘Golden Paddy.’ The Golden Paddy platform has three channels to connect and engage with farmers across Myanmar - a mobile application, a web application and a Facebook page.
20 Feb, 2018 theaseanpost