Farmers require multiple types of information and knowledge. These include but not limited to information on diseases, fertilizer, seeds and weather. Knowledge and information are currently provided through multiple means. These include call centers, mobile-based applications, media, seminars, workshops, field visits by extension workers, messages through farmer associations and notices.
In Sri Lanka, a considerable amount of information relevant to farmers is held within the different departments and Ministries, including but not limited the agriculture Ministry and the meteorological department. As such the information is often disseminated through diffused means. Furthermore a substantial portion of this information and knowledge is not in computer readable formats. For an example, the Department of Agriculture of the Government of Sri Lanka operates a call center referred to as 1920 (a telephone short code). The service has been in operation since 2006 and has a system in place, which allows the operators to digitally capture the details of queries. The operators use research material (in paper-based form) provided by the government agriculture research institutes to provide solutions to the callers.
The proposed project component hopes to identify various types of data that are available in the public sector, both digitized and not, and relevant to the agriculture sector. The project hopes to bring together the sources of the identified data to build consensus on making the data publically available. A mobile app will be provided to a group of farmers to assess the impact of making data publically available. The backend data of the mobile app, such as number of downloads, content downloaded, geographical locations of downloads etc. will also be analysed.
The project key points are outlined below:
- Identify the available data that are relevant to agriculture sector and map the data to the relevant institutions.
- Identify crops that suffer from quality issues through the use of existing data.
- Digitize information/data and knowledge (residing both within government institutions, private sector institutions; both published and unpublished; research material as well as ‘know how’ that is passed on verbally) pertaining to the above-identified crops.
- Document the process of obtaining the data, with a particular focus on the process of obtaining the government data.
- Create mobile based app to access the digitised knowledge and information; pilot test the app and make improvements
- Conduct survey of farmers to assess the impact of the above
- Disseminate findings to policy makers and industry stakeholders.
Full proposal can be found here.