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Digitalization of Agriculture from the Perspective of Small-scale Food Producers

Published at জুলাই ২৭, ২০২৩

The context of Bangladesh agriculture, the sector can be viewed through two distinct dimensions: traditional farmers producing for subsistence and self-employment, and agripreneurs focused on commercial agricultural activities. There are approximately 17.2 million small-scale Farmer, and they are categorized into:

  • Field Crops Growers
  • Vegetable Growers
  • Poultry Farmers
  • Aquaculture Farmers
  • Cottage Dairy Producers
  • And Agripreneurs

Digital Communications:
In many cases, our position in agricultural production is better but productivity-wise we need to improve significantly.

Both public and private sectors have been actively engaged in addressing this issue and it turns out, there’s a big yield gap between the lab and the farmer’s field. This is mainly due to lack of appropriate communication on time and the resulting lack of Farmer’s confidence.

People from the government and private sectors want to resolve this matter urgently however, it takes a long time, due to appropriate extension workers and lack of communication tools.

Through digital invention this problem can solve systemically, The first step to connecting them digitally is by establishing digital communication with them. Bangladesh’s internet usage grew seven-fold from 6.7% in 2013 to 43.6% in 2023, with mobile phone adoption at an impressive 97.9% of households, and 63.3% using smartphones and Mobile Data Internet Users 113.73 Mn. Mobile apps and social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and IMO can play crucial roles in communication, extension services, guiding practices, and connecting farmers with customers.

Interestingly ACI Agribusiness has 4 different applications since 2018, to connect with targeted farmers and provide digital solutions to them.

Fosholi aspires to be a one-stop solution containing all the relevant agricultural information about all the major crops of Bangladesh. Through the Fosholi platform, farmers can get advisory services regarding crop sustainability, agronomic practices, pest and disease alerts, agriculture input details, weather forecasts, market information, and customized notification.

Apart from this, We have Rupali apps for fishery and aqua farming, Khamari apps for dairy and cattle farming, and Sonali poultry farmers.

Technology & Mechanization
Now, I would like to share several examples of smart agriculture practices that are already in use or being introduced, such as precision farming, drip irrigation, hydroponics, greenhouses, vertical farming, and farm mechanization with robotic technologies. These innovations optimize crop growth, conserve resources, water usage, and harvesting, ensuring a sustainable and efficient future.

Such as, with Yanmar Combine Harvester’s yield sensor, crop yield measurement becomes feasible, and its Smart Assist Remote (SAR) allows for accurate land plot measurement.

Cattle and Dairy farming
In Bangladesh, our agricultural practices have evolved significantly. Cattle and Dairy farming now benefit from smart milking, Livestock Remote monitoring, and automated feeding. Also, ACI has introduced “Pet ICU” for the first time in Bangladesh.

Fisheries and Aqua Farming
In Fisheries and Aqua Farming, we implement automated feeding and advanced fish tracking, paddle wheel aerator, including smart fish feeders that can reduce feed loss by 15-20%. In Bangladesh, a large number of aqua farmers utilize test kits.

Poultry:
Most of the poultry integrators in Bangladesh are using robots for vaccinations supplied by ACI. Also, Laser measurers are used for accurate assessment, and smart weight scales for monitoring. Numerous tech service providers are active throughout the country in this sector.

Contract Growers and Digital Buying-Selling Solutions:
Domestic and multinational companies in Bangladesh and also Shwapno have direct communication with contract growers.

Development Areas: However, to provide different digital services to small-scale farmers, following things must be ensured. For example:

  • Ensure smartphones are readily accessible to them.
  • Provide widespread mobile internet service to enhance digital connectivity.
  • Expand IoT-based agricultural services for improved efficiency.
  • New technologies, including drone, should be introduced at the marginal level by creating service providers.

With these innovations, we’re creating a sustainable and efficient future for agriculture in Bangladesh.

Author, Dr. F.H. Ansery, President, ACI Agribusiness.

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