Covid-19 has impacted our economy badly. It has not only hit the secondary and tertiary sector, but also the ambitious dream of our Government to double the farmers’ income by 2020. Farmers are not only segments or a sector but they are the ray of hope in this COVID-19 pandemic. Because for every citizen whether they are staying at home, walking miles to reach home, working day and night to treat their patients, Food is the utmost necessity for their survival. Hence, every grain produced by farmers is equal to gold. When the first lockdown was announced on 23rd March most people rushed to markets to store the food grains as it is the most essential thing which we need for staying alive at home for a long period of time.
A shift of Indian Economy:
Uttam Krishi, Madhyam Vyapar aur kanistha naukri (Supreme is farming, mediocre is a trade and most lowly is service), this ancient philosophy of Indian economy is no more relevant now. Gandhi’s saying still proves true that ‘India lives in villages. Because agriculture is still the primary source of livelihood for about 58 percent of India’s population. The contribution of the agriculture and allied sectors is 17.1%, the industry sector is 29.6% and the service sector is 54.3% (2016-17). Growth in Gross Value Added (GVA) by agriculture and allied sectors stood at 2.1 percent in FY 2019-20 (Indian agriculture and allied industries report, March 2020). Barclays report (2014) had estimated that 35% of the urban population could contribute 70%-75% of Indian GDP by 2020. Probably, it is not possible due to COVID-19. The policy of the government has never been towards the majority population, which could contribute much more to the Indian economy.
Indian agriculture has three seasons for cultivation; Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid, which starts with June- July and ends with May- June respectively. During this Covid-19 situation, Indian agriculture suffers from following adverse conditions. Problems during lockdown are a shortage of labour for harvesting Kharif crops as migrant workers are going back to their respective places. And local workers are not ready to come outside of their houses for work. Another big problem which farmers come across is the unavailability of agriculture Inputs like seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, etc. due to lockdown and the reason behind this is the absence of proper marketing channels. At the same time, other problems faced by farmers during the lockdown is the selling of perishable products as every market was closed. In India, there are lots of online marketing platforms available that are used to sell as well as purchase agricultural commodities. But then what is the problem? why farmers are not using these platforms? so, reason behind this maybe is that these platforms are not easily accessible and much complex to use and so farmers may think that selling agriculture produce in the direct market is easier compared to the online market. But we need something which will enable farmers to connect themselves with digital marketing. So, this network can be used in an unpredictable situation like a pandemic for online agricultural trading.
There are many existing online portals that provide a platform where various mobile applications connect with farmers which bring farming communities together and help them in selling, buying, and exchanging agriculture commodities and services locally without middlemen through online mode. Mobile applications like-
DHAN MANDI (CROP MARKET)
AGRIBUZZ — AGRIAPP
DIGITAL MANDI INDIA
GRAM SEVA: KISAN (MANDI PRICES)
MANDI TRADAGRI MARKET E-NAM(Government)
are being used by the farmers. Due to the coming of these mobile applications, the role of the middle man gets reduced in the trading process which brings transparency to this process as everything happens online. On the other hand, it has also reduced the time as well as the load from the busy shoulders of farmers as this application provides access to farmers from anywhere whenever they want at any time.
The government under the ministry of agriculture launched its own applications called E-NAM (National Agriculture Market) in 2016 linking agricultural produce market committees (APMCs) across all states in online mode. A study reveals that there are 585 and are currently connected with the portal. e-NAM would soon expand to cover an additional 415 mandis, taking the total number to 1,000, said Narendra Singh Tomar, the Union minister for agriculture and farmers’ welfare, on April 2. The same remark was, however, made by former agriculture minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawar in the Rajya Sabha on 4 January 2019. This means no new mandis were added to the portal between January 2019 to March 2020.
“There are 6,946 regulated wholesale mandis (APMC markets) in the country as on 31.03.2018. So far, as per the target, 585 mandis of 16 States and 02 Union Territories have been integrated with the e-NAM platform,” the government said in reply to a question in parliament. That means only 8.42 percent of the total mandis were connected through the e-NAM platform. From this, it can be estimated how long it can take to connect 415 mandis to the e-NAM platform. Approximately 16.6 million farmers, 127,963 traders, and 70,904 commission agents joined the e-NAM platform, Tomar said in parliament on March 6, 2020. More than 16.4 million
farmers registered on e-NAM till June 30, 2019, according to the government. Only 200,000 farmers, thus, joined the platform in the past nine months. There were 263.1 million agricultural workers in the country, of which 118.9 million were farmers and 144.3 million were agricultural laborers, according to the 2011 census. Only 14 percent of these farmers were able to connect with e-NAM, going by this data. What the remaining 86 percent of the farmers will do in the lockdown to sell their product is a matter of concern for the government now.
Then the question arises why 86% of remaining farmers ate not using this online portal. If we took those reasons then we will come to know that this online platform like e-NAM is not fully functional in any State. There are no scientific sorting/grading facilities or quality testing machines. Lack of internet connectivity is another issue impeding progress. Adding on to this, this process is complex and not easily accessible by every farmer as it requires skills as well as an android mobile phone and good network connectivity. And in rural areas, small farmers hardly have any mobile phone and connectivity issues are permanent in many places. And last but not least is the issue of the Awareness and faith about the use of this online platform is also an important point. So, after taking all these factors into consideration, we require some things which will overcome all these issues.So here we have come with a mobile application called ‘AGROSATHI’ which will not only give a solution for every problem as well as safe and easy access to everyone.
Following are the features of AGROSATHI app:
● People can use it in their local language:
Most applications which farmers are using at present are either in English or in Hindi. And the reason why many farmers are not using this application is the language because in many rural areas people are not even comfortable with Hindi So it becomes necessary that these apps should be in local languages so that they can use it. Hence our app will work in many local languages.
● Simple to use but more informative.
If we open windows of Many applications then we see that they are much more complicated to understand. One needs to be very habitual of using all this application to make use of this application. So, to overcome this problem, we are keeping our window so simple so that anybody can use it.
● It will work in offline mode as well.
We know that network connectivity is the biggest issue in many interior places in India. And if we want to connect maximum people to digital mode. Then we want something which can work in offline mode. And so after taking this point into consideration we are making our application in fashion so that it can also work in offline mode.
● It will work inside the state and across the state, it depends on the nature of the product as well as depends on farmers and the buyer’s interest.
We ensure that our app not only works within the state but depending on the shelf life of the products it will also work across the states. If a farmer wants to sell their products outside their home town our app will help them to export their products.
● Home delivery of Agricultural input available.
Many farmers were unable to buy agriculture inputs on time prior to the monsoon season due to a lack of transport facility during the lockdown period. As many farmers don’t have their own mode of transport and at that time state transport buses and private vehicles were also not functional and transport modes which were available were charging high fare and farmers were not capable enough to pay those fares. so, to overcome this kind of issue in the future we are ensuring the home delivery of agriculture input on time by using our network within the local area.
● App will provide other useful information.
Our app will not only help the farmer to sell and buy their product but also provide information to a farmer like local weather details. Description of Government programs and schemes in all possible languages. And we also connect farmers to the nearest KVK centre so that they can get expert guidance from there. Which will help to make their agriculture more profitable.
● Video online and offline both available for farmers who can’t read.
We are of the fact many farmers can’t read. So, in order to make our app more inclusive so that it will benefit everyone. we will provide all necessary information in video form so that can also make use of it,
How Agrosathi will Work:
Farmers can sell their produce by following steps:
- Awareness creation: Many times, when the different app launched farmers didn’t have any information about that. And They can’t use it because they don’t know how to use it. So, to overcome these issues that we will organize a different workshop in villages and try to create awareness about our app. We will also teach farmers how to use this app. For organizing workshops, we will take help students of agriculture colleges, Social work universities, and train those students as an intern. By this, we will not only create awareness among farmers regarding the app but also provides a great opportunity for the students to know more about the ground reality. And this experience will help these students in the future.
- Registration: we will also go through registration. This will be in a simple process with basic details like name, address, UID number, etc. In the registration process, we also take help from the youth of the villages. Who will be trained by our interns during the awareness workshop? To motivate and engage youth in this work we
will also give them reward on the basis of their performance and numbers of registration. by using this process, we will make registration.
- Enrolment of products: Farmers can enrol their products for sale. For that, they can upload an image or small videos of the product. It will include the name of the crop, quantity, breed name, etc. Farmers who don’t have smartphone or an internet facility can inform our resource person of the village. Who will upload their product details? For that purpose, for we will choose two to five youth for enrolment. Numbers depend on the population of village.
- Online Trading: Now interested buyers can directly call farmers or fallow online auction of the selling or buying product. Then farmers can be to sell their product if they are comfort.
- Agreement between both: After selection of buyers and sellers. Agreement between both will happen. After that weighting of the respective product will be done. And a last packaging of products will be done.
- Payment: If buyers and sellers both are local then they can do cash transition. Otherwise they can use online payment modes like UPI payment, Cheque, net banking etc. Both online and offline transactions modes are available in this app.
- Post trade and permit: Now product totally sold to the buyers. Now they get permit and can sell anywhere. According to requirements and needs.
How can purchase agricultural Inputs:
Farmers not only can sell their products but also can purchase agricultural inputs. In this app local as well as wholesale Farmers not only can sell their products but also can purchase agricultural inputs. In this app local as well as wholesale agriculture shops are registered. When farmers need any agricultural inputs, they have option to choose whether they want seed, fertilizer, insecticides etc. They just need to order. From shop which they want to deliver. after this packaging and delivery of the product will be done as soon as possible. Once items get delivered at farmers field then they can do payment through cash or online. For some products payment needs to be done just after booking.
How Other facility works:
KVK scientist: Farmers can get more details about their problem through toll free numbers as well as farmers can get online consultancy through online meetings by different media platforms. If farmers want to meet them directly then they can book their slot through app or in calling toll free number mentioned in the application.
Weather update: Farmer’s will get weather updates through this application. Important messages will be directly sent to the farmers in their own language. Farmers who don’t have smart phones can call-in toll-free numbers and can get more details.
Programme and Scheme:
Farmers can get information of any programme and scheme which is available in the application. Video of every program available. In which programme details present. For more clarification they can directly ask from KVK scientist, Professors, Development professional, PG students etc.
Feedback Section: If Anyone wants to suggest anything. Then they can add their suggestion in feedback section. After checking this with our team if your suggestions are beneficial. Then we will add or can do little change in our application in order to more it effective.
Thus, our application AGROSTHI will work. We will try our best so that farmers will to get best returns for their produces as they work hard for growing this. And this will also fill the gap between farmers and market. And help farmers to carry out their daily activities without fail in any unpredictable situation like pandemic.
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Vaishnavi Lakade & Nitish Kumar
(Azim Premji University Bengaluru)