iSoftStone uses information and communication technology (ICT) to support smart agriculture project in Bangladesh.
The state of agriculture in Bangladesh
Pajuliya village in Gazipur near Dhaka features a typical Bangladeshi agriculture-based economy. Nearly 90% of the villagers make their living through agriculture activities including cultivating paddy, growing vegetables and rearing cattle. Although the village upholds a reputation for growing fine vegetables, disease has recently resulted in several seasons of bad harvest.
For generations, farmers traditionally relied on indigenous knowledge to protect their crops. However, now facing new forms of disease with no local remedy, they require specific recommendations from agriculture experts to help mitigate these challenges. Unfortunately, with regional agriculture offices located several miles away, help is often out of reach. Last year, in an effort to improve the situation the Department of Computer Science and Information Technology sought a solution to help support local farmers. Located at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Raman Agriculture University (BSMRAU), the department initiated the E-Village smart agriculture project.
The goal of the E-Village smart agriculture project is to develop specialized digital devices that utilize sensor and smart phone technologies. These digital device provide farmers with critical information about soil conditions, environmental impacts and overall crop health. Utilizing a smartphone application, farmers collect data from their crops and upload the data to an internet server. From there, agriculture experts analyze the data and provide specific pesticide, fertilizer, and irrigation recommendations.
In February 2017 BSMRAU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Bangladeshi Center for Research and Information (CRI), and IT consulting firm iSoftStone to execute the E-Village project. iSoftStone engaged to help develop the sensor devices for the smartphone application.
How iSoftStone is supporting smart agriculture in Bangladesh
iSoftStone’s team of experts designed and developed both the device and application in collaboration with CRI and BSMRAU. Currently, the team is testing the device and ensuring the application is error free.
“Our ultimate goal is to help farmers maximize their outputs while minimizing their inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides,” said iSoftStone Senior ISST Solutions Consultant, Zhang Kun. “For this, ICT is the best choice. It already has had an extremely positive impact on both the economy and livelihood of citizens worldwide. Moreover, we are very optimistic about the future of smart agriculture. This project will allow us to scale and address the future needs of other farmers around the globe.”
Going forward, iSoftStone will continue building at least one model village for each and every district around the country. Currently, the application is for crops only; however, the future vision is to open this technology to fisheries and livestock as well.
How smart agriculture is digitally empowering Bangladesh villages
On April 3, 2017 a demo took place on the BSMRAU campus. During this trial run, 15 villagers were each given one device and one smartphone. Over the course of the following three weeks, experts from the university provided hands on training to the farmers, taught them how to use the devices and monitored progress.
“These devices will help us villagers become more self sufficient,” said Md Moidul Islam, one of the 15 villagers participating in the pilot. “We will have access to the information we need without having to physically seek help from agricultural experts. Simply sending a SMS message and receiving a solution to our problems will help us better respond to new challenges.”
“Digital Bangladesh is not just for the wealthy,” said Md. Roshidul Hasan, head of the department of Computer Science and Information Technology at BSMRAU. “We’re bringing down the cost of these devices to ensure that our farmers are part of this new age of digital technology. Our farmers will be smart farmers”.