CHITWAN, Aug 20: Julie Mahato, a farmer residing in Kalika Municipality Ward No. 5, has embraced modern farming practices that align with the seasons. When challenges arose with her cultivated crops, Mahato found herself facing difficulties seeking consultations. However, this is no longer the case as she has transitioned to seeking advice through mobile applications from the comfort of her home.
Mahato now utilizes her mobile phone applications to not only address farming concerns but also to monitor market prices. She efficiently engages in both selling her produce and gauging fair prices through these applications. Remarkably, this technological shift has been integrated into her routine for the past year. Sharing her experience, Mahato mentioned, "The interference of middlemen has been reduced as we can now access market prices through our mobile phones. Even in caring for my goats, I rely on consultations via mobile apps." Presently, she oversees a small herd of five goats, previously requiring time-consuming interactions with agricultural technicians, which is no longer necessary due to the accessibility of digital resources.
In a similar vein, the COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the vegetable market, resulting in the wastage of produce from the Deep Social Enterprise Women Cooperative Farmers of Padampur. Thankfully, the cooperative has since found innovative solutions. Khima Chaudhary, the organization's president, shared insights into their approach. With the assistance of a mobile app named Geokrishi, the cooperative is able to showcase and sell vegetables and fruits cultivated by its 358 women members.
Chaudhary underscored the surge in agricultural trading applications that have emerged since the pandemic's onset. During the initial lockdown phase, when traditional market channels were disrupted, stories emerged of farmers being forced to discard crops like cauliflower and tomatoes.
To empower the cooperative's members, the organization conducted a comprehensive 15-day training program to familiarize them with the functionalities of the mobile app. This initiative has been successful in equipping women with the ability to source, install, and utilize various agriculture-centric applications on their mobile phones. Consequently, they have shifted their agricultural consultations to a digital format, harnessing the potential of these applications to gain insights into weather patterns, seed production, fertilization, irrigation, and plant cultivation techniques.
Previously, procuring vegetables required visits to individual farms. However, the paradigm has shifted, allowing consumers to place orders through the app, prompting farmers to directly deliver a diverse array of vegetables. Furthermore, the cooperative has embraced digitalization on a broader scale by installing digital TV, a platform that supports initiatives like the E-Chautari program, which aims to foster knowledge-sharing and community engagement.
In the Chitwan district, women from both Kalika Municipality Ward No. 5 and Ward No. 2 have enthusiastically adopted an agricultural app. Prem Kunwar, the program officer at Geokrishi, noted the growing allure of technology among farmers. He revealed that 15 percent of women are now accessing comprehensive agricultural information via the app. The organization has taken proactive steps to train women in effectively navigating and utilizing the app's features.
The indispensability of this technology spans across producers and buyers alike. Binod Shrestha, an agriculture expert, underscores the importance of enacting local regulations to foster the development of digital technology.
The agricultural app empowers farmers to seamlessly conduct an array of agricultural transactions using their mobile phones, thanks to the user-friendly software provided by the bank. This technology simplifies and secures various aspects of agriculture-related transactions.
Farmers can tap into various information through the app, encompassing details about weather patterns, the availability of agricultural inputs, transactions within the agricultural sector, insurance options, and subsidies. The app also imparts technical insights into agricultural business operations, enlightens users on storage, processing, and effective marketing strategies for their produce, and showcases successful practices employed by agricultural farms.
Notably, the municipality's agricultural branch has incorporated a digital device capable of monitoring agricultural activities. Mayor Binod Regmi conveyed their initiative of linking entrepreneurs from all corners of Kalika Municipality through a mobile app designed to foster entrepreneurial connections.
Mayor Regmi emphasized his intention to particularly support women entrepreneurs through this app. He anticipates that transitioning to digital technology will yield time savings and diminish the risk of fraudulent activities.