U.S. Partners with Nepal to Open Doors for Innovative Farming

U.S. Partners with Nepal to Open Doors for Innovative Farming

Aug. 30, 2016, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol 10, No.2,August 12,2016,(Shrawan,28,2073)

KATHMANDU, August 30, 2016 – Entrepreneurs, officials and farmers came together today at a Feed the Future event convened by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to identify innovative solutions in agriculture that will increase production and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

“We want to engage and motivate the next generation of farmers in Nepal and across Asia,” said Kipp Sutton, USAID’s regional agriculture team lead. “Supporting innovation that can help smallholder farmers earn more and is an attractive investment for the private sector is one of the best ways to do it.”

Many of the new technologies are coming from entrepreneurs under 35 that apply the latest technologies and business models to the agriculture sector including low-cost sensors to monitor soil, smart phone apps to answer farmer questions on how to use new technology and solar powered irrigation.

These young entrepreneurs are applying the latest online technology to the agriculture sector. One of them is Anil Regmi from agro based startup Smart Krishi Nepal.  So far, the startup has connected over 30,000 farmers with their mobile app “Smart Krishi” and with Facebook page (over 1,66,000+ followers) that provides genuine agricultural information/techniques and answers to questions from farmers trying to use new technology like mobile application and social media. 

“With advancement of ICT tools in developing countries, it’s easy for farmers to access market information which can have a critical impact on their decision making and therefore livelihood.” said Regmi.

Sun Farmer, another startup, has introduced solar powered irrigation service to small holder farmers in rural Nepal, the farmers are able to benefit from this service by paying monthly fees and consequently be the owners at the end of the term. “With access to the energy services, the operational efficiency has increased, allowing farmers to expand business”, said Avishek Malla, the Director of Engineering and Operations of SunFarmer.

“Increasingly, technology is helping farmers plant, monitor, harvest and transfer crops to the market by taking advantage of evidence-based data that is collected in the field and stored in the virtual cloud,” said Tarinee Youkhaw Outreach Officer  USAID Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Project

“One of the many advantages of technology is that it can help collect the data that will help the government improve its planning and extension services to farmers,” said Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture Development.

The $15 million USAID Feed the Future Asia Innovative Farmers Project implemented by Winrock International based in Bangkok, Thailand, organized today's event to help build a strong and resourceful 'Regional Agricultural Innovation Community' that links entrepreneurs, researchers, government officials, and technologists towards a shared goal of improving incomes for smallholder farmers. 

The project recently launched the Tech4Farmers Challenge (http://tech4farmerschallenge.ku.ac.th/) to encourage tech producers from throughout Asia to expand proven, agriculture technologies into commercial markets in Nepal, Cambodia, and Bangladesh.  For example, Grameen Intel Social Business (GISB) is expecting to introduce its first ever integrated soil testing "smart device" into Bangladesh and Nepal market as it ensures farmers "less fertilizer & high yield" and committing entrepreneurs return by "less time & more service".  It will also provide evidence-based data on the best types of crops to plant in certain kinds of soil,” said Fakhrul Arefeen from GISB.  The Asia Agriculture Innovation Summit Series is next going to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on September 27 followed by Bangladesh a few months later. Visit the Tech4Farmers Challenge website at: http://tech4farmerschallenge.ku.ac.th/ for more information on how the project can help accelerate new technologies in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal.

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