Research Inspired Farming Solutions
Digital Knowledge Ecosystem for Agribusiness: Transforming Agriculture
Two of the main causes of low efficiency in agricultural production are coordination failure and uncertainty due difficulties in obtaining right information at the right time. Thus a key condition for farmers to be included in successful value chains is that they have access to market information and possess the ability to translate it to market intelligence. Thus in order to improve efficiency agricultural sector needs to transform itself from fragmented production and marketing relationships towards an integrated market system.
Unlike in any other industry production lag associated with the seasonality of agricultural crops has created a unique problem for market actors. The synchronization of different activities carried out by different actors, from the time of cultivation to time of selling, has to be well coordinated. Failure to do so would result in either an oversupply or undersupply of commodity in the market.
The digital knowledge ecosystem (DKES) that we developed and deployed in Sri Lanka addresses these key problems that farmers and other stakeholders face: agriculture commodity over and under production resulting from an uncoordinated market and the root cause for this; lack of access to right information at the right time to derive the necessary market intelligence. This new system has evolved over the last five years and is now poised to transform agriculture by linking major stakeholders and providing them with relevant context-dependent actionable information at the right time to create a well-coordinated system.
This brief article outlines the evolution of the DKES and highlights its unique features.
Social Life Networks for the Middle of the Pyramid
The Social Life Networks for the Middle of the Pyramid (SLN4MoP) is an International Collaborative research program that aims to provide real-time information to support activities related to livelihood delivered using mobile phone applications targeted to meet the needs of people in developing countries. These applications (in the areas of agriculture, health, fisheries, emergency handling) will harness the rich information available in social networks, public data sources including spatio-temporal sensor data as well as the emerging cloud infrastructure.
There has been an explosive growth in the area of mobile communications in the last few years.Today nearly 5 billion people use a mobile phone; over 3 billion of them live in developing countries. Majority of current mobile applications have been developed to meet the needs of the 1.5 billion living in developed countries. People in developing countries need applications that can assist them with their livelihood in areas such as prevailing market demand and prices of a variety of products and services, assistance with farming, fisheries micro-banking, healthcare services and emergency response.
Using the enormous reach of mobile phones equipped with myriads of sensors such as GPS, Camera, microphoneetc it is now possible to develop thenext generation of social networks known as Social Life Networks that not only connect people to people, but also have the capability of providing real-time, context-sensitive local information by aggregating information from a variety of sources including sms messages, sensor data and data from public data sources such as meteorological data.
This aggregated information can provide real time information on evolving situations such as market prices, how to manage pests and bugs destroying the crops, good locations to catch the fish under current climatic conditions, thereby providing just-in-time assistance and support for their livelihood .