Enhancing Farming activities using Social Life Networks

During the last decade technology had revolutionised human lives and penetrated significantly through different sectors of developing countries. Technology can play a vital role in eradicating poverty by assisting the economic growth. Thus, for a country like Sri Lanka it is essential to research and develop innovative approaches to improve the standard of living of the people by promoting economic development. Agriculture is the most dominant sector in Sri Lankan economy. Around 32.7% of the total labour force which is a significant percentage compared to other sectors, are employed in this sector. Therefore, the ability to identify the existing problems associated with farming and deploying innovative solutions using existing and emerging technologies would help to grow the farming industry and to contribute more towards the economic growth of Sri Lanka.
At present farmers mainly depend on the basic knowledge gained from their fore-parents for their farming activities. Factors such as type of soil, seasonal weather, water availability, financial status, market prices, pest and disease issues play a vital role in selecting crops for cultivation. Due to sub optimal information and knowledge often farmers make wrong decisions resulting in sub optimal outcomes and financial hardships. Thus in this project the following key research questions will be investigated; what information is required to make optimal decisions at various stages of the food production and distribution phases of a typical farming life cycle, from where and how this information can be obtained, how the scattered data from multiple sources as well as real time information such as market prices etc can be optimally aggregated and presented to farmers just in time to make informed decisions.
Action research approach has been selected to investigate the above research questions. After initial analysis to identify the information required for making better decisions, an intervention will be made to augment the decision making process by developing a mobile based Social Life Network. In December 2010 around 80% of the Sri Lanka population had mobile phones. The outcome of this intervention will then be evaluated and the system will be refined.