Considered the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, agriculture sector is suffering from volatility in growth due to host of factors, including lack of progressive farming.
Agriculture contributed 20 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that accounts for 42.3 percent of Pakistan’s employed labour force, according to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2016. Despite its importance, agriculture sector is suffering from unpredictability in growth and its performance remained subdued.
According to the Pakistan Economic Survey 2014-15, insufficient progress in technological innovation, limited progressive farming techniques, marketing and trade restrictions, low prices of crops and traditional processing methods are major reasons for low production.
The report stated that 40 percent of the total agricultural production was wasted in post-harvest due to insufficient utilisation of biotechnology. In this scenario, use of technology seems to be the most fitting solution to revive this life-support sector.
Telenor Pakistan has launched an initiative ‘Khushaal Zamindar’ to digitalise agriculture and provide necessary information to farmers to increase production.“Khushaal Zamindar, a part of Telenor Pakistan’s mobile agriculture initiatives, is a service currently available in three languages including Urdu, Punjabi and Siraiki for farmers in the Punjab province,” said Habib Saqib, Director Mobile Agriculture, Telenor Pakistan while talking to The News.
“It’s a user-friendly Robocall, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and SMS content based service for farmers that provides location specific weather forecast along with contextual agronomic advisory for every farmer’s relevant crop mix and tips for livestock management,” he added.
Habib said that through Khushaal Zamindar service farmers can call agriculture experts once a week through a live show which is extremely popular amongst subscribers.
“Presently, we have made the service available across 36 districts of the Punjab province, that constitutes 65 per cent of the country’s population,” said Durdana Achakzai, Chief Digital Officer, Telenor Pakistan.
“With the service already crossing a whopping 1.5 million subscription mark in a short span of time since its launch in December 2015, we have decided in principle to expand its scope to the rest of the country.”
Achakzai said that Telenor Pakistan recently won the annual P@SHA ICT Award for ‘’Innovation in Service’’ and “Agri & Rural Innovation” by Pakistan Innovation Foundation for this ground-breaking mobile agricultural service. Experts said that digitalizing agriculture can really bring about agriculture revolution in the country.
Report. Mobile agriculture initiative launched to help farmers. The News, January 17, 2017.