The (Im)mobile apps for farmers by the GOVT. of India


The govt. of India claims to invest quite a bit in technology for the farmers. As part of this, they also develop mobile apps, supposedly, to be used by the farmers. Below is a list of apps that the govt. was discussing during a Loksabha Q&A session and I thought it would be an interesting exercise to download the app and evaluate it myself. While I was not able to get all the apps listed below, I did evaluate quite a few apps listed on mkisan.gov.in.

Had these been done commercially there wouldn’t be a single buyer for these apps, that’s how immobile these mobile apps are or worse even, there wouldn’t be a single user even if these apps were given for free.

Here are a few aspects of these apps that clearly beat the very purpose of these apps

  • The apps are not interactive i.e. the user has very limited to sometimes no interaction with the apps. The apps are simply read only. Instead of the apps, the information could just be given out as handouts or brochures because they are for the most part simply static pages.
  • The apps are not available in the offline mode i.e. they will only work when the network is available. Given that most of these apps are intended to be used by farmers in rural India where internet connectivity cannot be guaranteed, the apps should have been made available in offline mode.
  • The Kisan Suvidha has the ability to provide commodity prices for a given market with in a secret. If this app was done with inputs from the farmers, then this would be done in a completely different way i.e. instead of selecting each and every commodity within a market, it would have been easier to just display a list of all commodity prices with a market.
  • The Kisan Suivdha also has the weather but it is just the weather. It doesn’t link the weather with what crops can be grown or any other relevant advisory.
  • There is no mention of organic or natural farming in any of these apps or as part of any advisory. If the govt. apps themselves don’t encourage it then why did they even bother recognizing Subhash Palekar?
  • The apps should find ways to make interactive. Not all the situations will have guidelines and instructions, on the contrary, the knowledge base has to be built upon based on the constant interactions with the users (farmers).
  • The Kisan Suvidha app does have access to some very crucial information such as the tomato prices in Gudimalkapur market is Rs 500 per quintal when compared to Rs 3800 per quintal in Kerala. The app should relay this information back to the farmers with alternatives planned, not just giving the information, because that is of no help whatsoever.
  • The apps have to made to satisfy the farmers not to satisfy the governments.
  • The apps need to have a constant review process in place so that the effectiveness of these apps can be measured and recalibrated. Usually the govt’s announce a review but they never happen and when they do happen, it is too late for anything to be done to do the damage control.
  • The govt. also claims to have sent over a thousand SMS messages till date. If this were true, then these SMS’s would have had lot of metadata which can given very useful information – where is this data?

Below are some screen snapshots of the apps I tested that show the static pages.

Reference:

Excerpt from a Loksabha Q&A session

  • Kisan Suvidha: This app has a simple interface and provides information on five critical parameters- weather, input dealers, market price, plant protection and expert advisories.
  • Pusha Krishi: This app provides information on latest technologies to farmers.
  • Crop Insurance: – Famer can learn of insurance premium, notified area etc. on the mobile. Contd…2/- -2-
  • Agri Market: – Farmer can learn of the prices of various crops in the mandis near him.
  • India Weather:- This app provides current weather and 4 days weather forecast across the country for more than 300 cities

The number of mobile apps downloaded thus far

Mkisan

Excerpt from another Q&A session – An mKisan Portal has been developed which is an umbrella portal for all mobile based initiatives in the field of Agriculture & allied sectors. It brings together SMS (both Push and Pull), Interactive Voice Response System, Unstructured Supplementary Services of Data or USSD (which is essentially Interactive SMS and can facilitate data entry and query on Web Portals without internet), Mobile Apps and Services. Till date, more than 1035 crores SMSs have been sent to farmers by all agencies/ organisation/ departments in agriculture and allied sectors down to Block level throughout the country.

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