Start ups Bringing Pakistan’s Farming into Digital Age

Agriculture entrepreneurs are bringing the digital age to Pakistan`s farmers, helping them plan crops better and distribute their produce when the time is right. Until recently, “the most modern machine we had was the tractor”, Aamer Hayat Bhandara, a farmer and local councillor behind one such project told AFP in “Chak 26”, a village in the agricultural heartland of Punjab province. Even making mobile phone calls can be difficult in many parts of Pakistan, but since October, farmers in Chak 26 and pilot projects elsewhere have been given free access to the internet—and it is revolutionising the way they work. This is the “Digital Dera”—or meeting place—and six local farmers have come to see the computers and tablets that provide accurate weather forecasts, as well as the latest market prices and farming tips.

At “Digital Dera” farmers come to see computers and tablets that provide accurate weather forecasts, as well as the latest market prices and farming tips. At the other end of the supply chain, around 150 kilometres (90 miles) away in Lahore, dozens of men load fruit and vegetables onto delivery bikes at a warehouse belonging to the start-up Tazah, which acts as an intermediary between farmers and traders. After just four months in operation, the company delivers about 100 tonnes of produce every day to merchants in Lahore and Karachi who place orders via a mobile app. Tazah delivers about 100 tonnes of produce every day to merchants in Lahore and Karachi who place orders via a mobile app.

In the Tazah office, several employees manage the orders, but for the time being, purchases are still made by phone, as the part of the application intended for farmers is still in development. Fruit and vegetables often rot during their journey along poorly organised supply chains, says partner Mohsin Zaka, but apps like Tazah make the whole system more efficient. A $20 million fundraising campaign is underway, the co-founder told AFP, at a time when investments are pouring into Pakistani start-ups. A tablet is now all Aamer Hayat Bhandara needs to control the irrigation on part of the 100 hectares he cultivates.

Now Pakistan, the world’s fifth-most populous country, is attracting attention and agriculture is a sector that is “completely untapped from a technological point of view”, he said.

Original Link: https://phys.org/news/2022-01-ups-pakistan-farming-digital-age.html