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- One of the fastest growing agricultural exports from Sri Lanka is canned and fresh fruit.
- Farmers who are able to grow pineapples stand to gain a significant increase income - demand from export is high, but the local market demand sometimes outpaces it.
- however, unlike many other crops, pineapple is not a crop targeted by the government - there are no subsidies, no expert government research institutions and no extension workers to help farmers in the field on a day-to-day basis.
- The need for knowledge is high - how can a farmer identify a "bad" sapling from a "good" sapling? what chemicals to use if plants are infected by a particular fungus? Answers to these and many other questions can make or break a pineapple farmer's income.
- Often, the best source of knowledge for farmers is there peers (other farmers who grow the same crop).
- There is also a need to efficiently link sellers of pineapples with buyers (be they exporters or whole-sale buyers or local retailers). Buyers should be able to find sellers, and announce their interest in buying a certain quantity of pineapples of a certain grade by a certain date. )
- Farmers need a simple and efficient way to "network" with each other.
- Farmers need a way to find other farmers in their area who are growing pineapples and are interested in sharing information and helpful tips.
- Farmers need a way to take a photo and broadcast it to a group/network of individuals who could comment on the photo or call the farmer back with tips on the health or market value of the plant.
- Farmers need a way to find buyers for their pineapples. Something like an eBay for pineapples would be helpful
- Farmers should be able to announce the availability of pineapples (of varying grades) for specific dates (from specific locations).
- Buyers (be they exporters or whole-sale buyers or local retailers) should be able to find these sellers, or make a posting them selves, announcing their interest in buying a certain quantity of pineapples of a certain grade by a certain date.
- It should work in the local language (in this case, Unicode Sinhala).
- Most farmers only have basic mobile phones. Very few have smart phones.
- An app that works on a smart phone is a "nice to have".
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- Agriculture sector employs the highest percentage of people in many South Asian countries.
- Yet in each country it is the sector with the lowest productivity. Farmers are stuck in a cycle of low productivity and low income. It is not uncommon to hear of farmer suicides in India regularly.
- One way to break this cycle is to get farmers to adopt other employment (i.e. get them to move out of farming, into other jobs).
- Another way is to improve the productivity of farming itself, so that higher value crops are grown, and making sure farmers are able to keep/capture that higher value.
- Growing crops for export, specially growing niche agricultural export crops, is one way to do the latter.
- An example is organic fruit and vegetables. another may be traceable vegetables (where a fruit can be traced to exact plot of land it was grown in, along with all additives used in growing, when it was harvested, etc).
- However, growing such crops is a knowledge intensive activity - more information and specialized knowledge is required in growing the crops so that various (export and other) standards can be met. Often, the best source of knowledge for farmers is there peers (other farmers who grow the same crop).
Agriculture sector employs the highest percentage of people in many South Asian countries. Yet in each country it is the sector with the lowest productivity.
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