The Project Today
The Project Today:
The two final concepts we want to take forward each represent an opportunity to increase access to precision agricultural practices in the developing world. We believe that combining these through a service model creates a compelling offering to smallholder farmers and anyone involved in farmer financing.
We’ve wrapped up Phase 1 of the project in June 2015. After testing our final prototypes in the field, we left them with the Proximity Team to continue field research, testing, and gathering data over the Summer and Fall to understand more about farmer’s needs and desires. We’re also reaching out to agronomists and experts in these technologies to inform our next steps. The next phase of this project will involve detail design, engineering, and establishing reliable baseline data to inform the feedback each product requires. Our plan is to partner with Proximity and seek further funding to bring these products and services to market in 2016. Working together, we feel strongly that we can use our design and engineering team and networks in the Bay Area with the design team and in-country programming and manufacturing experience Proximity has in Myanmar to build these products and services efficiently and affordably.
The concepts are as follows:
Smallholder farmers in Myanmar (and many parts of the developing world) often farm irregular sized plots of land, and when they buy fertilizer and seeds it can be very challenging to estimate the correct quantities since their acreage is currently measured by a rough guess. We see an opportunity to use the existing GPS on increasingly common smartphones to accurately measure and subdivide crops by walking their perimeter. Once we have the precise acreage we can create a recommendation of inputs needed for each crop based on the season and geography. Farmers found this incredibly attractive because they can walk into a fertilizer shop armed with clear information. This is also attractive to Proximity Finance because it allows them to gather useful information on their farmers while providing them with a valuable service.
Precision Irrigation Tools for Myanmar
Proximity already has a great drip irrigation kit they sell to farmers throughout Myanmar, but in our research we saw a lot of variety in how farmers water their crops. Some fields were clearly over-watered, while others had cracked and compacted soil around each plant. After testing a number of moisture sensors including off the shelf options and our own prototypes we clearly saw the need for a solution that gives farmers clear and real time feedback, and works off grid and off network for developing world applications. The farmers we worked with see a clear need for this and were willing to spend between $8 and $40 USD for it. The next phase of the project will determine whether this would work better as a service for farmers or something they get financed and eventually own.