On Wednesday, 4 January 2017 in A.K.M Giasuddin Milky Auditorium (Khamarbari, Dhaka), the Access to Information (a2i) program of the Prime Minister’s Office and the Department of Agricultural Extension under the Ministry of Agriculture jointly organized a program for launching three agriculture extension mobile app based services developed for agricultural expansion have been launched. The occasion was graced by the presence of the Honorable Minister of Agriculture Matia Chowdhury, MP as the chief guest. The special guests included Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office Sheikh Yusuf Harun, and Policy Advisor of the a2i Program Anir Chowdhury. The ceremony was chaired by the Director General of the Department of Agriculture Extension Md Hamidur Rahman.

Due to unavailability of all agriculture related information in one place, the provision agriculture extension services to the farmers of Bangladesh becomes a challenge. To solve this problem, “Krishoker Digital Thikana” has been created where one can find all essential technology and information on crop cultivation. When delivering solutions to crop problems, the agriculture officers face different type challenges, including the huge number of crops and diseases, inability of farmers to precisely explain the problems that they are facing, the problems not being accurately identified, etc. To help farmers easily identify crop problems (diseases, insects and fertilizer related), a pictorial database called “Krishoker Janala” has been developed where farmers can also receive environment friendly solutions. A “Pesticide Prescriber” has been developed containing readily available and easily accessible information on pesticides. Besides the launching of these three services, initiatives have been taken to engage 15,000 government officials in ensuring use of these apps by farmers in their locality, thus providing more than 5 million services.

It is mentionable here that, with technical support from the USAID and the UNDP and the implementation support from the Prime Minister’s Office, the a2i Programme had initiated the Service Innovation Fund which has funded the most innovative ideas coming from field level agriculture officers. Once the pilot projects are over, steps are taken to upscale these nationwide with support from relevant government agencies.

Among others, the program was attended by all heads of directorates and institutions under Ministry of Agriculture, all heads of district level agriculture office, vice chancellors of agriculture universities, officials from Prime Minister’s Office and the a2i Programme, and electronic and print media representatives.