Digital Crop Disease Diagnostics ‘Krishoker Janala’

Transforming agriculture extension services using the power of visuals

Developing a user-centric, validated pictorial and text-based database of plant diseases for easy and accurate identification and mitigation of important plant diseases by relevant actors.Show more

D

emand- and supply-side problems with the agriculture extension services

Abdul, a farmer aged 27 in Fulbaria, Mymensingh district, is a third-generation farmer who follows farming methods that his father and grandfather have passed on to him. Whenever faced with a crop problem, he used to approach larger farmers for advice. Though there was the upazila agriculture extension office where he could meet block supervisors, but it was very difficult to reach them due to the long distance and the limited office timings. There have been times when all the crops of his field have been destroyed and he could not understand what had done wrong.

The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) within the Ministry of Agriculture, has a 25,000 strong extension force, but they are not equally knowledgeable about all the problems that any farmer might face during the various stages of pre-production, production, and post-production and therefore might suffer from a lack of confidence when suggesting solutions to the affected farming communities.

As a result, farmers do not receive up-to-date and timely information on ways to identify and treat plant diseases. Instead, they resort to applying knowledge gathered from own experience or borrowed from other farmers. Many are susceptible to the incomplete and often inaccurate knowledge gathered from the local input sellers who might be more interested to earning a profit rather than helping the farmers.

Again, since most of the farmers in Bangladesh lack any formal education on agriculture, they tend to describe their

problems in very crude terms which often create confusion in the mind of the listener, as a result of which the suggested solution may not be proper.

Krishoker Janala as a supportive tool for the agriculture extension network

An agriculture extension officer at the sub-district level, with support from the Service Innovation Fund, developed a database with pictures of plant diseases and relevant text for accurate identification and easy-to-apply solutions for more than 1000 diseases for 120 plant types. Named ‘Krishoker Janala’ (i.e. Farmers’ Window), this device-responsive system has equipped the agricultural extension officers as a complementary tool that allows for precise diagnosis of plant problems. Even the farmers and their relatives, with access to smartphone, can download the content in their phones from the existing users or the Digital Centres and use it as and when required.

Service delivery by Krishoker Janala started in July 2015 which can be accessed through visiting the official website for the Department of Agriculture Extension  and the website for Infokosh, a national e-Content repository having the largest pool of livelihood contents in Bangla.

Farmer level impact

Farmers like Abdul can now accurately identify the particular diseases affecting their crops by scrolling through the image gallery and can get validated solution suggestions. As the chart reveals, the users can now save 48% time and 86% cost by visiting Krishoker Janala compared to the time and cost invested earlier in the traditional process.

Case


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Digitally completion and standardization of Plants Problems Identification System (DPPIS)

Rising demand and resource constraints are making redesigning public services in Bangladesh imperative. More than 80% of the farmers working…

Digitally completion and standardization of Plants Problems Identification System (DPPIS)

Rising demand and resource constraints are making redesigning public services in Bangladesh imperative. More than 80% of the farmers working inremote areas are underprivileged and low-literate. Majority of them are ignorant about plant diseases and other specifications as they merely workto earn a living. Farmers of Bangladesh do not receive up-to-date and timely information on ways to identifyand treat plant diseases.Instead, they resort to applying knowledge gathered from own experience or borrowed from other farmers. Many are susceptible to the incomplete and often inaccurate knowledge gathered from the local input sellers who might be moreinterested to earning a profit rather than helping the farmers.Again, since most of the farmers in Bangladesh lack any formal education on agriculture, they tend to describe their problems in very crude terms which often create confusion in the mind of the listener, as a result of which the suggested solution may not be proper.This dependence on inaccurate solutions to the various plant specific problems results in excessive use of agricultural inputs, like pesticide, fertilizer, and irrigation, which adds to the farmer’s losses in terms of additional cost. The inadequate ratio of extension worker to farmer at 1:2000 is also to blame for the delay in treatment of plant problems given the time lapse between the farmer requesting for support and the extension worker answering that call. Some of the more advanced farmers might still take the trouble of visiting the sub-district agricultural extension office located around 15 km away.A more vivid and transparent system needed to be introduced for the betterment of the agricultural sector in Bangladesh. That is when one of the mid-level officers (designated as Upazila Agricultural Extension Officer) felt a need to go beyond the call of duty and introduce a system of a digital picture library for different problems for specific plant types. Access to Information (A2I) Program found potential in the project and decided to facilitate it as “Krishoker Janala” under the wing of Service Innovation Fund (SIF).
105min250tk1 visit55min35tk1 visitAverage TimeAverage CostAverage VisitChart-1: Reduction in Average Time, Cost and Visit for FarmersManualOnline48%86%0%The system is not only innovative but also cost effective and time saving. Previously farmers would have to vaguely describe their plants’ problems to the extension officer provided the fact that the described problems could be inaccurate as well. Through this system, the farmers can instantly recognize the type of problem their plants are facing by browsing through the picture library. This is saving them good amount of money as well which they had to spend otherwise. The TCV analysis was pretty much impressive with reduced TCV and more satisfied farmers. Initially the project piloted in the sub-district of Fulbaria within the central district of Mymensingh. All 46 of the agriculture extension workers of Fulbaria can now provide immediate solutions to farmers’ queries regarding plant problems. Other than the agriculture extension office at Fulbaria, “KrishokerJanala”is being used by Farmer Information and Advisory Centres (FIACs), Agriculture Information Communication Centres (AICCs), agro-focused NGOs, and all 14 Digital CentresinFulbaria.The system is being promoted to farmers across Bangladesh using colorful folders(2000) and leaflets (5000). The project has also been promoted as ideal example of innovation at digital innovation fairs in different districts and sub-districts. Apart from traditional methods of promotion, several documentaries have also been developed on “KrishokerJanala”by various entities (including BTV, the national terrestrial channel) which have been broadcasted in mass media. 3 national dailies, multiple local dailies, and agro-based tabloidshave aptly covered the story of thisinnovation.KrishokerJanala has also gained appreciation in social media with more than 1100 likes!KrishokerJanala represents an inexpensive-to-build and inexpensive-to-operate, user-centric indigenous innovation that positively affects the capacity of tens of thousands of agricultural extension workers who support tens of millions of underserved farmers and agriculture value chain actors. The platform and content can be leveraged for much timelierrefresher training with vastly updated content thereby ensuring that the extension workers remain more relevant compared to the traditional state of affairs. The replication of this systemacross the nation by the supervisory agency and ministry is testament to the massive usefulness of this approach. It is expected that more innovators will be inspired by the simple, inexpensive and user-centric approach to solve age-old development problems of a country.

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