By Neha Banu Uddin on Nov 14,2017 - 19:50
A Nepali tech startup- Db2Map, won a prestigious $100,000 worth Data Driven Farming Prize. This was a worldwide competition organized by the United States Government’s ‘Feed the Future Initiative’. The journey the company Db2Map went through is inspiring.
The initiation of Db2Map comes after the Gorkha Earthquake. A group of four friends working in various development agencies- Rajan Man Bajracharya, Hari Krishna Dhonju, Bikash Dangol, and Suraj Shrestha, developed data-management to make assessments on what can be done voluntarily in the aftermath of the disaster. Db2Map was commenced as a data infrastructure that promoted data sharing and consumption. The tool helped Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) in assessing the impact of the quake.
“Earlier, map making used to be a complicated job, and limited to cartographers only. Db2Map was started just to make an interactive/engaging map out of a raw data. Db2Map has simplified the work. Anyone who knows MS Excel can make an interactive map,” shared Bajracharya.
The project started as a voluntary work, but now has evolved and grown. As the volume of data grew, the group wanted to the work systematized. They first started to focus on agriculture, as it is the occupation for most Nepali people and substantially contributes to the country’s economy, and launched GeoKrishi in the February of 2017.
GeoKrishi is mainly useful in two categories of users. The first category focuses on criterias like extension workers, farmer representatives and farmers who are seeking information to improve options of crops at farm level. Questions like ‘Where, which agro-product, when and how’ are answered by the first category. Next, the second category focuses on scientific users and researchers, for example- NARC scientists and I/NGOs. The real beneficiaries of ‘GeoKrishi’ are farmers.
GeoKrishi also recently partnered with Helvetas to calculate fertilizer input. They made fertilizer calculators in coordination with a UK-based scientist. It calculates what amount of NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium) are to be put on which type of plants to get optimum output, and how to carry out crop rotation.
The team has tested GeoKrishi in three different geographical settings: the mountain region (Jumla district), the hilly region (Surkhet) and the terai region (Bardiya). Nepal Government’s High Value Agriculture Project (HVAP) has also collaborated for the project.
The group recently won the $100,000 prize for their innovative solutions in utilizing information and communications technology to improve agricultural productivity. “After GeoKrishi grows to become a knowledge bank, we’ll open agriculture advisory service center at a national level. Then we’ll start to provide private services,” Bajracharya shares.
Using GeoKrishi, HVAP has built interactive maps of various places of the Surkhet district. It helps to clearly represent and find where a particular crop can be cultivated best. Road networks and settlement locations can be overlaid on the map so as to know if a particular place can be developed as a pocket zone for a certain crop so that processing unit, collection centers, and other infrastructure setups can be made.
After one year, GeoKrishi is all set to replicate the model to other districts of Nepal from Surkhet. In a long run, the team wants to expand the work beyond Nepal. The group is about to establish Agriculture Advisory Service Center at a national level in the duration of next 3-5 years. “We will develop information for five development phases of farming: planning, plantation, growing, harvest, and selling in the market, ultimately making the process more systematic and helping to farm smarter,” shares Bajracharya, “But, we are not limited to GeoKrishi only. We are registering a non-profit organization that specializes on data. For the same, we have teamed up with experts who really want to pursue this vision, and are starting Digital Data Co-Lab (collaborative lab) soon”.Tags - Tech , Technology , Biratnagar , Db2Map , Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) , Nepal Government’s High Value Agriculture Project (HVAP)
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