In 2017, AFC, in cooperation with its Indian partner ETC, started cooperating with SmartFarming on the development of a potato app, based on an existing cotton app successfully implemented in India.
In the second half of May, the SmartFarming team, with the great support of AFC and ETC field staff, organized a round of meetings and workshops in two locations in the project area in India. One round took place in Peth, Maharashtra, where 20 potato farmers tested the pilot version of the potato app and shared their ideas for further improvement. The other round was done in Hassan, Karnataka. In this area, 10 highly motivated farmers took part.
Data gathered suggests that in the project region, about 70% of all potato farmers own a smartphone, reaching to a 100% smartphone possession for the younger generation. The SmartFarming potato app is received as a valuable addition to other training materials developed, because the agronomic information comes in bits and pieces on a moment at which it is most relevant to the farmers. The test runs revealed some functionalities that should be improved further to make the app even more user friendly, and content topics were suggested that should be added or should be more tailored to the farmer’s needs.
The test also revealed relevant content still new to some of the test farmers. For example, farmers sometimes harvest potatoes early to make room on the field to grow a follow-up crop of maize, by doing so however accepting lower potato yields. The potato app however advises to keep the potatoes just a few days longer in the field. Prolonging the potato grow period by 10 days may lead to an additional 20% higher yield, whereas there is still sufficient time to grow maize.