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Modern technology becomes boon for farmers in Rajshahi

Level of confidence of grassroots farmers is being strengthened to a greater extent in terms of producing additional crops besides protecting soil health and curtailing production cost after the best uses of modern technologies in Rajshahi region.Different types of demand-driven services, including knowledge related to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), devices and apps, are being reached to the farmers’ doorsteps instantly.Farmers are seen yielding additional crops together with changing their fortunes through deriving total benefits of those effectively. Monirul Islam, 40, has become an icon in terms of attaining capacity to balanced fertilization in farming fields through using ‘Khamari App’ that discourages farmers from indiscriminate fertilization, a common concern.In addition to protecting soil health, the judicious fertilization is enhancing cropping yield and meeting protein demands. It’s also saving Taka 50,000 as fertilizer cost in every season. “I have 16-bigha farming fields of paddy, wheat, watermelon, maize and mustard seed round the year,” he said adding that he’s reaping additional yield worth around Taka 60,000 in every season after using the digital devices.Islam said Khamari mobile App is contributing a lot towards boosting crop yield as it’s very much effective in terms of digitizing the data and findings related to farming. “The Khamari App is time-fitting and need-oriented to the farmers and other beneficiaries,” he added.Anisuzzaman Dollar, 48, another farmer of Dewpara village, has become habituated in crop farming after taking necessary information and suggestions related to weather, pest management, irrigation and fertilization from the Farmers Information and Advice Center (FIAC) at Union Parishad (UP).As a member of Dewpara FIAC facebook messenger group he receives all sorts of necessary and emergency information related to his farming management either from his house or farming field instantly.Shafiqul Islam, 45, a farmer of Nazirpur village, has transformed himself into a digital agriculture entrepreneur as he has reaper, binder, thrasher, power thresher, wider, hand wider, machine for spraying fertilizer, bed planter, seed sowing tray and strip tillage for producing paddy seedlings on tray.He has a facebook messenger group with around 250 farmers and delivers services to them as per their demands.Many other farmers have changed their fortunes after best uses of modern ICT as well as the benefits of digital Bangladesh in the region including its vast Barind tract. With this breakthrough, the number of entrepreneurs in the agriculture sector is seen increasing gradually bringing a new dimension to the region’s agro-based economy. Two young friends, Sarwar Rashid and Nurullah Sadekin Sourav, have invested for high-value fruits and crops farming after taking lease 12 bighas of land and launching digital farming in Iswaripur area under Godagari upazila in late 2020. “We’ve added modern mechanization and digitalization to agriculture for getting more outputs and profits after utilizing our IT knowledge and experiences,” said Sarwar Rashid while illustrating their business strategy. He said they are taking suggestions and guidelines from local agriculture officers on how to make the farming more profitable. “We’ve already got success in generating and selling of graft-seedlings of watermelon,” Sarwar Rashid said, adding that they are also supplying seedlings of summer watermelon, cauliflower and cabbage among the farmers.Sub Assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker told BSS that each of the FIAC was equipped with seed samples, leaflets for disseminating crop production techniques, spray machines, ribbon pipe for supplementary irrigation, meter for testing seed moisture and farmers training free of cost.”We’re using phone, email and BanglaSMS, for sending the messages to the target group people,” he added.Web-based technologies like whatsapp, facebook messenger, zoom and skype are also being used for this purpose.Godagari Upazila Agriculture Officer Mariam Ahmed said the farmers are getting different kinds of information, including season-wise crops, land fertility, fertilizer recommendation, yield and seed through the App. They are gathering knowledge about crop zoning, crop diversification, crop production and farming technology. As a whole, the App has brought a new horizon in the field of agriculture. Mariam Ahmed said the present government under the dynamic and farsighted leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has attached priority to agriculture and attained remarkable success in the field of promoting farming technology and digitization.Additional Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Shamsul Wadud said substantial and sustainable uses of modern technologies are the precondition to make the country self-reliant in food through facing all the existing challenges, including the adverse impact of climate change. He added that the DAE under its National Agricultural Technology Program has been operating FIAC in various UPs aimed at providing modern agriculture information and messages to the grassroots farmers. Around 12 types of services, including some emergency ones, are being provided to the grassroots farmers for their benefits. Counseling to farmers in hard-to-reach areas over phone and WhatsApp has become important.

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