Extending its expert support to the Government of Punjab in the latter’s ‘Empowerment of Kissan through Digital & Financial Inclusion’ initiative, Telenor Pakistan and Department of Agriculture – Punjab have launched the Connected Agriculture Program for Punjab (CAPP). The program aims to resolve the longstanding challenges faced by the Pakistani farmers through a suite of digital solutions that improve their access to information, financial resources, and market besides enhancing supply chain efficiency.
Under CAPP’s mAgri ecosystem, a suite of Android apps including onboarding, mobile wallet, weather, crop calendar, video on demand, expert opinion, marketplace, supply chain tracking, and agriculture subsidy will be designed by Telenor Pakistan and Inbox Business Technologies. In the first phase of the project, up to 110,000 mobile phones with said apps preinstalled as well as Telenor GSM and data SIMs with special packages, will be disbursed.
Since a majority of the farmers also need education on the use of the mechanism, around 500 on-ground training sessions will be conducted in 72 facilitation centers to train 25,000 farmers across 144 Tehsils of Punjab. CAPP also comes with an incentive program for the ‘most connected’ farmers whose engagement will be gauged on most mobile notification views, most time spent on apps, most tutorials/videos viewed, most transactions made through Marketplace, and most number of queries generated for experts.
“We at Telenor Pakistan, being one of the largest cellular operators and mobile financial services providers in the rural areas of the Punjab, believe that we are the natural partners for the Government of Punjab in their efforts to uplift the status of the Pakistani farmers,” said Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO Telenor Pakistan. “Given that we already have a dedicated business unit focusing on mobile agriculture and enabling digital solutions for the agriculture value chain, we hope to support further development of this sector for the empowerment and inclusion of the Pakistani farmers through CAPP and our extended mAgri services,” he added.
We are aware of the challenges faced by our Pakistani farmer with growing crops, raising livestock, and struggles to find reliable sources of information that have no vested interests,” said Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister Punjab. “The Punjab Agriculture Department and PITB are fully aware of these issues and how they result in significant productivity and financial yield gaps between the small-holder farmers and the progressive ones and hence affect their ability to improve their livelihoods. CAPP may contribute greatly to our ‘Empowerment of Kissan through Digital & Financial Inclusion’ initiative and we are confident in our program partners, especially Telenor Pakistan, for the project’s success,” he added.
“CAPP incorporates a unique 3E strategy to engage the farmers i.e. Educate, Engage, and Excite,” said Dr. Umar Saif, Chairman, PITB. “The services under the project will be supplemented by a dedicated Call Centre Helpline and a Digital Operations Control Centre. We at PITB and the government of Punjab will be able to keep full track of CAPP’s success and progress via a dedicated portal featuring a user-friendly dashboard with real-time visual data and analytics on farmer listing profiles, feedback, transactional reports, loan performance reports, farmer listing profiles, and complaint reporting. It will be for the first time ever that we have all the vital information at our fingertips. In addition to seeing where we are going with the project, we will be able to make informed decisions that are essential to transformation of our agricultural landscape,” he added.
“We are proud to collaborate with the Government of Punjab and Telenor Pakistan to launch the Connected Agriculture Program for Punjab (CAPP),” said Mr. Shahid Mustafa, President & CEO, Telenor Microfinance Bank. “Being aware of the challenges faced by our agricultural sector and farmers today despite being the backbone of Pakistan’s economy and society, we are delighted to partner-up with the Punjab Agriculture Department to make a difference in the lives of more than half a million households associated with agriculture by providing them easy access to formal and credible credit resources through this program. Besides helping them improve their standard of living, the program will help Pakistani farmers improve their farming practices and increase their agricultural yield,” he added.
It is pertinent to note that Pakistan’s primary natural resources have been cultivable land and water emphasized by 34% of the land under cultivation and with roughly 43% of the labor force (64% of households) employed in the agriculture sector accounting for 21% of GDP. Punjab, being the most populous province, contributes roughly 70% of Pakistan’s agriculture produce where approximately 60% of the farmers hold less than 5 acres of land.
In today’s world, mobile is the force behind every emerging innovation changing lifestyles. Keeping the aforementioned farmers’ challenges in mind, mobile technology offers immense potential to make a huge difference. Mobile agricultural services are becoming more valuable for development because they can increase the reach, while reducing the costs, of implementing livelihoods programs. Programs like CAPP can play a key part in improving access to knowledge and farming practices and linking farmers to markets.