WITH the launching of the Farmer’s Market App on the horizon, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications sees that the possibilities for the boosting of agriculture through Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are endless.
The application, FarmersMarket.GY, is an online trading platform for agriculture produce and will officially be launched on July 15, 2019 in Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice.
The app was birthed out of a hackathon competition hosted in 2017 by the ministry and was won by local software company, Innovative Systems Inc. (INNOSYS).
In partnership with the ministry over the years, INNOSYS have spearheaded the development of the app which allows for the selling and buying of all forms of produce countrywide.
Speaking with the Guyana Chronicle on Tuesday, Business Analyst working on the project, Tamika Inglis, stated that the set-up of the app is similar to that of an Amazon account.
If someone is selling produce, the application allows the person to upload photos of such, the quantity and price for interested buyers.
There are options for consumers to communicate with farmers for exclusive bargaining; delivery or pick-up arrangements or any additional queries.
Thus far, over 100 persons in the areas of Bartica, Berbice, Linden and elsewhere have been targeted through information sessions and training in the use the app.
Extension Officers of the Guyana Marketing Corporation (GMC) and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI), who regularly come in contact with farmers, have also been trained.
NAREI is operating as the third-party body which vets each farmer for quality produce and services throughout their operation on the app.
Inglis said that, thus far, the training has been well-received, especially by farmers who see the app as an opportunity for them to locate markets for their surplus in produce.
The statistics which are also available on the app can be used as guidelines to farmers on what types of produce are in demand or in need in the market.
“Let’s say you, as a farmer, want to plant pumpkin; you can actually go on the app to see if pumpkin is needed, if it’s in demand, which other farmers are planting pumpkin. It makes no sense that you have all the farmers planting pumpkin [and] now you can look at the stats and say ‘okay, I’m not going to plant pumpkin, I’m going to plant boulanger or something else’, giving yourself a little niche where people can come to you,” she explained.
Likewise, the app can be beneficial to citizens in need of a specific type of produce minus the hassle of searching far and wide.
Inglis pointed out: “If you know to yourself that you have a farmer living near to you, before you leave your house to go and find out that he doesn’t have an item, you can just go on the app and put in the order for what you can get from him and just go pick it up.”
The stakeholders involved are advancing their vision even further whereby plans are being put in place to liaise with delivery services countrywide, bringing an alternative to the self-pick-up option.
“We’re going to put out that expression of interest and we want persons to come on board. We already have, for example, HeroCart which would have shown interest in the app,” she said.
“It’s not limited. If you and a group of friends want to join and create a [delivery] company to provide transportation, we welcome you. This would definitely be job creation,” she added.
Meanwhile, understanding that many elderly farmers may not be tech-savvy or able to become so within a short period of time, the ministry encourages “family farming”.
This is where the younger generation within the family can be asked to operate the app on behalf of the older.
It is also the ministry’s intention to link local farmers with international markets. It is actively pursuing transportation arrangements by air for the transport of local produce through the app.
FarmersMarket.GY has the potential to be the leading one if its kind in the Caribbean, setting the standard for the incorporation of ICT in agriculture in the Region.
Inglis believes that the efforts of the Ministry of Telecommunications to encourage Guyanese to become more involved in the ICT sector will set the stage for them to benefit from Guyana’s bright future, full of opportunities.
“We must have a large amount of Guyanese who can say ‘I can apply for that job because I’ve already had the requisite training, I have the knowledge, I have the background’. And, that’s our goal, to ensure that the entire country is ICT-literate,” she said.
After FarmersMarket.GY is launched on Monday, based on the feedback received, the ministry, in collaboration with its partners, will conduct further improvements where necessary.
Although the app is only accessible through a web link, stakeholders are working towards transitioning this to be accessible through mobile platforms such as Google Play.
Meanwhile the next hackathon to be hosted by the ministry will take place from October 25-27, 2019 and will give Guyanese yet another chance to impact a specific sector through the use of innovative technology.