AgroTech in Bangladesh: How Technology is Disrupting Traditional Agriculture Practices- Part I

    LightCastle Analytics Wing
    LightCastle Analytics Wing
    AgroTech in Bangladesh

    Agriculture accounts for around 13.6% of the GDP of Bangladesh and employs about 40.6% of the total labour force of the country.[1] As technology has progressed, so has its uses in agriculture and this has brought about new winds of change in the sector. Although Bangladesh has been a bit late in adopting these changes, the country is gradually starting to see a rise in tech-based solutions for agriculture. These new agricultural practices are helping all relevant stakeholders in a multitude of ways.

    The use of agro tech in Bangladesh can be divided into 5 broad sectors: Information Tech, Mechanization, Market linkages, Access to finance and Advanced Farming Techniques. Multiple companies in Bangladesh are operating in these market spaces with innovative solutions.

    Name of GroupCore FunctionsCompanies and Technologies in this Space
    Information-Based Agro TechUses information to leverage better production and prices at both farmer and consumer ends7676, e-Farmers’ Hub, Farmer Query System by mPower
    Market Linkage Connects consumers to certified farms to provide better produceParmeeda, KhaasFood, Fish Bangla
    Mechanisation Makes farming easier and less labour intensiveTractors and other traditional tech, Seedling guns, New irrigation methods
    Access to FinanceMakes funds available for farmers and transactions easieriFarmer, digital and mobile financial services
    Advanced Farming TechniquesUses new techniques to increase farm profitabilityLow-Cost Greenhouses, Hydroponic Farming 
    Figure: Different types of companies operating in the different segments

    The first part of this series discusses information based and market linkage technologies.

    Information-Based Agro Tech

    The main purpose of companies working in this space is to make more information available for all relevant parties so that more yield and quality produce is ensured. This article breaks down how different companies operate in this space through a variety of offerings.

    7676

    7676 is one of the earliest agricultural helplines in Bangladesh. Although it was brought to the market by Banglalink, at present it has been branded as Krishibarta (27676) for Robi customers and Krishi Sheba (27676) for Grameenphone customers.[4]

    It is easy to use and can be used by anyone with a cell phone connection by just calling up the helpline

    Stakeholder Benefits

    The helpline is easily accessible to almost all farmers and does not require a smartphone. However as smartphones have gotten cheaper and more popular, new technological solutions are replacing phone call based services like 7676.

    e-Farmers’ Hub

    E- Farmers’ Hub is a digital platform created by Syngenta Foundation to help farmers and entrepreneurs keep track of agricultural inputs and outputs in real time. As of 2018, the project is working across 45 Farmers’ Hubs (FH) and has benefitted around 30,000 farming households so far. Owing to its success in Bangladesh, it is soon to be expanded to Senegal.[2]

    Stakeholder Benefits

    • The owners can access real time profit-loss statements prepared by e-Famers’ hub services after inputting their invoices. This is combined with advice from the platform and enables owners to cut costs, reduce wastes and increase profits.
    • The owners receive market information through SMS and are able to get good prices for their produce
    • Buyers can use the platform to make purchases and get better produce at better prices
    Working Procedure of e-Farmers’ Hub - Lightcastle Partners & SFSA
    Figure: Working Procedure of e-Farmers’ Hub
    • The information collected also saves crops as it helps experts analyze diseases, threats of low production etc.

    Farmer Query System by mPower

    FQS (Farmer Query System) is a mobile app-based remote query system where farmers can ask for consultation from unbiased agricultural experts.[3]

    Working Procedure

    1. Image-based Consultation: The farmers send images via smartphones and the experts can provide accurate recommendations based on the provided information
    2. Phone call and SMS-based services: Since connectivity is an issue, the farmers can get consultation through text messages and phone calls as well

    Stakeholder Benefits

    • The farmers do not have to rely on intuition to solve crop problems and can get accurate advice for saving their produce
    • The experts now have added reach and are not forced to incur transportation costs during every trip for consultation

    Market Linkage Technology

    Getting fresh and authentic food has been one of the biggest concerns in Bangladesh for a long time, some companies have used that opportunity to directly deliver farm grown food to the consumers’ tables with guarantee of good agricultural practices. 

    Parmeeda

    Parmeeda strives to deliver  fresh organic produce directly to the consumer through their supply chain management system that has been built in collaboration with different producer bases. The orders can be placed through website and mobile application.

    The platform has a large variety of offerings. The chief categories are:

    1. Fish and Meat
    2. Grain Oil and Spices
    3. Fruits and Vegetables
    4. Honey and Health Drink
    5. Homemade
    6. Dairy 
    7. Eco Products (Jute, betel and clay products)
    8. Ayurveda

    Although the platform offers a huge variety of products, there are user complaints about the prices being higher than the market which has led to some customer dissatisfaction.

    Khaasfood

    Khaasfood is an e-commerce platform coupled with a chain of brick-and-mortar stores that promises pure and safe food. It currently has 10 physical outlets including one in Chittagong and one in Cumilla. Khaasfood has a wide range of offerings with more focus on the grocery sector. Their chief products are: 

    1. Grocery
    2. Honey
    3. Pickles
    4. Dry fish
    5. Fruits
    6. Tonic
    7. Meat

    All the packaged food including rice are branded under the Khaasfood brand and sold at their physical outlets too.

    FishBangla

    FishBangla is a business with an exclusive focus on the meat and fish market. Although they do not sell groceries, they do offer around 50 types of fish and different types of meat. Their offerings according to their website are:

    1. Fish: River Fish, Sea fish and Fish Fillet
    2. Meat: Beef, Mutton, Chicken and Duck
    3. Services: The platform offers cutting services for fish to increase customer convenience.

    The second part will focus on the remaining technology and the way forward for the sector.

    Eqra Mohammad Resalat Ohee,  Content Writer and Farah Hamud KhanSenior Business Consultant & Project Manager, at LightCastle Partners, have prepared the write-up. For further clarifications, contact here: [email protected]

    References

    LightCastle Analytics Wing

    LightCastle Analytics Wing is the research division of LightCastle Partners. It is tasked with producing periodic reports on the different sectors of the economy, analyzing trends in markets and making methodical, thorough and intelligent analysis to improve strategy and drive business growth.