Agri-Augment: An Immersive technology-based solution for enhanced understanding
Smallholder farmers are vulnerable to climate change and variability, which has led to decreased crop yields and incomes, and increased food insecurity. Solutions that enable farmers to adapt exist but have limited adoption. To address this, we will use augmented reality to improve understanding, and therefore render advisory more actionable, resulting in reduced yield loss, incomes and decrease the overall risk of food security.
How do we achieve food security and promote sustainable agriculture by 2050, if more than fifty percent of the world’s food is produced by smallholder farmers, who are vulnerable to climate and hunger? Food security impacts everyone in the world. There are around 500 million smallholder farmers across the globe, and a total of 2 billion livelihoods that depend on sustaining productive agriculture.
Nepal is ranked as the fourth most vulnerable country to climate change and variability. 75% of Nepalese farmers are smallholders, involved in subsistence agriculture, and facing high levels of food insecurity but 80% of them are not currently reached by traditional agricultural resources.
A potential intervention to render good agricultural practice advisory more actionable, and increase the chances of its adoption, is by providing the advisory in an extremely immersive format. Seeing is doing, therefore once the farmer is able to see and visualize the information, the chances of it being acted upon increase multifold. Augmented reality takes a real image of the world around us and overlays information, in such a manner that it seems as if the overlaid information is present in the real world. We will develop a mobile based application Agri-Augment that uses augmented reality to provide information about good agricultural practices.
The augmented reality-based solution is designed to benefit hard to reach, subsistence smallholder farmers in adapting to risks caused by climate change and variability. Our solution increases the access of actionable information and advisory, which otherwise would not have been possible.
Augmented reality technology is still in its infancy and its potential is still being explored across different domains including agriculture. The use of this innovative technology reaching previously unreached populations as a learning tool makes our solution extremely unique.
Our research suggests that we are the only solution that leverages augmented reality to provide agricultural knowledge/simulations. Other apps exist like Smart Krishi but are only information-based.
As mentioned previously, since augmented reality is a new technology, its potential applications in advisory dissemination are still being explored. An app providing information around agriculture but on an augmented reality solution has not been tested yet.
The impact of our solution is to reach geographically isolated smallholder farmers in Nepal to adopt sustainable farming practices to adapt to climate change, ensure consistent and productive production yields, and increase food security. We will measure our impact through the number of people who download the app, how many people are active, amount of time people spend interacting with the app, number of sustainable practices adopted, and the change in farmers’ yields over time.
Our plan of action is to continue prototyping with potential adopters of our solution. We will adjust the final design of our visualization tool based on user feedback. We will also work with an app developer to bring our idea to fruition. Lastly, we will identify a cooperative to pilot the app.
To further our idea, we will need help with rapid prototyping and a business plan.