Basharat develops app to help apple growers
Technology has made its way to every aspect of our day-to-day life, be it our kitchens, offices, schools, or any other sphere of life. The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) driven online platforms are aiming to make our life easy and increase our productivity in every field. The field of farming is no different as new machinery, online tools are making their way into our orchards as well.
Basharat Ahmed Bhat, a Srinagar-based researcher is aiming to revolutionize apple cultivation by providing a smart app to farmers which will change the way apple cultivation is done in Kashmir.
Basharat says that given the fact that apple is a principal export product that our farmers produce, the absence of the right data and on-spot farming updates has inflicted losses on our farmers. In a bid to find a solution and give farmers a mobile application for the same, Basharat came up with an AI-driven Decision Support system in the form of a mobile application called ‘Apple Doc’.
“The app is going to provide real-time information and expert help on weather advisory, use of chemicals, soil sampling and all other information. Our aim is to let the farmers know what kind of farming approach to take based on their farm soil, what kind of chemicals fertilizer to use or avoid when to go for pesticides, and how to prepare for bad weather, etc. All this information will help our orchardists to increase the apple produce and most importantly cut the costs of production,” Basharat said.
Basharat has completed his PhD in data science and Postdoc from New Zealand. He said that he observed that here lack of the right information at right time has affected the production of apples in Kashmir and through his application, he wanted to overcome that.
He said that through the collaboration with SKUAST Kashmir, he was able to come up with the mobile application called Apple Doc.
“This is my brainchild and as a director of the company, I asked for funding for the same. I received the funding via the Government of India’s department of biotechnology. The funds were provided under a government scheme called Birac-Big Scheme. After completing these formalities SKUAST provided me with the space to carry out my work. They also provided all the expert help. My application provides the farmers with online and offline expert help from scientists and other agriculture experts. All this is made possible through the help of SKUAST experts,” he said.
He said that officials like Professor Haroon Rashid, VC of the SKAUST, Professor Nazir Ahmed Ganai, and other experts have been very instrumental in making the project successful. While discussing how the app helps the farmers, Basharat said that most the orchardists go for the same techniques irrespective of the weather and soil condition. He said that the app provides farmers with a customized plan of farming.
“The app is connected with satellite data; it gives a farmer an orchard specific data. It tells him when to spry fertilizers and pesticides based on the particular weather of the area. It tells him when to stop watering orchards based on the moisture content of the soil and also prepares him for dry spells. Most of the farmers use general pesticides and fertilizers, the app will tell you exactly what to use, how to use, and how much to use. It helps farmers to cut the cost and chemical burden. In addition to this, the app has roped in soil scientists, experts from Entomology, fruit science, pathology, and Agricultural methodology so that the best help can be provided. For the remote areas, experts from district level Krishi Vigyan Kendra have been roped in,” he said.
Basharat said that recently lot of apple produce was lost due to untimely snowfall in Kashmir, he said his app will prepare farmers for every such condition with real-time data. He said that with a single click of a mobile, farmers can call on experts, and connect with them via online mode also.
“A lot of issues are faced as our farmers are unprepared for weather conditions. This app will provide hourly weather updates to the farmers. Farmers also invest a lot in over usage of chemicals, the app will help in cutting down that too. The use of random chemicals will also be stopped by providing exact data and expert opinions. This will help in increasing the produce at an efficient cost and by going for scientific driven apple production,” Basharat said.
He said that the app is very user-friendly and won’t need much technical expertise to operate. Basharat said that farmers will have to register through a few steps, upload their pictures and create a password to operate the app securely.
“A farmer will input his credentials and his orchard-specific inputs. It will help in providing real-time and orchard-specific data. The app will provide information via SMS after you input your mobile number. This will help farmers to receive updates even if there is no internet connectivity,” he said.
The app has been recently launched for Android users and Basharat said that reviews from farmers helped in making the app better with each passing day. Basharat said that farmers here are investing extra money and effort while as in abroad more production is attained with less cost and effort. He said he is aiming to add other farm produce like rice, cherry, and walnut to this project and provide help to other farmers.
Basharat said that as the world is moving towards intelligent farming, his app is a step towards realizing the same in Kashmir. He said that through his endeavour he wants to contribute through the technology and help farmers realize the dream of scientific-driven apple production in Kashmir.