Salam Howlader a father of five is a farmer from Char Memania, Hizla, Barisal, one of the remotest areas of the country. The unprecedented tidal flood in this char’s is discouraging a lot of farmers in this region to invest in cash crop. Hence besides cultivating cash crop he and other farmers started farming cucumber in all the high lands in their community.
But this year the farmers faced one problem when the crops reached flowering stage – though the plants seem healthy and there were enough flowers – there were no signs of fruits.
Since this was his only source of income Salam was very alarmed and wanted this problem to be diagnosed so that he could take appropriate measures to solve the problem.
But being a smallholder farmer it was not easy for Salam to get hold of the local extension agent and request him to visit his field.
He went to the local input retailer who recommended him some expensive hormones which he could not afford.
He then got to know about the Farmer Query System (FQS) of the USAID Ag Extension Project through the field facilitator (FF).
The FQS is an ICT solution where farmers can place a query directly to experts, through a local infomediary. This infomediary, a local person is now empowered with a mobile-based application which connects him/ her to a remote agro expert, who can then respond to the query, through a phone call, SMS or email.
Salam Howlader got interested and wanted to have solutions through the FQS.
He shared his problem with the infomediary and the infomediary then registered Salam Howlader into the system through the mobile application. For registration the informediary inserted the basic information and a picture of identification of the farmer.
He then took pictures of the plants and inserted other related information. As soon as the information is submitted, it gets recorded and is sent to an INTERACTIVE WEB-DASHBOARD over mobile internet which is then viewed by an agro-expert.
The expert, after scrutinizing Salam’s query and seeing the photo of the affected plants, determined that the pollinations of these plants were not happening properly.
The expert suggested Salam to use a technical process named ‘Hand Pollination’ by which the male flower is rubbed manually with the female flowers. Salam applied this easy and manual technique to his plants and in few days he saw results – he saw fruits in the plants!
This technique was not just effective – it did not cost him any money also. Seeing this, the other farmers also applied the same technique to their plants and they too got positive results.
Within few days Salam harvested the crops. He kept some for domestic consumption and the rest he sold for better price. He used the money for his children’s education. Salam and other farmers are very impressed and thankful to the Ag Extension Project and for their ICT applications.