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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s agriculture sector is awaiting a digital revolution, as digital technology can harness the full potential of local agriculture sector, said Aamer Ejaz, Jazz’s Chief Digital and Strategy Officer.

“It is quite unfortunate that the sector is performing well below its potential. Some of the problems that the farmers face, including crop yield, can be solved through the right use of digital technology”, said Ejaz, while talking to media persons, here on Wednesday.

He said that according to the data available, the agriculture sector produces close to 19 percent of the total output of the country and employs around 38 percent of the population, higher than all other sectors. Produce from this sector not only supplements other industries such as fertiliser, machine manufacturing, leather, etc but also brings in precious foreign reserves.

To introduce the benefits of digital technology, Ejaz believes two barriers need to be overcome, “For starters, the value-chain is pretty complex. We have big landowners who don’t farm themselves but have control over what and how the farmer grows. Then there are suppliers and distributors. The second problem is the lack of digital literacy amongst small farmers. For a digital revolution to take place, we need the entire value chain on the same page and solutions that are easy to adopt.” Talking about Jazz’s foray into AgriTech, Ejaz mentioned initiatives, including Bakhabar Kissan, a service over USSD and mobile application, launched to keep more than four million registered farmers informed about crops and the weather.

“Recently, we also launched a pilot project called Jazz Kamyab Kissan near Kasur, Punjab. This project explores advanced use cases like crop health through satellite imagery via an app-based solution. The idea is to provide hyper-local weather data for limited geographies. But due to a lack of digital literacy, we still need time to scale this project,” he added.

The operator is also exploring a pilot weather station installed on Jazz towers, including the possibility of commercial microwave link data towards better rain forecast. He further said that Jazz won the GSMA AgriTech Grant 2020 to help digitalise Pakistan’s agriculture sector.

“We are exploring unaddressed Agri enterprise solutions, where we partner with other AgriTech providers to launch an integrated platform called Jazz AgriTech. Through this platform, we will provide relevant crop information, e-commerce and the ability to procure microfinance loans/credit. The goal is to offer 360-degree Agri solutions under one window to uplift a farmer’s lifestyle.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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