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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

The ‘smart’ agricultural revolution

The government of Bangladesh has always addressed the importance of agriculture

Update : 27 May 2023, 01:56 AM

Barind Tract, a lowland area in the northwest region of Bangladesh, is one of those cases where water scarcity is a significant challenge for an efficient production system. 

The extremely dry nature of the climate causes very little rainfall within that area, which fails to replenish the groundwater system correctly. 

As a result, it becomes an arid region and causes multiple challenges to small farmers by leading them into unsustainable livelihoods. 

Smart farming has always existed in other parts of the world. Developed countries like Australia, the United States, and the majority of European countries have always followed certain steps. 

Evidence shows that the gateway to all agricultural bottlenecks can be the emergence of a data-driven ecosystem for farmers and other stakeholders. 

Data-driven decision-making is pivotal to agriculture because different crops have diverse biodiversity. 

Moreover, granular data on rainfall patterns, water cycles, fertilizer requirements, and more are important to ensure a sustainable agricultural system. 

Big Data has also proven to be an effective technique for gathering and analyzing agricultural data from private and public stakeholders, social media platforms, sensors, GPS, and private and other internet sources. 

The use of technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and analytics will enable farmers to enhance the entire process in real-time significantly.

The government of Bangladesh has always addressed the importance of agriculture. Multiple initiatives have been developed within the public and private companies - but the tools have historically failed to reach the farmers in a scalable manner. 

Therefore, it is now more necessary than ever to develop models which have the potential to reach the farmers successfully. a2i (Aspire to Innovate) has always been a key driving force of the government's vision of digitization.

The emergence of Smart Bangladesh Vision 2041 has thus led a2i to take initiatives to accelerate the precise approach of incorporating a “smart” agriculture within Bangladesh, using 21st century tools and technology. 

For example, IoT-enabled livestock management takes the guesswork out of herd health. Using a wearable collar or tag, battery-powered sensors monitor the location, temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate of animals and wirelessly send the data in near-real-time to farmers' devices. 

This allows farmers to check in on the health and location of each individual animal in their herd from anywhere, as well as receive alerts if something falls outside of the normal range. 

Rather than physically check the vitals of each individual animal to see if an illness has spread, they know immediately which livestock is affected and which is not. 

Besides tracking health, livestock monitoring solutions can use GPS tracking to gather and store historical data on preferred grazing spots or use temperature tracking to determine the peak of the mating season.

Pest management is also a crucial tool for farmers to detect pests and suggest farmers accordingly. a2i proposes to re-design the platform to function in a more human-centric way to ensure that the farmers and extension officers address crop-related disease challenges seamlessly. 

IoT-enabled fish farms by the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) address the challenge of the imbalance of the water environment, the frequent occurrence of fish diseases, and the decline of aquatic product quality. 

IoT automation of fish farms will ensure proper communication and control of all the devices through internet-based smart management. 

The water quality monitoring system will monitor the water quality in real-time and thus reduce the cost of production - increasing efficiency and reducing human dependency. 

This will ultimately ensure sustainable development, economically and socially. 

Bangladesh has successfully achieved the vision of Digital Bangladesh by ensuring access to information for all citizens. Now, the time has arrived for a Smart Bangladesh where no one will be left behind. 

As the catalyst program by the government of Bangladesh, a2i will undoubtedly play a significant role in ushering in an era of “Smart Agriculture” in the whole of Bangladesh. 


Khaled Md Saifullah is a Program Assistant at a2i.

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