Dimitra Brings AgTech Solutions to Nepal
Nepal relies heavily on subsistence farming techniques and more than 60% of its population is engaged in farming related activities. Food insecurity continues to be a major issue for Nepalese communities and food imports into Nepal have increased six-fold over the last decade. Nepalese smallholder farmers, like many other nations, are also struggling to navigate increasingly erratic rainfall patterns, climatic change and other barriers to achieving year-round crop success. All of these things combined have greatly impacted Nepalese farmers profitability and their bottom line on agricultural exports.
Dimitra Incorporated has partnered with three leading Nepalese agricultural organizations; Nepal Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd. (NMC), Jeevan Bikas Samaj (JBS) and Nepal Krishi Care Pvt Ltd. Dimitra is providing advanced agricultural technology solutions and will introduce regenerative crop and livestock methods to Nepalese smallholder farms. Dimitra’s goal is to enhance Nepalese farmers’ productivity, increase Nepalese farmers household incomes, and introduce sustainable farming methods.
Jeevan Bikas Samaj (JBS) is a national-level NGO in Nepal established to improve marginalized people’s socio-economic and cultural circumstances.
Nepal Krishi Care Pvt Ltd (NKC) provides solutions for the value supply chain problem in the cereal sectors of agriculture within Nepal.
The Nepal Multipurpose Cooperative Society Ltd. (NMC) aims to raise members’ economic and living standards through access to agricultural technology to foster self-reliance and mutual support.
Sustainable Agriculture in the Digital Age
By providing ongoing training and technology coupled with cutting-edge applications, Dimitra aims to help local farmers create a more effective seed to sale process in agricultural areas of cereals, vegetables and seed production, as well as streamlining processes in livestock and fishing sectors. The following Dimitra modules will be used in Nepal; My Farm, My Crop and My Livestock, in conjunction with sensor management, as well as satellite and weather modules.
Fair and equal access to Agtech solutions will help local farmers monitor fields, improve soil conditions, increase water outputs, reduce disease, and has the potential to help Nepalese farmers respond quickly to environmental threats and provide effective solutions. Dimitra anticipates that by using machine learning data combined with algorithms it will help Nepalese smallholder farmers increase output yields each and every year. Working in collaboration with NMC, JBS and NKC, Dimitra will provide a holistic implementation plan and will monitor the ongoing progress.
Here’s what Dimitra CEO and founder, Jon Trask, had to say about this exciting new partnership:
“I anticipate a long and fruitful partnership with the JBS, NKC, and NMC in Nepal and look forward to working with all the Nepalese farmers. I expect we will learn a lot from each other along the way in this exciting new journey, and my sincere hope is that we can bring new agricultural concepts and solutions to Nepal, and that we can also bring our knowledge from other countries we are working with to Nepal and this will help Nepalese farmers. I am also excited to learn more about Nepalese Tea and Cardamom and other crops in Nepal, and about Nepal’s unique agricultural methods and markets.”
Export Challenges for Smallholders in Nepal
High-value crops with profitable export potential in Nepal include large cardamom and orthodox tea. However, Smallholder farmers in Nepal work in difficult mountainous terrains, including areas where access to irrigation and unpredictable climate can lead to low yields. There has been limited access to high-quality agricultural inputs and technologies to track the progress from seed to sale and this has had the effect of lower output yields and operational waste.
Tea production is not only integral to Nepalese culture, it’s a valuable crop that contributes greatly to the local and national economy. Typically grown in the foothills of Nepal, tea production involves meticulous farming methods dating back hundreds of years. More than 80% of orthodox tea produced in Nepal is exported to Europe and North America, but local farmers lack direct access to international markets. As a result, they are forced to rely on middlemen who move stock through India which drastically reduces profitability and Nepalese smallholder farmers remain vulnerable to external power dynamics.
Large cardamom, makes up roughly 5% of current exports from Nepal, and this is also mainly sent through India for export. As with orthodox tea, export potential is marred by Nepal’s landlocked geography, limited access to India’s transport infrastructure, strict food safety regulations, and complex customs clearing procedures. A smallholder farmer who is producing large cardamom in a remote location in Nepal may overcome all growth and harvesting obstacles, only to face setbacks when the time comes to sell their product. Coupled with poor market facilities, a lack of auction platforms and inadequate warehouse storage facilities, means that one of Nepal’s most valuable exports rarely makes it directly to world markets, and the end result is that Nepalese farmers suffer.
Streamlining Exports With Blockchain Technology
Streamlining export processes with blockchain technology can assist farmers in many ways. For example, blockchain technology can be used to digitize and automate shipping processes and compliance documentation. “Track and Trace” solutions provide real-time data, creating digital footprints for Nepalese farmers, international consumers, and also helps governments keep track of yields from seed to sale. Traceability also fosters trust, communication, and transparency between players, which also greatly reduces expenses and ensures accountability and minimizes potential pain points along the value supply chain.
Another example of where blockchain technology can help would be securing and navigating funding. This process is often complicated by long commutes to facilities like banks in metropolitan city centres from remote locations. Blockchain lending solutions facilitate direct access to funding, education, and trade right to farmers’ doorsteps. Built-in scalability in digital formats creates long-term sustainable solutions for real-world problems smallholder farmers face every day.
Dimitra aims to provide smallholder farmers in Nepal easy access to blockchain technology, IoT sensors and actionable insights based on machine learning that will create a highly effective and sustainable supply chain management platform from start to finish. By incorporating digital technologies with agricultural practices, this has the potential to transform Nepalese Tea and Cardamom outputs. By automating sales and marketing processes with these new digital technologies it will help connect Nepalese farmers directly to otherwise unreachable markets.
Paving the Way Forward With Digital Farming Solutions
Dimitra’s partnership with NMC, JBS and NKC will help smallholder farmers in Nepal secure a more productive and sustainable future. Nepal’s farming communities can also be a transformative force within Nepal and this has the potential to increase Nepal’s GDP while also helping feed vulnerable populations in the face of climate change.