The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) together with the Department of Agrarian Development Sri Lanka, launched the GeoGoviya monitoring and feedback system in a virtual kick-off workshop held recently.
Sri Lanka’s agriculture sector is progressing towards better coordination and information sharing through data and information communication technologies (ICT). A cloud-based platform, GeoGoviya will be the first of its kind in the country, and could potentially be used across various departments and ministries for a unified coordination and response mechanism to support agricultural production and rural development.
Delivering the welcome remarks, R. Vijayakumar, Commissioner, Department of Agrarian Development, said, “This is a good opportunity for the department as we are currently working with manual systems, making it difficult for accurate national-level decision making regarding agricultural production and import policies. So we welcome a digital system that helps officials make critical decisions.”
Stefan Uhlenbrook, Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems in his opening remarks said, “Eighty percent of Sri Lanka’s total food production is produced by about 1.6 million smallholder farmers, and whatever we can do to strengthen their resilience is very important. ICT is important for real time data to support policymakers and farmers with decisions on farmland, crops, yields and livestock that can strengthen smallholder resilience and productivity. Through this collaboration, we hope to benefit the Department and farmers to tackle future challenges arising with climate change.”
Smart farming has been promoted by national and international initiatives to tackle the challenges of agriculture in Sri Lanka. However, barriers such as lack of mobile phone connectivity, and poor usability and knowledge of ICT applications have contributed to the slow adoption and implementation of mobile phone-based agricultural services and digital agriculture.
Following a request from the Department of Agrarian Development, IWMI promoted the idea of advancing digital solutions using a cost-effective ICT-based platform to monitor and track crop performance. “The GeoGoviya mobile application will enable larger system capabilities for the Sri Lanka Government to measure, monitor and report on farm-level data,” said Giriraj Amarnath, Research Group Leader, Water Risks and Disaster, IWMI. “The data can also be used for better coordination among different ministries and departments to facilitate larger agricultural reforms such as providing bundled insurance solutions to farmers.”
The platform has been developed by Unmiti India, and its representative Praveen Kuruganti provided the participants with an overview of the solution architecture. The mobile application will go live in September, followed by the web application, dashboards and kickoff for the first year maintenance of the platform. On completion of the first year maintenance period, IWMI will hand over the platform to the Department of Agriculture Development.
Closing the meeting, Commissioner General, Department of Agriculture Development, A.H.M.I.Abeyrathna said, “In the Sri Lankan agriculture sector, data collection is very high, but the information we generate from that is poor. We require smart farming solutions with methods to generate accurate data and information, so I really appreciate IWMI’s collaboration with us to develop this platform.”
This project is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.