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Data-driven Agriculture

Jinnah's Ideals

“The People of Pakistan are mostly simple folk, poor, not very well educated and with few interests beyond the cultivation of their fields. As I say, they are poor; but they come from hardy, vigorous stock, and I think without boasting I can claim that they are brave. They make good soldiers and have won renown in many battles. They have fought side by your side in two world wars. For the present, agriculture is our mainstay. With a population of about 22% of what was formerly British India, Pakistan produces about 33% of the total tonnage of rice and about 40% of the total tonnage of wheat. In essential foods, we are, therefore, comparatively fortunate. We also have some important commercial crops, such as jute, cotton and tobacco... It gives us the great benefit of earning large sums of foreign exchange will be very valuable to us setting up and expanding our industries.

- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam

- Speech: Pakistan and her people 

- Context: Broadcast to the people of Australia / 19th Feb, 1948

 

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Deeper reflections

The vast majority of people of Third-World economies are poor, simple and not very educated and Pakistan is no different. While Pakistanis may be poor, we are brave, resilient, generous and good-natured folks. The most distinctive feature about Pakistanis is their hospitable and charitable nature. Pakistan contributes more than one percent of its GDP to charity which is comparable to much richer nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom. Pakistan is also home to one of the largest refugee populations in the world and continues to display a spirit of resourcefulness despite the scarcity of wealth. 

 

Some philosophers claim that the process of modernization begins with peasant revolutions that succeed. The word “revolution” has notions of “great uprising”, “rebellion” and “insurgency” associated with it. 

 

Jinnah’s Pakistan asserts that in modern times, with the advance of digital tools, revolution ought to be perceived only in economic terms, an outcome of a well-directed and organized entrepreneurial endeavor that empowers the peasant class. The internet has democratized access to knowledge, and it is no longer the national bourgeoisie or the native elite manufactured by the European colonists who will be the future entrepreneurs of developing countries. The American wave of global digital democratization has and continues to empower the down-trodden “natives” of the Third-World. 

While the Third-World suffers from a fractured past and the forced integration into the international market system, the externally determined superimposition of modern technology upon pre-capitalist social and economic infrastructures and the consequent transformation of land and labor into commodities -- the power of the internet is flipping this historical context on its head. Participation in the free market via digital tools poses no significant barrier, anyone with a smartphone can partake in economic endeavors for personal economic progress and while accumulation of capital for the middle class in the colonial setting was an impossible phenomenon, with decolonization and independence paired with the power of the internet, the great emancipation is occurring with stupendous force and vigor. 

 

The Citizens of Pakistan plan to empower the Pakistani farmer with technology and disrupt the $83Bn Pakistani agriculture market. For the producer of food, to have to feed others before one could feed one’s own seems a total reversal of good order. Pakistan’s national prosperity is inextricably linked with the development of its agricultural sector. 

 

37% of Pakistan’s labor force is dedicated to Agriculture which contributes to 23% of the country’s GDP. The Pakistani farmer is accustomed to a pre-capitalist lifestyle, dependent upon natural and social forces which are impervious to human needs, unyielding to effort or reasoning -- it’s time to change that. 

01

Solve supply chain inefficiencies

The market is fragmented with supply chain inefficiencies and layers of middle-men between farmers and retailers, depriving them of fair prices.

02

Increase crop yield through advanced technologies

Farmers are not equipped with the latest tools to maximize crop yield and reduce crop damage.

03

Build digital financial services for farmers

Pakistani farmers lack access to capital and don’t have a seamless way to apply for a loan in the absence of credit history  

1. Solve supply chain inefficiencies

  • Retailers need to hit consistent supply volume and have full basket needs to fulfill consumer demand.  

  • Farmers find it hard to hit high supply volumes consistently and predictably and face challenges from natural forces and perishability of produce that they have to rely on demand aggregator middle-men and marketplaces to liquidate.  

  • The agriculture marketplace in Pakistan involves 5 layers of middlemen with 5% upcharge in price in each layer along with an uptick in transport cost at each stage. 

  • This results in a 140% markup to the final retail price, which means the farmer is grossly underpaid and is toiling hard for low-margins. This means by design, the farmer is not incentivized to research and innovate his production processes to generate profit. 

  • The Citizens of Pakistan plan to solve this by building a digital marketplace that streamlines the connectivity between farmer and retailer by operating as a collection center for the farmers and last mile logistics for retailers. This will consolidate a fragmented market, provide data transparency for farmers and retailers and improve margins for all parties involved. 

  • Pakistan mobile adoption landscape: 

    • 51% of mobile subscribers in Pakistan are using smartphones

    • Pakistan has the 4th largest smartphone user base in the region and 18th largest smartphone user base globally. 

    • Startups like “Jiye Kisan” and "Tazha" have already started solving this problem and various other well-funded Pakistan tech firms are marching forward to improve the landscape.  

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Conventional marketplace with live auctioning and various middlemen between farmers and retailers

2. Increase crop yield through advanced technology

The Citizens of Pakistan plan to import American tech such as Climate FieldView’s leading digital farming software platform. 

We will enhance data collection from sensors on farming equipment and in the field. The data will empower machine learning models to help our farmers: 

  • Understand optimal weather and soil condition fertilizer levels

  • Become more informed on optimal seed selection

  • Detect early signs of disease

This will lead to smarter decision-making to increase yields and reap greater profits in a low-margin industry. We will train our local farmers to become well-versed in variable seed rating, fertility management, field health imagery and crop performance analysis. 

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Tracking every aspect of farmers field 

Further, drones will help us build Pakistan’s data-driven agriculture as they provide farmers with three types of detailed views:

  1. Seeing a crop from the air can reveal patterns that expose everything from irrigation problems to soil variation and even pest and fungal infestations that aren’t apparent at eye level. 

  2. Airborne cameras can take multispectral images, capturing data from the infrared as well as the visual spectrum, which can be combined to create a view of the crop that highlights differences between healthy and distressed plants in a way that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

  3. A drone can survey a crop every week, every day, or even every hour. Combined to create a time-series animation, that imagery can show changes in the crop, revealing trouble spots or opportunities for better crop management. 

 

The Government of Pakistan can play a role here by inviting Agro-tech firms to partner with us in modernizing Pakistan’s agriculture, and granting first-movers privileged access to our agro-data, creating a win-win partnership for all involved. We invite all engineers and entrepreneurs to co-develop advanced sensors, imaging capabilities, and drones to empower the Pakistani farmer deserving of your help. 

 

This introduction, adoption and training of farmers on new technologies will build a culture of innovation and empower farmers to use new tools to become masters of their own economic destiny. 

3. Build digital financial services for farmers

Farmers experience limited access to working credit and find themselves in an exploitative debt cycle from an informal credit ecosystem that is designed to cripple the farmer instead of empowering them. 

We will build technology to provide micro-loans to people with a smartphone. Third-World economies suffer from lack of financial inclusion and this means, farmers don’t have formal lending history through a bank. Fintech apps can skip the formal history by investigating data from farmer’s smartphone and a loan application to determine if and how much to offer farmers.

These micro-loans will provide the capital needed for the farmer to run their operations and provide the financial space needed to focus on innovative methods to improve production vs. worrying about the family to feed and rent to pay.

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Pakistan should also find arbitrage opportunities to trade with countries with a decline in agricultural production such as South American and Caribbean regions. 

The Citizens of Pakistan recognize that prosperous farmers translate to prosperous Pakistan and we will deploy capital, build tools, invite global partners and work towards empowering our farmers.

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