Keeping farmers in the picture

orientation girl

In an isolated agricultural area five hours out of Dhaka, where floods and poverty are commonplace, Rimi is worried about her cow. The cow was a huge investment, and Rimi has noticed several bloated ticks attached to its neck. Help could come from a five-year partnership between Monash University’s  Faculty  of  Information  Technology,  Oxfam, and local Bangladeshi organisations. They aren’t vets. But they do know systems and technology.

Many rural Bangladeshi women work as farmers, minding crops and cattle on their own while their husbands work in the city. What they lack is information. The women want access to weather warnings, real-time help during natural disasters, and family health advice.

Monash University’s Dr Larry Stillman recently returned from a regular field visit to Bangladesh, where he met some of the women involved in the project.

The team is working with the community to assess its needs and develop a range of technologies and systems, including information centres to which the community can connect.

“We were speaking about the potential uses for smartphones, when one of the women figured it out. ‘I could take a selfie of my cow!’ she said. If she sent through the photo and talked to the information centre we’re developing, the vet attached to the project could potentially provide a diagnosis in voice, text and pictures. It would be almost instantaneous and also shareable in the future with hundreds of thousands of people,” Dr Stillman said.