App be­ing de­vel­oped to link lo­cal farm­ers, int’l mar­kets

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

The Min­istry of Pub­lic Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (MoPT) will be work­ing along with the win­ning de­vel­oper of an app which would al­low lo­cal farm­ers to sell their pro­duce in a global on­line mar­ket place.

“While we have the plat­form there are a lot of hur­dles we need to cross be­fore we can make it some­thing that is us­able,” Julius Sim­mons, a team mem­ber of In­no­va­tive Sys­tems Inc., the win­ner of MoPT’s Code­sprint 2017, told Stabroek News on Fri­day.

“We won’t be do­ing this on our own and that is where the min­istry comes in … Once it [the app] is mar­keted, the sky is the limit be­cause there will be no per­son that can­not ac­cess the plat­form,” he added.

It was an­nounced on Fri­day af­ter­noon, at MoPT’s Camp Street of­fice, that the In­no­va­tive Sys­tems Inc. team was the win­ner of the com­pe­ti­tion, which the min­istry had launched in Au­gust, re­quir­ing a lo­cal team to de­velop an agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties trad­ing ex­change for lo­cal farm­ers.

The win­ning team won $300,000. Run­ners-up in the com­pe­ti­tion were the UB3 Me­dia team, which re­ceived $200,000, and In­tel­lec­tS­torm, which se­cured third place and $150,000 in prize money.

The teams were given three weeks to de­sign the app, which is ex­pected to bring to­gether pro­duc­ers, sell­ers and buy­ers of lo­cal pro­duce, such as veg­eta­bles, fruits and dairy prod­ucts, all in a sin­gle on­line mar­ket place.

Min­is­te­rial ad­vi­sor Lance Hinds in­formed that the min­istry in­tends to pro­vide the win­ner with the nec­es­sary re­sources to fin­ish de­vel­op­ing the prod­uct.

“The end prod­uct that will be put to work in Guyana [will] pro­vide an ef­fi­cient so­lu­tion to the very real farm-to-mar­ket prob­lems that farm­ers in this coun­try have been en­dur­ing since the 1990s,” a state­ment from the min­istry said.

“Added to this, is the re­al­ity of Guyana’s in­abil­ity to sat­isfy large or­ders for most grown in Guyana prod­ucts. Our man­u­fac­tur­ers, grow­ers and pro­ces­sors need as­sis­tance to broaden their ca­pac­i­ties to pro­duce and de­liver pro­duce in large quan­ti­ties in shorter time frames, with lower pro­duc­tion costs, along with the main­te­nance of ac­tive, steady mar­kets,” it added.

The 30-year-old Sim­mons said while mak­ing the on­line plat­form was hard work for his team, even more ef­fort, team­work and net­work­ing will be needed to make the app func­tional.

He ex­plained that the three week time­frame given to de­velop the app did not al­low for ac­cep­tance test­ing. As a re­sult, the team did not get the op­por­tu­nity to go out into the fields and meet farm­ers who have ac­cess to smart­phones and com­put­ers with in­ter­net con­nec­tions.

“Be­cause of the con­straint with time, we only had a few weeks to build the app, so that part of our user ac­ces­si­bil­ity or ac­cep­tance test­ing has not been ac­tu­ally done as yet. After we would have gone through some more re­fine­ments with the com­mit­tee and so on, I think then we will go and do some dry runs with peo­ple to see. This would be to im­prove it more, to see what they need, and cater to their needs,” he posited.

Sim­mons and his two 19-year-old team mem­bers, Sonny Kotha­pally and Deo­nauth Mo­habir, ex­plained the ob­jec­tives of the app and some of the pos­si­ble hic­cups that will be faced in get­ting it work­able for Guyana’s farm­ers.

“One of the is­sues we have in our lo­cal mar­ket is that we don’t have courier agen­cies, such as, FedEx and UPS, for ex­am­ple that can do lo­cal de­liv­er­ies. So we need that for this thing to work, and also a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion body to grade the pro­duce. Those don’t ex­ist and they are things we would need to get over, to get it launched,” Sim­mons ex­plained.

“There are a lot of things we need to work out be­fore we can get the plat­form into pro­duc­tion. So hav­ing a grad­ing sys­tem and work­ing out how lo­gis­tics would work, in terms of get­ting the pro­duce to its in­tended des­ti­na­tion, are just some. There is also is­sues with the pay­ments, be­cause cash pay­ments would only work for lo­cal farm­ers. So if you are buy­ing from overseas then there needs to be a sys­tem in place that pay­ments can be ver­i­fied eas­ily and that has not been done yet. As far as I know, the Bank of Guyana is still work­ing on im­ple­ment­ing an elec­tronic pay­ments pol­icy for Guyana, so that hasn’t come on stream as yet ei­ther,” he added.

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