How Important is it to Build Farmer-Centered Designs?

Applied Tech Review | Monday, October 26, 2020

In some places, the digital sector has boomed in the past years. However, the essential barriers have till existed for smallholders, concerning the access to new technologies.

FREMONT, CA: When people think about digital growth, innovations in finance comes to their minds, and not farming. Nevertheless, the development of AgTech or agricultural technology is widespread across the continent and is considered as a hype surrounding its transformative potential when it comes to the smallholder farmers. However, regardless of making positive promises that include higher revenue, better resilience, and enhanced access to the marketplace and farming inputs, hundreds of farmers are yet to harvest the benefits of what is called the AgTech revolution.

Since the challenges faced by the smallholders are complex and manifold, the solution to the AgTech issue is comparatively simple, which is by positioning farmers at the center of the solution. Ample availability of internet infrastructure needs to reach rural areas, as many farmers have no clue about having compatible technology to implement new software applications. Since, mobile data expenses have gown down across such regions mostly, so they continue to be prohibitively high for most of them.

The human-centered design is regarded as a problem-solving idea, which gives much importance to the user experience by including the human perspective within the steps of solution-building. But it still has to be wholly permeated in the agricultural sector even though the principles abound in the technology sphere of Silicon Valley and beyond.

When it comes to digital innovation being accessible, affordable, and user-friendly for smallholder farmers, then developers and partners do not have to implement the pre-made solutions to the situations they do not have much knowledge on. Considering that something that works in the Western world can also guarantee its success inside a developing-world context is incorrect. In its place, they need to engage smallholders in the improvement process, to make sure that they put vital inputs into the entire process, starting from planning and designing for implementation till training and upgrades.

Since the farmers are going to implement the innovative tools, so it will be a loss to keep them away, along with their vital expertise from the process of problem-solving. Organizations with a farmer-led approach work directly with farmers and partner with specialist organizations, to enable the development of the farmer-centric digital tools that are essential for the smallholders.

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