Farmer Care app offers guidance, increases returns

By Liu Yukun | (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-07-05

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Farmer Care is China's first app that standardizes and guides agricultural practice, and has attracted 53,800 farmers across 11 provinces in three years since its creation.

The app, co-developed by SY Agricultural and National Engineering Research Center for Information Technology in Agriculture, offers detailed guidance on the timing and manner of planting, watering, fertilizing and greenhouse management, based on its data network. It also invites experts in different fields to answer farmers' questions posted on the app.

"More farmers are getting used to phones and up-todate technologies, which gives the app an edge," said Guo Yihua, a government official from Huangcheng, a township in Linzi district of Shandong province where the company is based.

Guo said the company sent its employees to knock on each door in the township to introduce the technology and its uses to families living there.

"We are confident about the app as it offers scientific guidance for farmers. Compared with the past when farmers mostly relied on their own experience, their current use of Farmer Care increases their returns," said Zhang Fudong, a technician from SY Agricultural.

Subscribers that have a contract with the company are required to follow the app's instructions in managing their greenhouses. They are paid about 80,000 yuan ($12,000) per year by the company for following the guidance, depending on output. The company can further profit by selling their products nationwide.

More than 5,000 farmers and families in the county are currently using the app, one-third of the total. Their vegetables are sold in Beijing and Shanghai, much further away than previously.

The company's sales of products from contracted greenhouses reached 600 million yuan last year.

Yan Qingnian, a farmer in Huangcheng, said that the app helps him generate more from his greenhouse.

"I get 110,000 yuan per year, much better than before. I'd make more sometimes in the past, but that was not as stable, as in other years I might see huge losses," Yan said.

"We don't have to work that hard now, as we use more technologies in production," Yan added.

Technology adaptation in the agricultural sector has been a key trend across the country. According to a report from an agricultural news website, big data use in the sector has significantly lifted production and enhanced farms' resilience against natural disasters.

"Farmers can have a more precise evaluation of when to water and fertilize. Using big data can also lead to more accurate marketing analysis as guidance for their production," the report said.

In Weifang, Shandong, technology innovation contributed nearly 65 percent of its agricultural growth in 2018, according to news website Sina. That number was about 65 percent in Changchun, Jilin province, and 58 percent in Hengyang, Hunan province.

"It (technology adaptation) will be the trend for future agricultural development," Guo said.

"Going forward, we hope the Farmer Care app can be promoted for wider usage in more villages. We also look forward to new tech innovations in the sector."