RiseHarvest

Less fertiliser, more rice… very nice

Burmese rice farmers don’t know how much fertiliser they need. Our app provides a site-specific nitrogen fertiliser recommendation.

Use Case

We consulted 67 rice farmers, 3 agro-dealers and One Acre Fund’s Myanmar team (NGO) to develop the following use case: a Burmese rice farmer does not know when she needs to apply fertiliser, how much she needs to use or whether the yield improvement will justify the cost of additional fertiliser. She cannot access, afford or interpret soil tests. Local NGOs and telecom representatives help her download the RiseHarvest app. The farmer photographs 10 leaves in her rice field using the app. The app instantly diagnoses how much urea is needed, recommends when to apply it and predicts the risk and ROI. The farmer implements the recommendations and maximizes the profitability of her crop. She records her yield in the app and it learns how to give even better recommendations for the next time.

Potential

Developed by IRRI, the leaf colour chart measures nitrogen levels in rice crops. However, it has 3 adoption barriers for rice farmers in Myanmar: 1. The charts are rarely accessible or affordable. 2. Measurements are imprecise and rely on the human eye. 3. The charts can diagnose fertiliser requirements but cannot predict ROI. We consulted multiple ag scientists (most notably Dr Achim Dobermann) to prototype an app that will overcome these limitations. Our app will be freely downloadable anywhere, measure leaf colour objectively and predict ROI and risk for fertiliser recommendations (calibrated via machine learning). In future, we plan to use smartphone GPS to map nitrogen deficiency within fields (bringing precision ag to smallholders) and expand to other nutrients, countries and crops.

Business Case

RiseHarvest will always be a social enterprise. The app will be free for rice farmers in Myanmar. Revenue will be generated from advertisements on the app and possibly partnerships with other NGOs/businesses (such as Golden Paddy and Green Way – the two big agri apps in Myanmar). All profits will be used to help smallholder farmers improve their livelihoods. We will initially focus on Burmese rice farmers within the Bago and Ayeyarwaddy regions before expanding to other regions and crop types. ‘BaiKhaoNK’ is the only app we could find that uses leaf colour to provide fertiliser recommendations. It has >10,000 installs but is unlikely to be a competitor - it was calibrated for Thai rice varieties, was developed in Thai language and does not predict ROI for fertiliser recommendations.

Objectives:

  1. Improve the livelihoods of rice farmers in Myanmar by improving yields and optimising their fertiliser application processes.
  2. Reduce the effects of excessive fertiliser on the environment.
  3. Ensure food security in rural communities.

Team RiseHarvest

Sydney, Australia

Our Team

Learning from farmers, agro-dealers, NGOs and agricultural scientists

67 Farmers

We interviewed 67 rice farmers across four rice-growing regions of Myanmar. Most of these farmers expressed concern about the declining fertility of their soils. They knew they had to apply more fertilizer but they didn’t know if the yield increase would justify the high interest loan required to buy the fertilizer. For this reason we resolved to provide an expected return on investment (with an associated risk factor) for the app’s site-specific fertilizer recommendations. We plan to calibrate predictive models using farmer field trials and refine these calibrations through machine learning. This will enable farmers to make better-informed decisions as well as secure loans for fertilizer purchases.

Agribusiness professionals

We bounced our prototype off input suppliers, rice processors and contract farmers. They were very interested in the app but two of them expressed concern about the variable quality of fertilizers. One input supplier explained he had to stop buying one brand of urea (a type of nitrogen fertilizer) because it turned to liquid within days of arriving at the store! This has important implications for our smartphone app. Our fertilizer recommendations and estimated returns on investment will be misleading if the farmer buys poor quality fertilizer. To address this we will only recommend proven fertilizer brands. Advertising specific brands of fertilizer may also create opportunities to generate revenue.

One Acre Fund (NGO)

We also connected with One Acre Fund’s Myanmar team - a massive trip highlight! The team have delivered improved inputs and agronomic advice to smallholder farmers in Myanmar for the last two-and-a-half years. They have encountered a lot of soil variability so they really liked how our app’s fertilizer recommendations will be site-specific. They confirmed that most smallholder farmers have access to smartphones but also warned that some older farmers are illiterate. The team at One Acre Fund advised us on how to address this challenge. They learnt to give farmers picture-based fertilizer recommendations to support farmers that cannot read very well. We are keen to integrate this clever approach into our smartphone app. The One Acre Fund team also gave us a game of basketball as well as some advice on how to avoid food poisoning in rural Myanmar (we wished we talked to them earlier!)

Agricultural scientists

We have consulted multiple agronomists, plant scientists and soil scientists – most notably Dr Achim Dobermann (co-creator of the technology we are digitizing). Achim generously gave us a lot of his time, knowledge and encouragement. He confirmed that calibrating different fertilizer recommendations for every individual rice variety grown in Myanmar would be unnecessary. This was a huge relief as there are a ridiculous number of rice varieties grown in Myanmar! Achim explained that we only need to differentiate fertilizer recommendations between traditional rice varieties and improved rice varieties. We are planning to return to Myanmar in early July to initiate farmer field trials, beta tests and learn more lessons. We’ll keep you posted!

Meet the team! / Published May 7, 2018 by Sam Coggins

Meet the team!

We met last year through an entrepreneurship course at our university and instantly hit it off. Joseph is passionate about social entrepreneurship, Chandan is determined to help his home country develop and Sam is dedicated to supporting smallholder farmers. We quickly realized we could combine our common values and diverse experiences to have a crack at sometime meaningful (and have fun on the way).

Joseph Shen (B. Commerce and Civil Engineering)

Joseph contributes extensive experience in entrepreneurship and handy programming skills.

• Created a social enterprise cafe in Nepal and raised $40,000 in start up costs.
• Interned at Snappr (startup that went through Y Combinator).
• Codes Java and Python and speaks Chinese and Russian.

Chandan Kumar (B. Civil Engineering)

Chandan brings local networks as well as a deep understanding of Myanmar’s cultures, languages and agricultural supply chains.

• Lived in Myanmar until he came to Australia for university.
• Worked with smallholder farmers for twelve months in his father’s pulse processing business in Myanmar.
• Fluent in Burmese, Hindi and Bhojpuri.

Sam Coggins (B. Science in Agriculture)

Sam offers agricultural science knowledge and experience working with smallholder farmers.

• Interned at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
• Studied agricultural science for a semester in Sri Lanka.
• Working with smallholder farmers at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Our Mission

Burmese farmers do not know how much fertiliser their rice crops need. Too little fertiliser leads to poor yields but too much results in environmental degradation and excessive costs. RiseHarvest’s smartphone application will analyse rice leaf photos to offer personalised fertiliser recommendations, helping farmers maximise their profitability. This gives farmers a better chance to improve their livelihoods, protect the environment and nourish their communities.

Our Background

RiseHarvest is Chandan, Joseph and Sam. We are university students who are passionate about the potential for technology to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. We are grateful for the educational opportunities that we have experienced and wish to use our skills to help those who are less fortunate. This past year, we built a prototype for the smartphone application and visited Myanmar for 2 weeks to work with 67 Burmese rice farmers directly.

Learning from farmers, agro-dealers, NGOs and agricultural scientists

67 Farmers

We interviewed 67 rice farmers across four rice-growing regions of Myanmar. Most of these farmers expressed concern about the declining fertility of their soils. They knew they had to apply more fertilizer but they didn’t know if the yield increase would justify the high interest loan required to buy the fertilizer. For this reason we resolved to provide an expected return on investment (with an associated risk factor) for the app’s site-specific fertilizer recommendations. We plan to calibrate predictive models using farmer field trials and refine these calibrations through machine learning. This will enable farmers to make better-informed decisions as well as secure loans for fertilizer purchases.

Agribusiness professionals

We bounced our prototype off input suppliers, rice processors and contract farmers. They were very interested in the app but two of them expressed concern about the variable quality of fertilizers. One input supplier explained he had to stop buying one brand of urea (a type of nitrogen fertilizer) because it turned to liquid within days of arriving at the store! This has important implications for our smartphone app. Our fertilizer recommendations and estimated returns on investment will be misleading if the farmer buys poor quality fertilizer. To address this we will only recommend proven fertilizer brands. Advertising specific brands of fertilizer may also create opportunities to generate revenue.

One Acre Fund (NGO)

We also connected with One Acre Fund’s Myanmar team - a massive trip highlight! The team have delivered improved inputs and agronomic advice to smallholder farmers in Myanmar for the last two-and-a-half years. They have encountered a lot of soil variability so they really liked how our app’s fertilizer recommendations will be site-specific. They confirmed that most smallholder farmers have access to smartphones but also warned that some older farmers are illiterate. The team at One Acre Fund advised us on how to address this challenge. They learnt to give farmers picture-based fertilizer recommendations to support farmers that cannot read very well. We are keen to integrate this clever approach into our smartphone app. The One Acre Fund team also gave us a game of basketball as well as some advice on how to avoid food poisoning in rural Myanmar (we wished we talked to them earlier!)

Agricultural scientists

We have consulted multiple agronomists, plant scientists and soil scientists – most notably Dr Achim Dobermann (co-creator of the technology we are digitizing). Achim generously gave us a lot of his time, knowledge and encouragement. He confirmed that calibrating different fertilizer recommendations for every individual rice variety grown in Myanmar would be unnecessary. This was a huge relief as there are a ridiculous number of rice varieties grown in Myanmar! Achim explained that we only need to differentiate fertilizer recommendations between traditional rice varieties and improved rice varieties. We are planning to return to Myanmar in early July to initiate farmer field trials, beta tests and learn more lessons. We’ll keep you posted!

Meet the team! / Published May 7, 2018 by Sam Coggins

Meet the team!

We met last year through an entrepreneurship course at our university and instantly hit it off. Joseph is passionate about social entrepreneurship, Chandan is determined to help his home country develop and Sam is dedicated to supporting smallholder farmers. We quickly realized we could combine our common values and diverse experiences to have a crack at sometime meaningful (and have fun on the way).

Joseph Shen (B. Commerce and Civil Engineering)

Joseph contributes extensive experience in entrepreneurship and handy programming skills.

• Created a social enterprise cafe in Nepal and raised $40,000 in start up costs.
• Interned at Snappr (startup that went through Y Combinator).
• Codes Java and Python and speaks Chinese and Russian.

Chandan Kumar (B. Civil Engineering)

Chandan brings local networks as well as a deep understanding of Myanmar’s cultures, languages and agricultural supply chains.

• Lived in Myanmar until he came to Australia for university.
• Worked with smallholder farmers for twelve months in his father’s pulse processing business in Myanmar.
• Fluent in Burmese, Hindi and Bhojpuri.

Sam Coggins (B. Science in Agriculture)

Sam offers agricultural science knowledge and experience working with smallholder farmers.

• Interned at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.
• Studied agricultural science for a semester in Sri Lanka.
• Working with smallholder farmers at the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Our Team

Our Mission

Burmese farmers do not know how much fertiliser their rice crops need. Too little fertiliser leads to poor yields but too much results in environmental degradation and excessive ...Read More

Our Background

RiseHarvest is Chandan, Joseph and Sam. We are university students who are passionate about the potential for technology to improve the lives of smallholder farmers. We are grateful ...Read More

Our Badges

  • Power Team
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  • Design Lab Experts
    Attended at least one of the weekly TFF Design Lab “office hours” sessions.
  • We Famous
    Your project has been covered by your university or other media outlet
  • Get #Social
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  • Fan Club
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  • Interior Architect
    Posted three pictures of your team workspace
  • Idea Parkers
    Shared a picture of your teams unique “idea parking”
  • Global Foodies
    Posted three facts about global food issues learned in the Explore mode
  • Insight + Insight + Insight
    Shared three new insights your team formulated in the Define mode
  • On Time, On Target
    Shared your Design Statement created during the Define mode
  • Post-it Fiends
    Shared pics of the chaos of the post-it filled Ideate work mode
  • Brain Food
    In the Ideate intro video, Richard shares an important tip while eating an apple. Share a team-apple-eating pic!
  • Expert Input
    Shared three pieces of expert feedback on your concept
  • GIF Masters
    Shared a GIF of the prototype building frenzy
  • Live Testing
    Shared a video of a user testing your concept
  • Way To Go
    Shared a picture of your plan for iterating your project
  • Etch-A-Sketch
    Shared your logo sketching session on your team blog
  • WE DID IT!!
    Submitted Final Pitch, including videos and concept details
  • Introduction
    Completed the Introduction section of the Design Lab
  • Explore
    Completed the Explore section of the Design Lab
  • Define
    Completed the Define section of the Design Lab
  • Ideate
    Completed the Ideate section of the Design Lab
  • Conceptualize
    Completed the Conceptualize section of the Design Lab
  • Prototype
    Completed the Prototype section of the Design Lab
  • Test
    Completed the Test section of the Design Lab
  • Iterate
    Completed the Iterate section of the Design Lab
  • Pitch
    Completed the Pitch section of the Design Lab
The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.