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Happy Harvest

A platform to connect investors, farmland owners and farmers to encourage crowd-funded crop production and reduce wastage in Sri Lanka

Photo of Sameeha Rahman
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

University of Westminister

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Other

Website of Legally Registered Entity

https://westminster.ac.uk/

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Just beginning now

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Colombo

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Sri Lanka

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Sri Lanka

What country is your selected Place located in?

Sri Lanka

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Sri Lanka is our home, and our vision hopes to aid not only the livelihood of the stakeholders but also uplift the agriculture industry and the economy by enticing foreign investments.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Sri Lanka is an island that is enthralling and enticing from whichever direction it may be approached. It’s deep historical and cultural roots combined with the subtle felicities of indigenous songs and folklore unfolds a scene of mystic and grandeur unsurpassed. The island rises from the sea to its lofty mountains covered by lush green forests, nubile human settlements and finally back to the pearly white seashores. The Chinese called Sri Lanka “the island of jewels”, and the Greeks “the land of hyacinth and ruby”.

The Climate of Sri Lanka varies with the places and time. The general consensus is that Sri Lanka does not experience changes in seasons as countries in Europe and the northern parts of America. The entire island gets colder during months like November - March and remains suitable to arable lands. Sri Lanka was in the past called the granary of the East, due to the fabled agricultural industries and policies prioritized by the people of Sri Lanka in the past.

Sri Lanka is also a country deeply rooted in its culture and traditions. The main spoken languages are Sinhala, Tamil and English. The main ethnic groups are the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. Urban and rural land of Sri Lanka is of ratio 1:4, with 5/6th of the country topography as low lying plains suitable for forests and agriculture and the remaining mountainous highlands. The primary industry of agriculture plays a large role in the economics of the country, with over 200,000 acres used for rice paddy fields and the majority of the highlands used for tea production.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

65610

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

22000000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

In the present, the agricultural industry in Sri Lanka has taken a backseat, unlike the past. This is due to many reasons. In the recent past, due to irregular bouts of rain, Sri Lanka has gone through extreme cases of floods and droughts. Both impact the country's crop production negatively. In May 2019, vegetables had a sharp increase in price due to low production because of the increasing dry weather. The same occurred in December 2019 due to the highly inclement weather. In 2017, Sri Lanka was considered as one of the countries heavily prone to climate change, after witnessing the monsoons and landslides.

Additionally, 5/6th of Sri Lanka’s topography as low lying plains suitable for forests and agriculture. The primary industry of agriculture plays a large role in the economics of the country, with over 200,000 acres used for rice paddy fields and the majority of the highlands used for tea production. There are many plots of land ideal for farming but without the proper funding to do so. Renting out unused farmland is a relatively common practice, but is not widely known, nor used.

Furthermore, there is plenty of arable land in Sri Lanka that is not used effectively. Additionally, it was identified that there is a lot of food wastage even before the food reaches the kitchen. According to UNO, nearly one-third of food is being wasted, making it an immense environmental and economic disaster. Surmising the above 2 precincts, the problems we hope to address currently (in 2020) are arable lands in Sri Lanka being underutilized and food wastage within the agriculture sector.

Due to global warming, and climate change the agricultural industry is expected to yield less produce in the future. Apart from the environmental changes, there are other challenges that the agricultural industry in Sri Lanka faces, namely agricultural policies within the republic and under prioritization of agriculture. 

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Our solution is to create a platform to connect investors, farmland owners and farmers. Utilizing unused farmland will provide landowners with a stipend for farming on their land, investors with business opportunities and returns on investments and farmers with access to a reliable medium to find jobs.

The solution will be offered in the form of a mobile application available on the App Store and PlayStore. Owners of unused farmland can advertise their land on the application. Investors can find plots or farms they are interested in investing, either individually or in groups. They can communicate with the landowners to finalize the investment deals and rent of the land. Investors can also post jobs looking for farmers to work on their new land. Farmers can choose to work on lands or the type of job they’re interested in. Investors can use the application to track the growth of their investments by communicating with their employees, the farmers. 

The solution consists of a digitized farmer’s market as well, where the investors are not only able to advertise their produce even before it is ready, thus ensuring that their produce has a reseller or consumer.

Future Enhancements

Future enhancements planned are as follows.

1. Optimise the farmers market with recommendations

2. Use GIS software to prevent illegal deforestation by farmers.

3. Make efficient algorithms that can time the harvest produce and delivery of the produce.

4. Increase our database of known plants and crops suitable for the country.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Agriculture is a key industry of Sri Lanka that mainly produces rice and coconut for domestic use before being exported. Due to the previously mentioned climate changes, crop production has decreased within the last 2 years. 

To summarise our solution, it is an application that connects landowners, investors and farmers. In this endeavour, the need of officers to provide support services such as verify land ownership, botanists and agricultural scientists to ratify the suitability of the land to grow various assorted crops and supervisors to overlook farmers progress on the set tasks becomes apparent.

As such our solution can increase the transparency of unused farmland locations, and allow interested parties to know potential areas for investment or jobs. This application can also bring in more jobs, for farmers or those interested in farming to get a steady stream of jobs, and for botanists and land surveyors, to assess the land before, during and after each crop cycle.

Foreigners interested in opening or running a plantation can also invest, bringing in more revenue and investment to the country. The local economy of Sri Lanka would greatly benefit from the pool of foreign investments and the farmer’s market trade. 

In addition to encouraging crowd-farming, our current solution also encourages jobs for ecologists, environmental scientists, biologists and agricultural and plant scientists. The current job prospects for these individuals are almost non-existent. Most graduates with degrees in Plant Science, Agriculture and Botany eventually move into career paths in Computer Science, Management and Accounting. Our solution will bring them jobs that they were academically trained for.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Our vision for the food ecosystem for the future in 2050 includes “crowd farming” and crowd investing in Sri Lankan lands by investors. According to the UN, the challenges faced by humanity in the foreseeable future are varied and require a great deal of thought and diligence. The faculties of human challenges that we hope to solve through our application are Climate Change, Poverty, and Food production.

The population in 2050 is projected to hit 11 billion people worldwide. Efficient use of land resources is crucial in order for us to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as, produce food for the population in the future. The need to be extremely efficient and cautious in claiming the land for terrestrial use from the forests arises. 

We also need a way to eliminate poverty, one of the most diplomatic approaches to eliminate poverty is to provide job opportunities to the massive population in the future. One of the effective solutions to the problem is to introduce a short-long term contract-based open-market portal for jobs in agriculture. We put forward this notion for the reasons below.

1. Agricultural jobs do not require a huge learning curve.

2. Agricultural jobs do not require a lot of technical equipment. (There are places in Africa, Asia that do contain a digital divide)

3. Many jobs can be patriated under a supervisor.

4. Part-timers would be able to work in a paid-as-you-go service. (We envision a world where corporate employees would be able to take up farming as a part-time hobby in a farm close to them and get paid for their services)

Food production for a population is crucial. Efficiently managing food production and agriculture and diligently investing in unused farmlands, we can produce adequate amounts of food for the entire population without the necessity of damaging valuable forests and ecosystems of nature.

Following is a look at our solution from certain vantage points

Environmental - Our solution will be conducive in protecting valuable wildlife and forests. We will be able to regulate and classify arable lands from forest reserves. This will enable us to prevent misuse of lands

Diets - Healthy and fresh food are essential in living a healthy lifestyle. Processed foods cause diseases and ailments such as hypertension, obesity and depression. Our solution enables us to bring produces of healthy meals

Economics - Our solution will be a novel approach to the agricultural industry in the country. This can change in the economics and the lifestyle that farmers in rural villages operate on. Our solution will help farmers get stable jobs, guaranteed pay, and potential customers for their produce. This will also encourage the biologically trained skilled workers such as botanists, agricultural scientists to take up careers in the field, which they specialised in.

Policy - There has to be some form of paperwork, where we need to ratify land owners deeds and ownership details. This has to be done within the framework of law and the constitution operated in the country. 

Technology - There will be a need for some technological equipment needed to find the viability of soil, climate analysis, and plant science. There will be a need for a skilled bioinformatics team to analyse, plant diseases and other assorted plant issues. There will also be a need for a skilled GIS (Geographical Information System) operators to optimise the farmland size and scale.



How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

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Spam
Photo of Felix Thiel
Team

Hi Sameeha,

your vision looks interesting and is very much inline with ours for Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Currently, we are looking at all Sri Lankan applications and scout for options to collaborate.
If your team is interested, please get back to me via mail and we could arrange a meeting.

Kind regards,
Felix Thiel, l.felixgrau@cgiar.org

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