Digitalisation comes to bereft farmers’ rescue | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 21, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:12 AM, April 21, 2020

Digitalisation comes to bereft farmers’ rescue

The government is set to initiate a short code to help farmers sell their produce if they can't find buyers locally, much to the relief of growers confronting a broken supply chain.

The decision came at an inter-ministerial meeting of the agriculture and food ministries and the Information Communication Division yesterday.

The 333#5 short code will link various government agencies and digital commerce platforms with farmers, said Zunaid Ahmed Palak, state minister for ICT, at a virtual press conference.

This would help farmers who have produced a huge amount of food and items but are failing to connect with buyers or not finding buyers offering them a rational price.

Palak also acknowledged that every day the government is coming to know of news through media that farmers are in deep trouble for unsold products.

"The challenge will be mitigated through this process."

The state minister couldn't give the exact date on when the service would be available. "We have just decided to work on this and it might take a few days to get the network ready."

The latest decision comes after the prime minister on Sunday told parliament that the government would use technology to maintain the supply chain and disburse government assistance.

Digital commerce ventures also can purchase farm produce easily through it, Palak said. "We can use this as an online marketplace."

The government has introduced another short code 333#2 to provide humanitarian assistance and food to the needy during the nationwide shutdown to flatten the spread of coronavirus.

Introduced on April 5, the service delivered food relief to 10,000 families through field-level officers.

At the press conference, Palak also launched an online tracker using the data of the Directorate General of Health Services.

The tracker can give an idea about the coronavirus situation in Bangladesh as well as the country's situation in comparison with others.

"Gradually, we will give more inputs and citizens will get locality-based information."

The government is dealing with a huge volume of information but has not made individual data public so that people can't identify the callers, Palak added.

Meanwhile, the country's second largest mobile operator Robi yesterday rolled out a real-time, SMS-based coronavirus alert service, which is using machine learning-driven data analytics solutions.

The notification is designed to raise awareness about the highly contagious bug among the people who have to move around the city, it said in a statement.

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