Sachin Gaur is an award-winning software engineer and world class expert in mobile security. In 2010 he cofounded technology collective MixOrg, which aims to develop apps to help people at the bottom of the pyramid – people like the many millions of India’s poor farmers whose lives are often blighted by multiple problems.
We follow Sachin as heads off to Andhra Pradesh to meet farmers and hear first hand about the major obstacles they face in their lives – from changing weather patterns and unreliable rainfall, to rising costs of seeds and fertilizers. With a firm grasp of some of their real life problems, he’s ready to start working on an app.
Sachin brings in other developers via the online technology community to work with him. He also meets Vijaya, a widow whose husband and brother committed suicide because they feel into debt. Vijaya turned her farm round by growing a different and bigger variety of crops – polycrops, less vulnerable to rainfall variation. It’s a trick that’s helped others too. Narayan and his wife Narsiva use a blend of traditional knowledge and scientific techniques to grow seven varieties of crops and vegetables on a hundred metres of land – the seven tier polycrop model.
Samuel has turned to organic farming – and is making a success of it. “To protect the beneficial insects I have stopped using poisons like urea and fertilizers completely. By doing this my soil has become nice and airy. It’s like when a person is an alcoholic, and cannot do without a drink and constantly wants more to drink. He starts with a quart, and then moves to a half and then a bottle, but he never feels satisfied. Using urea is like this and that’s why we can’t win. This is why I took it as a challenge to show the people of my village how one can farm without fertilizers.”
Sachin and Praveen from Digital Green come up with an app to help spread farmers’ ideas – the Mobile Harvest App. It’s an App that helps farmers share the stories, experiences and ideas. Samuel is enthusiastic: “Instead of just telling one person on the phone – through this app and the internet, you can reach out to so many people! It’s just like you showed me, when you spoke through the internet. When I use the app I don’t need to be worried about the phone balance running out because everyone’s asking the same thing over and over again. You just have to say it once!”
For the farmers the advantage is ‘you don’t have to be literate to use the Mobile Harvest App since it’s just sound – and images.Sachin is pleased: “Now that I have shown the application to at least six people and they all represent different stakeholders. So right now I am very happy with the work that has happened, with the feedback that I have got and there is a lot of very detailed feedback that I have got, on which I want to work on; From here I want to develop the application make it more robust and take it through the pilots, those trials – and make it something, you know, which can be adopted nationwide. It’s a long way to go, it’s just the beginning of the project.”
Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) aims to work on agriculture based livelihoods, supporting them to adopt sustainable agriculture practices to reduce the costs of cultivations and increase net incomes.
The Honey Bee Network seeks to bridge the gap between the information ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ by tapping into and democratizing the wealth of knowledge at the community level and digitizing that knowledge in electronic networks.
Apps for Good is the award-winning programme by CDI Europe where young people learn to create apps that change their world.
To look back on the Rio Earth Summit of 1992, see the UN pages on that conference.
And here is the website of this year’s Rio Earth Summit 2012