Using a new mobile application, soon to hit the market, farmers can now have their crop-related queries answered through a ‘chatbot’ and this does not work, by a live scientist.
‘Aham’ was built by a six-student team from Mumbai’s Vivekanand Education Society’s Institute of Technology in a software hackathon held on March 30-31.
The competition, organised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) at 28 nodal centres, required students to build apps around topics allocated to them within 36 hours.
“Our app is basically a portal to give information of aromatic and medicinal plants. People have known about the cash crops like cotton, pulses, etc. but there is not much information regarding these crops. So, we built this app keeping this in consideration,” Deepa Narayanan, a member of the team, which built the app to win the hackathon for Pune centre, told IANS.
The app stores information related to what kind of soil, weather, climate, and time of the year, would be suitable for a certain crop.
“The app has a geo-coded system which informs the farmers at which place which plant can be optimally raised. Since the farmers do not know about medicinal crops much, we have an ‘advisory board’ in the app, having two sections. It has got a chat app which is more like a robotic answering session. So, if a farmer speaks his query into the mic of the phone, the chatbot will answer.
“It may so happen that chatbot may not be able to answer a certain query, in such cases, the question will be diverted to a scientist. The scientist will answer the query in a real-time chatting session,” said the third-year computer science student.
The app also has a tab for ‘market-trend’ which will let farmers know past and future demand for crops through pictorial graphs.
For the prototype, the team was asked to prepare an app for mint, a herb with medicinal qualities, by the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). Similar proposals for several other topics were made by 27 central and 17 state ministries.
One of the important thing about the competition is that the apps may be adopted by these ministries or other governmental bodies, for use in their field of work.
Narayanan said the team is in talks with CSIR to adopt the app for its Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), but the things are yet to take shape.
“We are taking exams now and haven’t spoken to the government in 15 days. We will take it up further after the exams,” she said.
Even after last year’s hackathon, organised by the AICTE, about 30 innovations were adopted by several ministries and departments.
“About 60 innovations were long-listed, out of which 30 had been finally adopted by the ministries. A total of 250 apps or portals were invented by the participants in that competition,” an AICTE official told IANS.