Children of the Chinar, Season 2: Special series on young achievers in Kashmir, 'Orchardly'
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
This is the first story of Season 2 of Children of the Chinar, our special coverage of exciting achievers from Kashmir. Once a dreaded terrorist hotspot, the beautiful Himalayan region of Kashmir saw 16 million tourists visit it in the last year. Our first story in Season 2 is about a bunch of cool app-makers who built Kashmir's first farming app, Orchardly.
Ehsan Quddusi, Izhan Javaid, and Uzair Javaid, the men who created the Orchardly app.
Technology has made our life easier and more convenient; every aspect of our daily life has been impacted with technology, even in the agriculture sector as well, the technological advancements have made a significant impact on agriculture. These advancements and innovations are altering the way farmers work and operate in agriculture.
Through a mobile application, Orchardly, Ehsan Quddusi, Izhan Javaid, and Uzair Javaid from southern areas of Kashmir, have brought about a revolutionary transformation for the farmers by making the necessary knowledge for preserving and cultivating the crop readily available to them. They have developed a mobile application which shares the data to farmers and makes it easier for them to grow and save their goods.
While Kashmiri apple growers have expressed concern over their losses, three young people from the Valley's southern districts have developed a novel strategy to help the growers save and cultivate the fruit and then sell the harvest in markets as well, a mobile application that connects Kashmir farmers to save, grow and sell apples. The young people of Kashmir have made it possible for fruit growers to increase the number and quality of apples.
They took the initiative when Ehsan Quddusi decided to expand his orchard in 2018 without fully understanding the procedures and stages required to produce apples. “I contacted my friend, who helped me to develop my orchard. But, after completing the whole process, I was still unaware about the future mandatory procedures. This situation compelled me to think about those who don’t have any knowledge about produce but are working hard to grow the fruit. Therefore, we concluded with coming up with a unique solution to help the farmers,” Quddusi said.
“We have come up with a slogan of ‘better orchards always’. In the past six months, we have been able to connect with 6,000 farmers and the number is increasing every day,” he said, adding that this is not only a mobile application, but it comprises hardware, proper backend system and other things, which means it is a complete horticulture platform. “We are very focussed in horticulture, but mostly on apples,” he added.
“In terms of quality of apples, our average A grade apples are just 30 per cent only, which indicates the potential to increase our quality and quantity. Despite the availability of apple trees, government schemes and other things, the farmers still don’t know how to develop their orchards exactly. There is no one to guide them, therefore, we developed the application and provided many benefits to the farmers free of cost, which include micro-weather, which is different from IMD [Indian Meteorological Department] weather forecast, dizzy and pest production, checking the fungal diseases, soil testing and many more,” said Quddusi.
“We have divided Kashmir into 30 micro weather zones to monitor the real time weather conditions to assist the farmers. We also do dizzi and pest production in which we study the complete lifecycle of pests and then correlate that with the weather to predict when the insect will grow to damage the tree so that the farmers get proper alert to spray the orchard in order to prevent the damage,” he said.
Diseases like fungal causes due to rains, high temperature, other things are also being checked and the data is being sent to farmers for alert as well, he said, adding that to check the quality of the soil, they have been providing free soil tests to every farmer who joins with them. “We have set up multiple soil testing labs and the farmers get the report through the app only and also get advice.”
Through this particular application, the farmer could easily ask questions and seek information for any matter, he said, adding that a team at the backend reply to them very hastily. “We are not charging for anything at present,” said Quddusi.
He added that besides saving and growing the apple, they have also set up 'Orchardly Mandi' through which rate alert is being provided to the farmers through the application to help them in selling the fruit as per their choice.
“We are launching Orchardly Procure [or procurement via the app] shortly, which would help in selling the produce at high rates. We are also bringing in traceability and transparency in the supply chain through the bar codes so that the farmer would be able to get information where his produce has reached.”
The motive behind launching this application was to help the farmers to get the information at their home so that they would be able to spend more time in their orchards.
“Of course, there was a need for this initiative; the people have been getting enough information through the application. Such an initiative has put an end to the guesswork in the fields and the farmers are now able to develop their orchards through proper scientific methods and procedures,” Quddusi said.
“We want to be a complete solution for the farmers. Moreover, we are also trying to ensure financing partners for the farmers, for which the process is going on,” he added.