Digital journey of our country is full of excitement. With world’s second largest internet population at over 483 million users in 2018, it is estimated that this would reach over 500 million by 2023. In this digital advancement, mobile internet has been a great development where over 73% of total web traffic in 2019 came through the mobile phones (Statista, 2020).
It is reported that during Covid-19, overall smartphone usage increased 50% in April-May 2020. During this time, 84% of users turned to smartphones to find more about various government schemes, get weather updates and market related information on agricultural produce (Ahaskar, 2020). There is a great emphasis for timely access to information for decision making in agriculture and allied sectors. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have a potential in providing access to and exchange of information for farmers.
Amongst ICTs, there has been increasing use of mobile phones and gaining more importance. Mobile phones have many advantages which include: affordability, easy portability, user friendly appearance. The mobile devices are not only used for the communication purpose, these devices have come up with a lot of handy tools known as ‘app’ that are widely used by the common people in their day to day life. There are thousands of mobile apps being developed world wide providing a good interface to user for different purposes such as from playing games to online ticket booking, from reading books to learning cooking, from online chatting with friends to online financial payments.
India is poised to become the world’s largest app developer population by 2024 and India’s app economy is maturing rapidly. India is now the top country in the world in terms of number of apps installed and used per month (FE Bureau, 2019).
India installed more mobile apps in 2019 than any other country, accounting for 4.5 billion app installs in the first quarter alone, surging ahead of the USA, which ranked second at three billion installs. India also recorded the greatest number of new installs on Google Play Store worldwide, 29 percent higher than last year (Mitter, 2019). The country’s app revolution has been fuelled by increasing digitisation across industries coupled with improved smartphone penetration in urban as well as rural markets.
At present, there are about 450-460 million smartphone users across India, which is expected to double by 2022. Naturally, this enormous consumption has led to a growing demand for apps and services (Mitter, 2019).
People of all income levels and across sectors are owning smartphones now. Mobile apps are becoming popular in agriculture and allied sectors too, with the potential for further advancement. In agriculture and allied sectors, the benefits include access to market information, weather information, monitoring crop health, education, other services etc. Government of India has launched a number of mobile and web-based applications for dissemination of information on agriculture and related activities, free of cost to help farmers and other stakeholders. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Agricultural institutions, private sector and NGOs also developed a number of mobile apps to help farmers.
In the fisheries sector also which is an important part of agriculture, there have been efforts by organizations and entrepreneurs to develop mobile apps. A study has revealed that about 30 Indian mobile apps cater to this sector, out of which, 12 are related to aquaculture whereas 9 each for marine fisheries and marketing. (Dhenuvakonda and Sharma, 2019). However, there is no mobile app which provides complete information on fish farming.
Hence a need was felt to develop a mobile app which acts like a gateway of information for fish farmers. This article presents the information and the journey of mobile app development ‘Matsya Kiran’ developed for this sector.
Initially, the mobile app was developed for fish farmers of Telangana State because Telangana has the country’s third largest water spread with 5.73 lakh sq. km coverage in various water bodies including reservoirs and it is also 6th largest in terms of fish production. The fisheries sector is contributing 0.6% to the GSDP playing an important role in the overall socio-economic development of fisher families in Telangana. Department of Telangana (DoF, 2020). So discussions were done with fish farmers of Telangana about the features to be added in the mobile app. An interview schedule was designed with open-ended questions in order to collect information about specific features from 60 farmers in Telangana and 25 experts from different disciplines. Relevancy of each feature was tested using a Likert scale by farmers and expert group. The points were ‘High Relevant’ with score 4, ‘Relevant’ with score 3, ‘Moderately Relevant’ with score 2, and ‘Less relevant’ with score 1.
Features with an average score of more than 2/4 were included and clubbed under 6 main heads namely Culture practices, Management practices, Post-harvest practices, Modern farming techniques, State specific fisheries information and Buy or sell. To aggregate scientific information for each feature, information was collected from various sources like books, articles, websites and research papers. Aggregated information was written in simple language and checked by Grammarly software. Appropriate illustrations were prepared by an artist. Content validity of the text and illustration was tested and the Content Validity Ratio was found to be 0.75.
To develop the mobile app prototype, first wire framing and story board were created based on the selected features, as this helps as the back-end structure of the app. Once the skeletal framework was designed, it was decided to develop the app in the software. App was developed using the Android Studio IDE an interactive environment for developing the android apps with support of JDK-8 (Java Development Kit) installed in the developing computer system. Android studio provided a facility of in-built gradle, app preview, testing and compiling of the app, etc. The app was tested, bugs were removed and then launched on play store.
The mobile app Matsya Kiran starts with a home screen which has 6 icons ‘Culture practices’, ‘Management practices’, ‘Post harvest practices’, Modern farming practices’, ‘T- fish info’ and ‘Buy and sell’ as presented in figure 1.
When the icon of culture practices is clicked, a list view opens showing culture practices of carps, murrel, tilapia, prawn, GIFT tilapia and pangasius in cage. Information on site selection, pre-stocking, stocking and post-stocking of the species is presented thereafter. Screenshot of culture practices and site selection for carp culture is presented in figure 2 and 3.
When the farmer/user clicks management practices as an input, the system will again ask the user for an input value. This then will display a page showing water quality management, feed management, and health management. Under water quality management, the acceptable range, desirable range and measures to be taken for maintaining water quality are presented.
In feed management, the practices to be followed during feeding are given. In health management, the causative agent, symptoms, and measures to be taken for bacterial, parasitic, fungal, viral and environmental diseases are presented. Figure 4 to 7 presents the screenshot of these.
When the farmer/user clicks post-harvest practices as an input, the system asks the user to give an input displaying a page showing handling, transportation, processing, products as presented in figure 7 and 8. Information about drying, salting, freezing, smoking and canning is included under the head processing. In products, the ingredients required and method of preparation of different value-added products like fish balls, fish cutlet, fish fingers, fish pickle, and prawn pickle are given. This is presented in figure 8-12.
When the farmer/user clicks modern farming practices as an input, the system asks the user for input value displaying a page showing cage culture, recirculatory aquaculture system (RAS) and integrated fish farming. Integrated fish farming is a traditional practice but has been included under modern farming practices. In cage culture, information on site selection, species selection, and cage maintenance is given. In RAS, information on water quality requirements and feeding is presented. In integrated fish farming, information on fish cum agriculture, fish cum horticulture, fish cum poultry, fish cum pig, fish cum dairy and fish cum duck is presented. The screenshots from fig 13-16 explains these.
When the farmer/user clicks T-fish info, as an input, the system will again ask the user to give an input displaying a page showing registration guidelines for aquaculture, seed suppliers, fish markets and schemes of Telangana state as presented in fig 17-20. If the user clicks on schemes, the system gets automatically directed to the website of Department of Fisheries (DoF) where information on state sponsored schemes can be seen as explained in fig 21.
When the farmer/user clicks on buy or sell on the home screen; list view having options of seller posts, buyer posts and add post is displayed. When the farmer/user clicks add post in buy or sell screen another screen is displayed with two buttons buy and sell. If the user wants to buy the fish, he/she can click on buy and a form will be displayed where information on the type, variety, quantity of fish to buy, details of buyer and the dates on which fish is required can be filled. The buyer has to enter the details and click on submit button. If the user wants to sell the fish, he/she clicks on sell button and can fill a form and give details about fish type, variety, quantity, price, availability dates and submit. In the screenshot for the seller, form filled and submitted by the seller will be displayed with details of seller, variety, and quantity of fish for sale and the available dates. This is presented in fig 22 to 27.
Feedback about design, information, functionality was taken from the 30 fisheries professionals and 5 progressive fish farmers. Most of them felt that the app should be freely available and should not be charged. Fisheries professionals and farmers felt that the best part of the app is its ease of use and once the app is downloaded, information can be availed anytime, anywhere even without internet connection. Many names were suggested by the respondents during the feedback but the name ‘Matsya Kiran’ was preferred by maximum.
The ‘Matsya Kiran’ app was developed in the year 2019 and is available in android playstore. It has 100+ downloads and rating of 5/5 with very positive reviews. Some of the farmers have written the reviews about the app as: the app has given the knowledge about fisheries in a friendly way, it is very informative app, and is very beneficial to farmers to know about the culture, markets and government support. The farmers have shown interest and enthusiasm in using the mobile app.
The app has been developed in such a way that even a non-fisheries person can understand about the fish culture. It can be even used by a person who is interested in fish farming. In the pandemic situation of Covid 19, it is very difficult for the farmers to attend the training programs, receive advisory services regarding culture, diseases and their treatment. However, Mathsya Kiran app will help the farmers to gain knowledge and information. The app, thus developed is of potential use for stakeholders such as fish farmers, students and others who are interested in fisheries.
(The authors are PhD Scholar and Principal Scientist in ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai.Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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