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Sensors, Smartphones, and Smallholder Farmers

How low-cost sensors and more accurate data can transform farming in Myanmar

In a perfect storm of technology, access, and opportunity, IDEO.org went to work in Myanmar to explore new agricultural applications for low-cost sensors. 

After a flurry of research, a myriad of prototypes, and trips to Kenya, Myanmar, and Tanzania, we teamed up with Yangon-based Proximity Designs to build new products that help smallholder farmers better understand their crops.

For farmers in Myanmar, so much of their work is done by feel, not fact. So, in conjunction with Proximity, we’ve come up with a handful of basic sensors that we’re testing now with farmers. We’re betting that simple sensors can accurately inform farmers on irrigation, soil saturation, and what kind of supplies they’ll need to maximize their fields.

Currently, Proximity Designs is testing three sensor prototypes in Myanmar.

We’ve delivered three prototypes to Proximity Designs. The first is a sensor that tests for water levels in rice fields, the second helps betel nut farmers ascertain the moisture levels in their crops, and the third is a GPS-guided smartphone app that helps farmers accurately map their fields and thus predict the right amount of inputs for their farms.

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