Sun | Oct 22, 2017

JAagro could boost farming - Edwin Allen boys create farming app, cop 4-H top prize

Published:Tuesday | May 12, 2015 | 12:00 AMShanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer
Ricardo Gaynor (second left), Odaine Williams (centre) and Herad Howell (second right), students of Edwin Allen High School, pose with their 4-H Club award. Also in the picture are Norma Sinclair, teacher Edwin Allen High School, and Dr Everton Walters, principal.

FRANKFIELD, Clarendon:

THREE TEENAGED Edwin Allen High School students have created a technology-based mobile application that will assist farmers in managing their farms, as well as maximising production and output based on the size of the farm and the available resources.

The innovative invention won first prize at the recently concluded National 4-H Achievement Day 2015, which was held at the Denbigh Showground, Clarendon.

The three upper-sixth-form male students are members of the Clarendon-based school's 4-H Club.

They came up with the notion to create the app just by bouncing ideas off each other, along with the guidance of their club teacher, Norma Sinclair, and assistance from a former club member.

Herad Howell is the one with the ideas, Ricardo Gaynor is the practical person who wrote and created all the programmes in computer language from start to finish and Odaine Williams, who worked out the graphics and marketing, completed the dynamic trio.

The cell phone-compatible application, which they called 'JAagro: The Farmers Handbook. Helping our farmers, boosting our economy', is written in four computer-readable languages, namely: Android, IOS, BlackBerry, and Windows OS, which means that the app is compatible with all devices operated by any of the aforementioned operating systems platforms to allow for greater access by persons in all categories of cellular technology. The team is currently working to further develop the app so that it will be compatible with Apple-powered devices.

Contemplating charging

They are contemplating charging to use the app, as it needs to be constantly monitored and updated. "We are taking that into consideration based on the process of maintenance. Most of the features of the app will take additional money for its upkeep. For example, there will need to be a 'groundsman' to collect information that will be fed back into the system to keep the farmers aware of the constant updates. So the app will be kept up to date by the information given to us by the people on the ground," Howell told The Gleaner.

They are also exploring the possibility of generating revenue through advertisements.

Williams added that for elder persons/farmers that are not as tech savvy as the younger generation, instructional videos and tutorials are in the pipeline, as well as training through various agricultural agencies, including the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS).

"This will give the farmers a basic understanding and training which will also be offered through churches and community clubs. We are trying to make it work in a way that suits everybody, so these farmers will be fed the information directly, instead of them having be dependent on others," said Williams. Howell said one of the many features of the application is that it allows farmers to properly manage their crops versus planting. "This app will assist in mitigating against having a surplus or glut on the market, as well as a reduction of shortages. The application has the capacity to tell farmers when there will be a market for certain crops, and it will also tell them when is the best time to plant these crops."

President of the JAS, Senator Norman Grant, was amazed at the creativity at of the youngsters, and is eagerly anticipating a meeting with them to discuss the way forward with this potentially big boost to the agricultural sector.

Principal Dr Everton Walters said he, too, is impressed by the innovative bunch who knew what they were about from the onset.