Dutch-Geo Traktor App & Geocell Mobile Purchasing to Boost Farmer Learning

The vast majority of people in Georgia still work in agriculture, and farmland accounts for much of the country's territory. However, many Georgian farmers still work in a pre-industrial environment, with little to access to modern equipment and seeds, and little knowledge of modern farming methods.

Enter Traktor, an app launched by a joint Dutch-Georgian team (with assistance from People in Need, the EU, USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Dutch Embassy in Georgia) aimed at modernizing agriculture throughout the country. Through the app, Georgian farmers have access to an amount of quality information and supplies hitherto unavailable.

Despite being the most common occupation throughout the country, many Georgian farming methods are outdated and farmers have had little access to modern methods or programs through which to learn. To combat this, Traktor has put together over 50 instructional videos for Georgian farmers on the best modern farming practices, featuring agricultural experts from Georgia and abroad; so far, the videos have been viewed over 600,000 times.

Access to modern knowledge would have little impact without access to modern supplies, and so Traktor has established its own order service for both domestic and foreign products which can be either delivered or collected. During Traktor's official unveiling, a live test of its delivery process was carried out with a package being sent to the presentation, demonstrating the ease and efficiency of its system. Payment for Traktor products is even possible through Georgia's extensive PayBox system.

Yet the initial brilliance of the app seemed to be made almost redundant by the fact that just 30% of Georgian farmers have access to the internet, and the farming community has been proved to be one of the poorest in the country; access to mobile phones capable of running modern applications is naturally rather limited in comparison with wealthier, urban populations.

Rising to the challenge, Traktor overcame this difficulty by partnering with Geocell, the country's largest mobile network provider. For farmers who sign up to the Traktor project, Geocell will allow farmers to purchase modern mobile phones for monthly payments of between just nine and eighteen GEL (approximately $3-$6).

Agricultural reforms have proved to be challenging for the Georgian government, and no coherent government plan on how to expand and modernize Georgia's most important industry has been forthcoming. It is hardly surprising that such a revolutionary project as Traktor has been endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture, although it is poignant that the government has failed and responsibility to push the country forward has fallen with the NGO and private sectors.

Tim Ogden

20 February 2017 18:19