From Fields to Forecasts: Glific and Bharat Rohan’s Synergy

Aravind Ravi

SEPTEMBER 25, 2023


BharatRohan, a dynamic NGO which provides drone crop monitoring services to farmers, has made remarkable strides in uniting farmers, seed growers and corporates to ensure optimal harvests and profitability through the intervention of drone based hyperspectral imaging technology. At the heart of their innovative approach lies precision agriculture, where every step is meticulously planned and executed. By employing state-of-the-art techniques such as geo-tagging farms and utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for hyperspectral imaging, BharatRohan is pioneering a new era of agricultural efficiency.

One of the key challenges BharatRohan faced was efficiently communicating with farmers at scale. They needed a platform that could seamlessly share prescription maps generated post hyperspectral image analysis and provide timely advisories. That’s when they turned to Glific for a solution.

We were thrilled to collaborate with BharatRohan, recognizing the incredible potential of their vision. Their mission became ours and together, we embarked on a journey to streamline farmer interactions and enhance the agricultural process. Our first step was to establish a system for sharing advisories. We implemented a push-based mechanism where, upon completion of hyperspectral imagery analysis, relevant farmers received comprehensive information, including diagnosis, treatment plans, dosage, methods and prescription maps indicating areas of concern. 

To accomplish this, we established a streamlined process wherein, upon survey completion, a Google sheet containing pertinent details was uploaded to the Bharat Rohan Glific instance in Contact Management. The information within the sheet was incorporated as contact variables for each farmer, which were subsequently utilized when triggering the advisory flow. Furthermore, we implemented a tracking mechanism to monitor the number of diseases detected on each farm, which was also stored as a contact variable. Collaborative discussions with the Bharat Rohan team led to the insight that farms typically exhibited a maximum of 3 diseases. Keeping this valuable insight in mind, we devised four distinct user pathways, tailored to diagnose 0, 1, 2 or 3 diseases per farm. This segmentation was achieved through the application of the ‘split by contact variable‘ feature. For reference, a snapshot of the advisory flow has been provided below.

Additionally, we introduced the ability for farmers to access the last three advisories on request, ensuring continuous support and guidance. This was achieved through the collaborative effort of our developers, who created a custom webhook. The screenshot below displays the webhook’s body. This advisory flow quickly became indispensable for BharatRohan, improving their interactions with farmers and creating a structured post-survey process. It was during this phase that we explored additional possibilities for leveraging Glific to further enhance farmer engagement.

One significant enhancement was the integration of weather forecasts, which we had done previously for Digital Green using integration. We meticulously evaluated various weather forecast APIs, like, IBM’s Weather Company etc and ultimately integrated Visual Crossing Weather Forecast into Glific. This integration allowed BharatRohan to deliver weekly weather forecasts to farmers via WhatsApp. This was made possible since BharatRohan already had location data of all farms they worked with, this latitude and longitude data was fed into the Visual Crossing APIs to receive the corresponding weather forecast. These forecasts included vital information such as minimum and maximum temperatures, humidity levels, wind speed and wind direction. By providing this information, BharatRohan added extra value to their interactions with farmers and helped them make informed decisions.

During the implementation of weather forecasts, we encountered several challenges. Bharat Rohan’s vision was to establish a push-based weather forecast model, ensuring that farmers receive forecast updates without any proactive requests. To realize this, we needed to integrate forecast messages into HSM Templates. However, our planned forecast message was substantial in length, exceeding the 1024-character limit imposed by WhatsApp for templates. With the forecast message surpassing 1200 characters, we had to devise an alternative approach. 

Our weather forecast flow commenced with a template message featuring a quick reply button, inviting users to ‘Click here for Weather forecast.’ This single button served as the gateway to reopen the session window for each farmer, subsequently triggering the weather forecast webhook. The API response for the weather forecast was formatted to emphasize key headers, as illustrated in the provided screenshot, before being dispatched as a standard message. 

In this manner, we established a weekly weather forecast system with a relatively straightforward workflow, scheduling updates every Tuesday using Triggers. Initially, the flow was configured for farmers hailing from two states: Haryana and Rajasthan. The setup of this flow is exemplified below. The alternative approach we proposed involved employing two template messages, as sending template messages within the same session incurred no additional charges. However, this approach necessitated the modification of the webhook already created and introduced the challenge of formatting the response in a more intricate manner. Furthermore, it would result in the farmer receiving two messages instead of one, which was not deemed the most optimal solution. Hence we went ahead with the template with quick-reply button.

Similarly, we introduced IVR integration to streamline communication for BharatRohan. Partnering with Exotel, we developed a seamless process that allowed farmers to connect with the BharatRohan chatbot through a single missed call. This innovative solution simplified the opt-in process and ensured that farmers could easily access the information and support they needed. We executed a similar integration for Reap Benefit, achieving a remarkable 93% new user onboards through missed call opt-ins out of a total of 10,453 registrations. Further details about their journey can be found in this comprehensive blog.

Our collaboration with BharatRohan has been an exciting journey, marked by problem-solving and precise solutions. Forward-thinking NGOs like BharatRohan have found Glific to be an invaluable tool for managing one-on-one interactions at scale. They have successfully centralized various aspects of their organization within a single platform, efficiently managing content dissemination and advisory sharing.

In conclusion, Glific’s cutting-edge solutions have empowered BharatRohan to revolutionize agriculture by optimizing farmer interactions, integrating weather forecasts and streamlining onboarding through IVR. Together, we are shaping the future of agriculture, one innovative solution at a time.

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