AFTER a torrential storm tore through their vegetable crops without warning, two farmers sitting among puddles decided a warning message would have saved them a lot of time and money.
That’s when the phone application FarMate was born.
“Our farms are our livelihoods and our businesses, and to have some kind of knowledge about what is happening near us would save a lot of time and money,” creator and Penfield farmer Daniel Hoffmann said.
“About four years ago, we could have prepared for the rain if we knew it was coming and saved our crops from being ruined.”
The platform was launched last year at Virginia, after about 4.5 years of planning and prototype developments.
The initial idea was to develop a localised weather notification app, but Mr Hoffman and fellow creator Thang Hoang Le then realised it could be the “yellow pages” of farming.
Both second-generation farmers themselves, they saw the potential for an app to deliver up-to-date information to mobile phones and took their hand-drawn pictures and ideas to developers in Melbourne.
“It’s whatever we, as farmers, would want in an app and we figured out if that could be created,” Mr Hoffmann said.
The app aims to keep farmers up-to-date on the latest critical news in their industry, weather warnings, national market information and prices, as well as events and promotions within the user’s region.
A messaging service with industry experts is also available, connecting farmers directly to experts and suppliers to ask any questions they may have.
The weather data comes from the Bureau of Meteorology website to provide localised warnings.
Mr Hoffmann and Mr Hoang Le included the most recent fruit and vegetable prices from the national markets, so growers know where to send their produce.
“Growers get a graph with the latest prices that is updated three times a week after the major markets,” he said.
Mr Hoffmann and Mr Thoang Le tested it with other local farmers to ensure it had everything they required.
“We used a lot of farmers’ feedback to build the app,” he said.
“They were desperate for easy access to market prices and a public forum to be able to easily contact an expert, so we made it happen.”
Available in English, Vietnamese, Khmer, Mandarin and Hindu, the app caters for everyone.
“We wanted to make sure no one misses out and knows what is going on in their industry,” Mr Hoffmann said.
“We don’t often have a lot of spare time and planning ahead would save us time that we could spend with our families.”
The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.
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