IoT + Agriculture = Next Growth Frontier in Nepal

With the increasing internet penetration—over 60% of the total population, the agriculture sector in Nepal is likely to witness paradigm shift in near future. And telcom operators are expected to take the lead to leverage the sector with Internet of Things (IoT) services in coming days.

Agriculture is the mainstay in the economy of Nepal. It contributes over 33% of nation’s GDP and provides direct employment to over 65% people of the total population.

Despite being agrarian economy, lack of technology, weak irrigation facility and traditional agriculture practices are primary reasons restraining the growth of farm industry in Nepal. Due to this, more than 30 districts—of the total 75—are considered as food deficient and some of these districts experience food shortage for up to nine months a year.

Moreover, Nepal’s agricultural import is also increasing significantly over the years showing negative trade balance especially with India. Country’s agricultural imports—cereals, vegetables, fruits, etc.—have been rising at an astounding rate of around 40% per year in past few years.

This downward spiraling trend of Nepal’s agriculture sector unfolds the need of innovative technologies in the sector.

Telcom operators of the country in this regard are expected to rescue the sector by offering end to end IoT services especially to farmers. This will not just benefit the agriculture sector but also unlock immense business opportunities for the connectivity service providers like Ncell and Nepal Telecom—leading telcos of Nepal.

With the proliferation of smart phones and increasing internet penetration—as more farmers are connected to internet in Nepal, a large number is estimated to get on the boat of this agricultural transformation process. And the deployment of IoT by telcos in agriculture space will help in developing and connecting agriculture ecosystem. As a result, it will shift country’s agriculture sector—from traditional to smart.

With all-inclusive digital platform, farmers are provided with real-time data and recommendations such as features of field, its soil quality, essential fertilizers to be used, etc. This technology-generated data will assist farmers in making right decision at the right time.

How the application of IoT by telcos can leverage the agriculture sector of Nepal?

Precision Farming: It uses IoT and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to obtain real-time data regarding conditions of crops, air, soil, etc. This will help farmers in making right decision resulting increase in returns with optimal utilization of resources.

Precision Livestock Farming: It can contribute a lot in achieving Nepal government’s effort to become self-reliant in meat and milk by 2019. Like precision farming, it facilitates farmers in making decision to improve animal health by providing real-time data.

Smart Irrigation: Irrigation is a matter of concern in Nepal’s farm industry. Despite abundant water resources, more than 50% of agricultural land does not have irrigation facility. Its dependency on monsoon is one of the key factors triggering the need of IoT in the sector. The deployment of IoT for smart irrigation considers different factors like humidity, temperature, soil moisture, etc. to calculate the volume of water requirement for irrigation on respective field. It minimizes water loss and ensures higher irrigation efficiency.

Soil Monitoring: In order to avoid soil degradation, the technology—Soil Monitoring System—assists farmers in tracking soil quality. And based on information acquired from the system, farmers can know the properties of the soil and take necessary measures to improve its (soil’s) quality accordingly.

Yield Monitoring: Yield monitoring mechanism lowers operational costs and improves productivity. It particularly monitors agricultural yield like flow of grain mass, content of moisture in grain and quantity of harvested grain. It provides real-time information to farmers which is effective to minimize produce loss at the time of harvest.

Apart from boosting Nepal’s economy, telcos expected bold move to permeate IoT in farming sphere is predicted to generate multi-fold revenue for them. In 2016, Ncell earned roughly US $570 million revenue whereas Nepal Telcom garnered over US $429 million. And their revenues were primarily driven by the sales of sim cards and data.

For more information on “Nepal Mobile Services Tracker—2017” please visit

Subarna Poudel is a researcher with Frost & Sullivan. He can be reached at

Sapan Agarwal drives content and marketing for Frost & Sullivan. Sapan is based out of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia and can be reached at | +603 6204 5830

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