A grape plantation in the rolling hills outside Uzbekistan’s capital may seem an unlikely spot to find a tech entrepreneur going about her business. But Dildora Atadjanova, cell phone in hand, is on a mission to extoll the virtues of technology to farmers.
Mukhlisa Todjiboyeva stared at the screen as Atadjanova opened the Telegram app – Uzbekistan’s go-to means of communication – and launched a bot that promises to be life-changing for smallholders. Dalatek is a web-based platform that connects farmers with exporters and other buyers such as restaurateurs, elbowing out the middleman whose cut reduces the already slim profits for those growing produce.
The developers made the service available as a bot because farmers “are all using Telegram,” Atadjanova told. “Farmers upload what they have, and exporters can see and contact the farmer.” “It’s easy to see what the farmer’s now selling,” she explained, demonstrating the bot in action. “For example, this is pomegranates – he’s selling 70 kilograms, 50,000 sums. He set the price, and if I like it I can call him now.”
She was speaking before driving out to nearby Parkent, a lush land of vineyards and orchards where the grape harvest was in full swing on a recent fall morning, the mostly female pickers nimbly working the vines and marching past with crates of grapes on their heads.
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