IFS officer Sudha Ramen develops app for farmers

Sudha Ramen

Chennai: Cyclone Gaja which recently hit the delta districts uprooted many trees. The same applies for Ockhi which ravaged Kanyakumari.

Similarly, Chennai too is yet to recover from the loss of greenery after Vardah. People are figuring out various ways to ensure that the lost trees are replenished and the biggest challenge they face is choosing the right tree for a particular area.

An app Tamilnadu Treepedia developed by Sudha Ramen IFS, Deputy Director, Arignar Anna Zoological Park, might be the answer as it aims to help identify trees that are native to a particular locality. It has more than 150 native key trees listed under 19 categories. And, what makes this app stand apart is that it works even offline.

Speaking to News Today, Sudha said, “Most farmers do not have strong data connection in their villages. Hence it would make it difficult for them to use apps in their fields, failing the entire purpose. But, as far as this app is concerned, all the details will be saved in the phone as soon as it is downloaded. Updates will be made when there is network connection, provided the cache is not cleared.”

A screenshot of the app

She said the app is bilingual and can be used in English and Tamil. It has so far got close to 20,000 downloads.
Sudha said connecting the regional names of a tree with the scientific name was a huge task. “The same tree is called using different names in various places. Hence it took us some time to match it with the scientific name. We had to get appropriate photos for each trees which is also available in the app,” she said.

Sudha added the app not only helps the user identify the tree names, but there is also a section which helps people in choosing the right tree.

There is a section called Plantation Calculator, which asks the user about various details of the area where the planting is going to be done and makes suggestions of suitable tree accordingly.

The users will also get an option of identifying a tree based on the region and also based on the tree type. To make searching easier, trees are categorised into several types such as Aromatic, Avenue, Bamboo, Fibre, Firewood and Fodder, Horticulture Trees etc.

A screenshot of the app

“Apart from giving general information about a tree such as its habitat and genetics, we have also given an option so that farmers can know what intercrop can be grown between the trees that they are planting,” Sudha said.

She further said, the idea of the app came up when she was undergoing her IFS training at Dehradun in 2015.

“During my training I came to know about the various tree species. With the help of technology, I wanted to make sure that more people get to know about the trees and their properties. My primary project during the training was appreciated by everyone, following which it was funded by Tamilnadu Innovative Initiatives Scheme (TANII) which led to Tamilnadu Treepedia. I have received enormous support from my seniors in creation of the app. It took around one year to collect the datas, field visits were made, databases were referred and books were read to make sure that we got the details right,” she added.

The app will also be helpful to NGOs, schools, institutes and individuals to know about how to maintain a particular tree, uses of the tree and what kind of revenue it can generate.

Apart from the details about the trees, Treepedia also has listed out the contact numbers of the forest offices nearby and their location.

Speaking about the future plan, Sudha said, “We have created a strong backend team so that we can make as many updates as we want in the same platform. We also make sure that the details in the app are updated to match the recent trends.'”

Tamilnadu Treepedia app is available for both Android and iOS.

Balasubramani Muniyandi