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Pakistan Technology News

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SBP allows pilot operation of e-commerce payment gateway
Covid-19 pandemic has caused a surge in online payments as customers move towards cashless solutions

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has given approval to the e-commerce payment gateway “PayFast” to start its operations.

The product is being offered by Avanza Premier Payment Services (APPS), a joint venture formed in 2015 between Avanza Solutions and Premier Systems.

PayFast provides payment acceptance through multiple instruments, such as UnionPay, Visa, and Mastercard cards, mobile wallets, and bank account numbers. It also allows for digital invoicing. Using the gateway, payments can be accepted with just a unique link which can be sent via WhatsApp, Facebook, email or mobile.

According to the company, PayFast is similar to international gateways like Stripe, Square and Razorpay.

The product has more than 150 merchants on board, and 12 partner banks which include Allied Bank, Askari Bank, Bank of Punjab, Dubai Islamic Bank, Faysal Bank, Finca MicroFinance Bank, HabibMetro Bank, Summit Bank, UBank, JS Bank, Telenor Bank, and NRSP Bank.

Syed Adnan Ali, the CEO Payfast, said in a statement, “Digitalisation is our ambition and an indispensable need of society particularly after the Covid-19 pandemic. Our vision is to provide intuitive, reliable and a high standard solution to our valued partners and consumers.”

According to a company press release, Pakistan has over 80 million 3G and 4G subscribers, and Covid-19 has caused a boom in online payments as customers now prefer cashless solutions.

SBP allows pilot operation of e-commerce payment gateway
 

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App launched to purchase sacrificial animals online in Punjab

Punjab Government during the global epidemic of coronavirus has launched an app named ‘Bakra Mandi Online’ to facilitate citizens to purchase sacrificial animals online on Eid-ul-Adha.

The people will not have to move to cattle markets to purchase sacrificial animals while using this application during the corona virus. ‘Bakra Mandi Online’ application will have all the details of the animals which include the animal’s age, weight and breed etc.

App launched to purchase sacrificial animals online in Punjab
 

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Pakistan-made drones to join fight against locusts
After ventilators, Pakistan develops drones to save crops from locust attack

Pakistan Federal Minister for Science & Technology Fawad Chaudhry drones locust

Pakistan Federal Minister for Science & Technology Fawad Chaudhry introduces Pakistan-made drones to fight locust attacks.Image Credit: Ministry of Science

Islamabad: Pakistan on Tuesday unveiled locally developed drones to fight the locust attack threatening food security.

Pakistan-made “drones will revolutionise the country’s agriculture industry”, Federal Minister for Science & Technology Fawad Chaudhry said, sharing the photo of drones on Twitter.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology signed an agreement with a private company, ABM-SATUMA, for the production and agriculture application of the drones to deal with locust crisis. The drones would be handed over to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).


Drones to help Pakistan save crops, achieve better productivity

“The ministry is now focusing on precision farming with the introduction of drone technology to enhance agricultural productivity,” Minister Fawad said, encouraging youngsters to work on agritech startups.

Dr Suleiman Ashraf, CEO of Surveillance and Target Unmanned Aircraft (ABM-SATUMA), said the company that has been working with the country’s defence industry for over two decades has decided to develop drones for the agriculture sector to help farmers save crops and achieve efficiency. The hexacopter drone has six propellers and has the carrying capacity of about 16kg, which means it can spray up to 16 litres of pesticide in about 15-18 minutes. The drones
designed and manufactured in Pakistan will reduce time and cost of farmers while saving crops and protecting farmers from exposure to harmful chemicals with efficient spraying, Dr Ashraf said. “The manual spraying that takes more than one hour can be done in 5 minutes using the drone.”

Don’t buy, just rent a drone

Pakistani farmers can now take full advantage of drone technology to save crops. The drones are simple, fast, affordable and easy to use, according to the experts. The local production has reduced the cost of agricultural drones by one-third. But can the farmers afford the drone?

“Farmers don’t have to buy or own the drones. We would introduce a rent-a-drone service similar to Uber, that would connect farmers with the drone as per their requirement,” Minister Fawad explained.

Pandemic and locust threat scale up local production

The dual threat of the coronavirus pandemic and locust swarms has mobilised local companies to develop and scale up manufacturing of made in Pakistan products. Drones are also under production at high-tech industry National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) that also developed Pakistan-made ventilators introduced by Prime Minister Imran Khan last week.

How can drones help farmers?

The drones, equipped with mapping sensors, will be used to spray pesticides as nearly 60 districts in all provinces of Pakistan are battling an invasion of desert locusts devouring crops. Spraying of pesticides using drones is highly effective over traditional methods such as vehicle-mounted sprayers, experts say.

“Pakistan’s drone technology is among the world’s most advanced,” Federal Minister Fawad said in an earlier post retweeting a drone demonstration video.


BENEFITS OF USING DRONES FOR FARMERS

The technology can help farmers:

- Monitor crop health and growth
- Assist in planning irrigation schedules
- Optimise the use of inputs (seed, fertilizers, water)
- Pest surveillance to react quickly to threats
- Asses yield data
- Soil and field analysis
- Crop spraying

What has Pakistan done so far to overcome the locust challenge?

Pakistan has conducted anti-locust operation in 32 affected districts of the country, covering 2.6 million acres of area. As many as 1028 joint teams comprising over 5336 people and 676 vehicles took part in the anti-locusts operations including aerial spraying, according to National Locust Control Center (NLCC) data. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s University of Agriculture Faisalabad is developing biopesticides to combat locusts.

The locust invasion has been declared a national emergency to fight the worst locust plague in decades. An estimated 38% of Pakistan’s land is potential breeding ground for locusts, according to the FAO report. Ministry for Food estimated the losses to agriculture from locusts could be between a minimum of Rs490 billion and up to Rs2.451 trillion in the worst-case scenario.

Pakistan rushed the production of drones to be used to spray pesticides on fields after warnings that locust situation may worsen in the coming weeks (July 15 – September 15).

Pakistan-made drones to join fight against locusts
 
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