AgriConnect works in any low-cost, non-GPRS mobile phone.
Photo: S. Balasubramanian

15.06.2014

ICT
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Traditionally, farmers in India have been sourcing news about market prices through a channel of middlemen, newspapers and other forms of media. Even today, many farmers are struggling to access information. Although a messaging service using mobile phone entered the agricultural market, it did not help farmers without an educational background. Uniphore, an Indian company, ventured into integrating voice and messaging facilities in 14 languages and 100 dialects. Now, with a low-cost mobile phone, farmers get timely information enabling them to sell at the right price, save crops, and thus increase their profits.

Amudha, a small-time paddy farmer from the village of Vellalur in Tamil Nadu, India gets up as early as four in the morning to take a bus to the nearby market. She has to get hold of a newspaper to find out if the water level in the nearby lake is high enough for irrigation, and she also checks if the weather report is favourable for cultivation. After harvest, a local agent will pick up her produce from the market. As reliable price information is difficult to get, Amudha has to accept the price fixed by the agent. Access to timely information on prices, weather conditions, etc. has always been a matter of concern for farmers. Usually they are forced to take resort in information provided by a chain of middlemen. 

In India, the government and agribusinesses are spending resources and time in employing agents to disseminate and receive information from farmers.

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