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Mobile services to benefit 7 crore Indian farmers: report


29 May 2015

Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia

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The mobile based services would be especially beneficial to the small and marginal farmers living on the edge of poverty, says the report.

New Delhi: Mobile services have the potential to enhance income of seven crore small and marginal farmers by over Rs. 56,000 crore a year, in the next five years, says a new report.

The introduction of simple mobile services like weather forecasts and market prices, designed to help small-scale farmers in emerging markets, could boost the farm gate incomes of 7 crore Indian farmers by over Rs. 56,000 crore in 2020, says Vodafone’s Connected Farming in India report.

The report found that the average farming household lives on less than Rs 250 per day, with many farmers struggling to feed and educate their families. Simple mobile services could enhance earnings of almost two thirds of such farmers by an average of Rs 8,000/- per year, creating a positive impact in communities.

A nonprofit like OneWorld Foundation India has in collaboration with Cisco pioneered the use of ICTs to assist the farming community to get customised answers to their queries. With the help of mobile phones, farmers dial-in to a service called LifeLines-Agriculture and record queries about any agriculture related problems they face and secure customised answers in both text and voice forms.

India’s Minister of State for Agriculture, Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya, said, “Agriculture is the principal source of livelihood for more than 58% of our population. Our government is committed to connecting our farmer brothers on the information highway and bringing to them the advantages of latest technology advances right to their fields and in their hands,” Kundariya said.

Raghav Chandra, Additional Secretary & Financial Advisor, Ministry of Agriculture, said, “Technology for farmers is one of the focus areas under e-Kranti, a key pillar for realising the Digital India vision. The future of agriculture lies in bringing digital services to the farm as agriculture is increasingly becoming more and more knowledge intensive,” Chandra said.

Reema Nanavaty, MD, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a nonprofit, said that mobile applications need to be user-friendly for delivering results. She stressed on the need for understanding the real issues of the farmers and identifying their needs which could be helpful in generating the demand for innovative mobile services.

Reema called for the need based technology applications. “The challenge for technology is to match up to the peer level interaction among farmers,” she said.

Vodafone Group’s Regional Chief Executive for the Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region, Serpil Timuray, said that mobile technology has a critically important role to play in increasing agricultural resilience and enhancing quality of life for some of the poorest people on earth. “One-third of humanity relies on food grown by 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land,” she added.

Harish Nair, AVP Sales, Head, Sales of the Crop Nutrition and Agri Business, Tata Chemicals, said that the diversity of rural communities in India was a big challenge while devising innovative mobile services.

Nitin Puri, President & Country Head- Food & Agri Strategic Advisory & Research, Yes Bank, said that access to markets could be one of the main drivers for the mobile technology in transforming the agricultural value chains crucial for raising farmers’ income.

India is one of the world’s largest food producers with more than 20 crore people currently estimated to work in agriculture. Around 62% of farmers own less than one hectare of land, significantly increasing their exposure to the effects of crop failure, pests, disease and volatile market pricing.

To tap the potential of mobile phones in transforming agricultural value chains for enabling e-Kranti, Vodafone also launched a Farmers’ Club initiative in six countries, including ‘KisaanMitr’ in India to enhance smallholders’ productivity.

 
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