Uncertainty in selling produce on time: ryots
In the absence of proper support from the government and cooperation from farmers, the e-krishi project, introduced by the Kerala State Information Technology Mission (IT Mission) in 2006, has come to a total standstill in the district.
Of the 13 grama panchayats included in the online agri-business network, majority remain disconnected from the venture, which has witnessed a slow climbdown since 2010. The role played by these local bodies to attract farmers to e-trade, too, has proved futile as only a few of them could gain the assured return.
An officer attached to the IT Mission said the slow-down in the sector was mainly due to some technical issues, which were yet to be settled. “We have brought it to the attention of the government,” he said.
A major reason pointed out by farmers for the unpopularity of the scheme was “the uncertainty” in selling out the agricultural products on time. “In the open market, there is always demand for agricultural produce. However, in e-trade, we will have to wait for the potential clients to order the product. It is a time-consuming affair and no certainty at all,” said a farmer who was formerly part of the project.
Complaints have also surfaced on the unavailability of the previously launched special website — www.e-krishi.org for facilitating e-trade. According to farmers, the website has been non-functional for several months. Similarly, the toll-free number launched to coordinate the trade is not operational now.
To strengthen the much-hyped project, the government had invested around Rs.85,000 for each selected panchayat. A major portion of this amount was used to prepare a databank of farmers and the details of available agricultural produce for e-trade. However, the databank has been remaining unused with the idle state of the entire scheme.
As per official records, it was in 2008 that the initiative to digitalise farm records came from the IT Mission as part of the extension of the project with more innovative programmes. With the support of specially recruited enumerators, data had been collected from 16 selected panchayats. However, it was not utilised for any trading purpose with the slow down of the entire scheme.
A local body member said the data base was prepared after collecting information on 55 specific areas about farmers regarding their land ownership, crop specialties, productivity and soil type. Grama panchayats, including Koodaranji, Mavoor, Thalakkulathoor, Kakkodi, Narippatta, Chelannur, Arikkulam, Chemanchery, Purameri, Kunnummal, Maruthonkara, Kavilapara, Kuttyadi, Valayam, Narippatta and Kizhakkothu, had been covered in the survey. “But, as a result of technical snag, the data, which would have helped buyers to contact the farmers, was not made available on the e-krishi portal,” he said.