The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has entered into a tie-up with the international news agency Thompson Reuters' Indian subsidiary to provide market information to farmers.

The one year programme is being introduced in Tamil Nadu from January as a pilot project by NABARD with Reuters Market Light (RML), a unit of Thomson Reuters India, contracted to provide information to farmers through Short Message Service (SMS), R. Shankar Narayan, NABARD Assistant General Manager, told The Hindu here on Monday.

“Around 750 farmers in Tamil Nadu, including nearly 200 in Madurai district, will benefit from this initiative, which is being provided completely free of charge. The beneficiaries are drawn from NABARD-sponsored Farmers' Clubs,” he said.

The service would help farmers avoid distress sale of their produce by providing access to real-time information on markets. The information would be sent in local vernacular languages to help farmers easily comprehend the inputs.

Farmers' preferences

The RML has been advised to provide information - such as spot crop prices, commodity news and other relevant rural information - regarding minimum of two crops and three market places. The preferences of the Farmers Clubs would be ascertained by RML before it begins to send the information.

The NABARD would bear the entire cost of RML subscription from its Farmers Technology Transfer Funds, which is used to provide various technological inputs to farming community. The Reuters unit has also been asked to document its experiences with the farmers to help NABARD take a view on expanding this pilot project.

The NABARD decided to take up this initiative after seeing its success in places such as Nagpur and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana, where farmers were privately subscribing to RML.

“The RML is providing such services to private clients in thirteen States. NABARD decided to sponsor this service first in Tamil Nadu owing to the high penetration of mobile phones,” said Mr. Shankar Narayan.

The NABARD expects this service to help farmers get clarity on the prices their produce would fetch, when they should harvest crops and the likely weather conditions besides availability of crop insurance.

Keywords: NABARDReutersfarm sector