Minister to launch toll-free trade centre, revised portal
MALAPPURAM: The Kerala State IT Mission is set to introduce its prestigious e-krishi project in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts following the instant success of the pilot project in Malappuram.
Farmers of those seven districts, where the Akshaya e-literacy project is being implemented after Malappuram, will be able to sell their produce through Internet from next month.
As part of extending the project, the IT Mission has revised the e-krishi portal, www.e-krishi.org. Minister for Agriculture Mullakkara Ratnakaran will inaugurate the revised web portal on Monday afternoon. He will also inaugurate a toll-free trade centre set up exclusively for e-krishi project.
People can reach the e-krishi trade centre at 1800-425-1661. Calls from BSNL lines will be free. However, private phone operators levy normal charges for the call. People can get any information about agriculture and farming from the trade centre, which will function round the clock.
E-krishi is a novel initiative of the State IT Mission to address the gap in agricultural information flow and transaction management.
In Malappuram, where e-krishi was launched a few months ago as a pilot model, the project could set up a fairly large network of farmers by giving them instant access to a lot of information useful to them, including market demand, price, best practices, and expert advice on quality improvement.
Many a farmer in Malappuram district has been selling his produce such as paddy, coconut, arecanut, vegetables, banana, rubber, vanilla and medicinal plants through Internet, using the e-krishi portal www.e-krishi.org.
According to e-krishi managers, the success of the project depended a great deal on the solid platform it got from Akshaya in Malappuram. As many as 114 Akshaya centres have been upgraded to e-krishi centres. They provide all help to the farmer, no matter he is educated or illiterate.
A recent workshop organised by the IT Mission in Malappuram saw several farmers raving about their e-krishi experience. They turned voluble describing how they sold their produce through Internet. All of them said the demand for their goods was higher than what they could supply.
About 12,500 farmers in Malappuram have been made part of e-krishi network. About 200 buyers, more than 100 of them institutional buyers, have been linked with e-krishi. Leading exporters of the region have begun to show interest in the project.
Farmers of e-krishi have formed Bhoomi Clubs in Malappuram. They meet every month and discuss agriculture and related issues. Panchayat presidents are chief patrons of the clubs and agricultural officers advisors.
The project is financed under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and supervised by the National Institute of Smart Government, Hyderabad.
The Department of Agriculture, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, are also involved in the project.