Technology

Mobiles can play key role in raising agricultural production: survey

A farmer using mobile phone at a village in Thanjavur district. According to a survey, mobiles can play a key role in raising agricultural production. Photo: M. Srinath

A farmer using mobile phone at a village in Thanjavur district. According to a survey, mobiles can play a key role in raising agricultural production. Photo: M. Srinath  

Mobile phones can play a vital role in increasing productivity of the agricultural sector by bridging the information gap between labs and the fields, says a study.

ICRIER, a Delhi—based think tank, in its Paper on socio-economic impact of mobile phones on Indian agricultural sector said mobile telephony had provided a platform to farmers for easily accessing information about crops, fertilisers and mandi rates.

The information received through SMS or voice messages connects the user to real-time information, tailored to his needs.

The Paper said with increasing mobile penetration among farming communities, the opportunities to increase productivity gains from the adoption of new farming practices and actions to mitigate crop losses had also emerged.

“Increased extension services and capacity-building efforts can complement information dissemination via mobile phones and associated services to accelerate the adoption of new techniques,” it said.

The Paper said farmers had reported benefits from being able to make and receive calls while working on the farm.

Examples include farmers using their mobile phones to describe plant diseases from the field to experts and to co—ordinate better with their hired labour.

Traders and commission agents also reported improvements from their ability to deal with truck breakdowns and shift crops en route in response to changing market conditions, it added.

However, significant steps are needed in supporting infrastructure and capacity building amongst farmers to enable them to use the information effectively, it said.

The Paper revealed that lack of infrastructure and knowledge regarding the cultivation and marketing of non-traditional crops and their inability to access credit major hindrances to realising the full benefits of mobile telephony.

Increased public and private investment will be necessary to resolve critical infrastructure gaps, it added.

The Paper also pointed that information provided should be in the local language and easy to understand.

ITC has also implemented its rural e-kiosk programmes across villages which provides them with information about crops and fertilisers, mandi rates, and other services.

Other mobile services targeting farmers include IFFCO Kisan Sanchar (IKSL) and Reuters Market Light (RML), where these service providers source and distribute information across states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra at an annual fee of about Rs 650.

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Printable version | Aug 16, 2020 1:47:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/Mobiles-can-play-key-role-in-raising-agricultural-production-survey/article16832324.ece

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