Atul Bharve, a farmer from Maharashtra's Marathwada
district, says a mobile phone message saved him from crop losses this year.
When monsoon was delayed, he sent an SMS to Nokia Life Tools - a text
message-based information service-seeking advice on what to cultivate and was
promptly advised to focus on fodder.
Kapil Mehta, a farmer from Sabakantha district in northern
Gujarat, took up sorghum cultivation, which requires less water, this season in
line with a voice message advisory from Iffco Kisan Sanchar, a joint venture
between mobile carrier Bharti Airtel and fertiliser firm Iffco.
If India avoids a farming disaster of huge crop losses due
to deficient monsoon rains this year, part of its credits go to specialized
mobile-based advisory services such as Iffco Kisan Sanchar, Nokia Life Tools
and Reuters Market Light, which are helping a millions of farmers across the
country take the right decisions.
Finnish mobile handset maker Nokia says nearly 30 million
customers subscribe to its Nokia Life Tools service and a sizeable chunk of
this group are farmers.
Reuters Market Light, an initiative of news and information
firm Thomson Reuters to provide personalized agricultural information through
text messages in local languages to farmers for Rs 999 a year, boasts of one
million unique subscribers.
These service providers are now working overtime to respond
to a deluge in demand due to delayed monsoon. Experts believe mobile-based farmer
advisory providers will play an increasingly larger role in coming years.
B V Natesh, director (emerging markets services) at Nokia
Life Tools, says: "Since the Indian farmer now faces significant
monsoon-related challenges, we've been providing our subscribers with best
practices and tips on water and soil moisture conservation, alternate crop
selection in low rainfall scenarios and five-day weather forecasts". Nokia
Life provides personalized text messages on 270 commodities in 12 languages across
22 states in 12 languages and can be accessed by farmers on a daily basis.
According to the World Bank, mobile-based access to price
information has improved average farmer incomes by up to 24%, adding that the
most common usage of text messaging in the context of agriculture includes
access to price information, crop disease and meteorological information.
(Source: The Economic Times)