IVR plays effective role in providing farm advisory services: Ekgaon CEO

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    What services are you providing to the farmers and in which geographical areas?
    We are providing two kinds of services to the farmers. First is, advisory to around 300,000 farmers in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. There is a package of services, like seeds treatment, weed, pest and fungus treatment, schedule for fertilisers and agro-chemicals, the amount of fertilisers and pesticides. Further, we help them in nutrient management and provide them markets rates of their commodities and weather information.

    The advisories are customised as per the need of the fields of every individual farmer, as per the nutrients available in the fields. We have created a database of every farmers’ fields under the ‘Site Specific Nutrient System.’

    Can you explain the method of your advisory services?
    We send messages to the farmers in local languages in their respective States through their phone. Moreover, sometimes messages do not serve the purpose due to the lack of education among the farmers and lack of Hindi or Tamil fonts in their mobiles. For them, we make outbound voice calls through interactive voice response (IVR) system.

    For your services, how much a farmer has to pay?
    A farmer can get our services for the full crop cycle of 4-5 month by just paying Rs 150.

    Do you have any expansion plan in the future?
    Yes, we are in the talks with telecom operators like Vodafone, Airtel and Aircel on revenue sharing models.

    How much the SMS services have been effective in providing farm advisory services?
    Our seven years of experience says that the SMS services for farm advisory are not much effective. Either the farmers cannot read the message or he cannot understand the communication. They can’t even understand the standard Hindi or Tamil as they communicate in their local dialects. Thus, voice calls with two way communication, play effective role in providing such services. By this method, the queries of farmers can be solved immediately.

    How does your system of generating such advisories operate?
    We have a panel of agriculture scientists who develops advisories. Through our advisories, we reduce their cost of cultivation and increase farm productivity. It increases farmers’ profits around 30 percent.