The introduction of simple mobile services designed to help small and marginal farmers in India could boost the incomes of 7 crore farmers by over Rs 56,000 crore by 2020, this was revealed in a report ‘Connected Farming in India’ by Vodafone.
The report was released in New Delhi during a conference on Mobile: Transforming Agricultural Value Chain; Enabling eKranti, jointly organised by Assocham.
The report, based on research commissioned from Accenture Strategy with support from the Vodafone Foundation, has found that the average farming household lives on less than Rs 250 per day and struggle to feed and educate their families. Simple mobile services could enhance earnings of almost two thirds of such farmers by an average of Rs. 8,000 per year, creating a positive impact in the farming community.
During the conference, Vodafone also announced the expansion of its Farmers’ Club initiative in six countries, including ‘KisaanMitr’ in India and its equivalents in other emerging markets- Ghana, Kenya, New Zealand and Tanzania-over the coming years and in Turkey where it has been operational since 2009 and has already benefitted 1.2 million farmers. It is helping them to increase farm output. Specific services offered under the Farmers’ Club in each country will vary but will include information services, virtual marketplaces in which farmers can sell their produce and mobile money financial services and products.
Launching the Club, Vodafone Group Regional Chief Executive for Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific region, Serpil Timuray, said, “One-third of humanity relies on food grown by 500 million smallholder farmers with less than two hectares of land. Mobile has a critically important role to play in increasing agricultural resilience and enhancing quality of life for small and marginal farmers. Our experience in Turkey has demonstrated how mobile services can transform farmers’ ability to increase crop yields, improve efficiency and grow farm incomes.”
“As the global population continues to expand, farmers have an urgent need to produce ever-increasing amounts of food without destroying habitats or depleting resources in a way which is sustainable. The Vodafone Farmers’ Club concept can make a difference in addressing the global challenge of food production and security,” Timuray further said.
Highlighting the Vodafone KisaanMitr initiative in India, Sunil Sood, MD & CEO, Vodafone India said, “The basis for the next Green Revolution in India will be a ‘knowledge revolution’, and technology, particularly mobile, will play a key role in driving it. Today, 46 percent people in rural areas have a mobile phone and access to mobile services among those yet unconnected is growing rapidly. This offers a new channel for delivering agricultural services and an opportunity to engage rural communities in new ways.”
“We are committed to leverage our learning and reach to create and deliver new business models that will benefit the entire agriculture value chain. The launch of KisaanMitr is our first step in addressing the needs of the farming community in India by providing access to timely information, markets and financial inclusion.”
Through this initiative, Vodafone launched six new services for the Indian farmers; in association with Reuters Market Light, farm advisory to the farming community through mobile phones will be provided.
In association with Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), the initiative would enable small scale farm producers to transact with local co-operatives through a buy/sell platform with integrated mobile payments.
Furthermore, the initiative would provide transparency in daily commodity supply chains through the use of mobile registration services and receipts. It would provide a combination of smartphone enabled information services, with mobile payments, loans, insurance and receipting and a virtual marketplace.
Amit Mehra, CEO, Reuters Market Light said in the conference, “Sustainability is the biggest challenge in selling a new technology to the farmers. It is very challenging to make change in the behaviour of farmers. Commenting on the content, he said, “The information should be hyper local in terms of language and dialects. Thus, we have a panel of farmers across the country and whenever we launch new technology, product or service, we first consult with them.”
Speaking the occasion, Reema Nanavaty, MD, SEWA said, “Technology necessarily plays important role in strengthening agriculture sector.” Commenting on the behavioural change among the farmers, she said, “The technology should be farmer friendly. The farmers should be made aware that how is the technology going to help in increasing their income and making work easy. If they are convinced, they will definitely start using a new technology.