Innovative mobile technology to mobilize social change

For more than a decade, a wide range of challenges have been plaguing the agricultural sector in India – including growing water scarcity, crop failure, degrading soil quality, uncertain weather, low productivity of land, reduced crop production, debts, pests and food wastage. This has not only intensified into a farming crisis, but has also led to farmers’ suicides that have become a burning humanitarian and political issue.

Connected-Farmers-in-India-report-published-by-Vodafone-Foundation

In the wake of such a situation where food security remains a serious issue and agriculture is still a critical contributor to the national economy, mobile technology can play an important role in efforts to end hunger and poverty in rural communities in emerging markets. The Connected Farmers in India report, published by Vodafone Foundation, gives small and marginal farmers new tools to increase efficiency and productivity and access to information, financial services and markets.

The Vodafone report, based on research commissioned from Accenture Strategy with support from the Vodafone Foundation, identifies six mobile services with the potential to transform Indian farmers’ lives and livelihoods.

Agricultural information services Receipt services Payments and loans
Field audit Local supply chain Smartphone-enabled services

 

The introduction of these six simple mobile services, the report concludes, is designed to help small-scale farmers, and could boost the farm gate incomes of 70 million (7 crore) Indian farmers by US$9 billion (INR 56,700 crore) in 2020. Additionally, the earnings for almost two thirds of Indian farmers (almost 5 crore), could be enhanced by an average of US$128 (INR 8,063) a year, achieving a material positive impact in communities where the average farming household lives on less than $4 (INR 250) a day and many farmers struggle to feed and educate their families.

The report explores a number of innovative mobile solutions for agriculture and assesses what the benefit to farmers, economies and wider society would be if these solutions were taken to scale in India – a country experiencing rapid economic development, but where rural communities still suffer high levels of poverty and malnourishment.

Vodafone also announced the launch of its Farmers’ Club initiative in India and three additional emerging market countries –Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania – over the coming year. The Vodafone Farmers’ Club is a social business model which offers a range of mobile services to help farmers boost productivity. Specific Farmers’ Club services offered 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.

Information services help farmers increase yields through better crop management and use of inputs, and enable them to identify the best time and place to sell their produce, therefore increasing incomes. Since its launch in 2009 in Turkey, the Farmers’ Club programme has benefitted 1.2 million farmers, helping them to enhance crop yields and increase farm gate incomes. If implemented seamlessly in India, this could create an additional 15% increase in average farming income. This would mean a total of an extra $5.6 billion in income for the 63 million smallholder farmers using mobile information services in 2020. With such a large number of users, the benefits of the service could provide a significant boost to rural Indian economies.

© Technuter.com News Service

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