The Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) has launched a low-cost phone-cum-table for farmers.
According to its Director General William Dhar the device will allow information to be precisely targeted at individual farmers who own small plots of land to help them purchase inputs at lower prices, get a better price for their produce and link them to markets, and to put them on the path to prosperity.
The device priced at USD 299, has been developed by ICRISAT's Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovations for Agriculture in collaboration with NUNC Systems, a city-based company. This device acts like a mobile village knowledge centre or common service centre, enabling farmers to benefit from contemporary information and communication technologies and expanding Internet connectivity in remote rural regions, said Director of Icrisat Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovations for Agriculture Dileep Kumar Guntuku.
Discussions are on to roll out the device across India and Africa, officials said. Apart from regular phone services, farmers of the developing world would receive free messages about weather and pest problems while sharing the most competitive agricultural inputs and crop prices.
The method has proven successful in pilot tests, according to Icrisat. In its first six trial months of operation, the initiative saved food supplies while improving farm incomes through timely messages to 40,000 rural subscribers so far. In 171 villages across Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, farm incomes have gone up, since farmers can now compare prices of agricultural crops and inputs offered by both traditional local agents and the GreenSIM, Guntuku said.