Govt. to soon introduce agriculture specific mobile applications for farmers: Agriculture Ministry

The Union Government will be soon introducing interactive voice response systems together with various other methodologies of integrating buyer-seller platforms through mobile applications to make mobile telephony the most potent and omnipresent tool for agriculture governance, administration and development, a top Agriculture Ministry official said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.

“A large, stupendous scope of work is on the anvil to reach out to the farmer and to change his life,” said Mr Raghav Chandra, additional secretary, Ministry of Agriculture while inaugurating a conference on ‘Mobile: Transforming Agricultural Value Chains Enabling e-Kranti,’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

“Increasingly there is the realisation that use of information technology has to become more pervasive and that is perhaps the only way we can achieve the next green revolution,” said Mr Chandra.

“That is why a national e-governance plan has been carved out also in the field of agriculture, this includes the use of internet, touch screen kiosks, agri-clinics, private kiosks, mass media, common service centres, kisan call centres, integrated platforms and others along with physical outreach of extensional personnel equipped with projectors,” he said.

“Ensuring food security, ensuring sustainability which includes environmental factors and others and ensuring a fair return/income to the farmer are three key challenges being faced by the country in the agriculture sector,” added Mr Chandra.

“The government is aggressively involved in dealing with these issues and therefore matching demand and supply, ensuring that there is no unreasonable over-exploitation of natural resources and ensuring viability of agricultural production are some of the key challenges before us which are being tackled and taken up on a very serious note,” he further said.

Talking about the significance of agriculture in India, the top government official said that 13.7 per cent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is contributed to by agriculture and 56 per cent of India’s population is directly connected with agriculture.

“India is about 17 per cent of world’s population i.e. about 8-9 per cent of world’s population is connected with Indian agriculture,” said Mr Chandra.

He also said that the government is hopeful of achieving a higher rate of agriculture growth in the 12th Plan. “In the 9th plan we had a rate of growth of 2.5 per cent, in the 10th plan of 2.4 per cent which has grown to 4.1 per cent in the 11th plan and we are hopeful that we will be able to achieve similar figures in the 12th plan.”

Mr Chandra also said that total volume of food grains being produced in the country have been constantly rising as it reached about 275 million tonnes (mt), milk production is a little more than the value of food grains and horticulture is again stupendous figure of 285 mt and exports are constantly rising and today they stand at about $45 billion.

“Introduction of simple mobile services designed to help small-scale farmers in emerging markets could boost farm gate incomes of seven crore Indian farmers by over Rs 56,000 crore by 2020,” noted a Vodafone report titled ‘Connected Farming in India,’ launched at the ASSOCHAM conference today.

“Average farming household lives on less than Rs 250 per day with many farmers struggling to feed and educate their families,” noted the report.

“Simple mobile services could enhance earnings of almost two-thirds of such farmers by an average of Rs 8,000 per year thereby creating a positive impact in communities,” it added.

Amid others who addressed the ASSOCHAM conference included – Ms Serpil Timuray, regional CEO , Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific , Vodafone; Mr Sunil Sood, CEO, Vodafone India; Mr Avinash Vashistha, chairman & country managing director, Accenture India and Mr Karan A. Chanana, chairman & CEO, Amira Pure Foods (India) Ltd.