Spices Board is gearing up to link spice farmers in the State on a mobile tele-network for a direct interface with the Board. The Board is aiming to help farmers discover the price for their produce. This is being done in association with ISKL (IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Ltd ) of Tamil Nadu to provide opportunities for spice farmers to receive voice messages every day informing them on the schemes, projects, prices of spices and announcements from the Board.

The State Manager of ISKL Mr Jinnah, told Business Line that the company has tied up with Airtel and created a server for sharing information with farmers.

“Every member should have an Airtel Sim card to avail the service,” he added.

Besides receiving voice messages about price movement and the Spices Board schemes, farmers will also receive related information such as various aspects of spices cultivation, weather condition, weather forecast, processing, marketing and exports.

The effort is aimed at bridging the gap between farmers, traders and exporters, more so by linking the processing facilities with the farmer, particularly when the demand for quality spices is high across the globe, he added.

Dr A. Jayathilak, Chairman Spices Board, rolled out the programme at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University here.

“This initiative would have a positive impact as the reach of the mobile phones in India is much higher than toilets! A member who opts for this service will receive voice message and at the start of the day,” he told this correspondent.

“Farmers would now have to shift to responsible farming practices to sustain, grow and improve their living standards.

We want to tell the farmers that if they follow our instructions prudently, they will not have to be at the mercy of the buyer/exporter. We will help them identify markets,” he said.

Since farmers were at the mercy of the middlemen for marketing the produce, they invariably did not get a fair deal. “We want to break this ice,” he said.

The roll-out marked the launch of a community of spices farmers called the “Tamil Nadu Spices Community”. Farmers queued up at the registration desk, seeking both – an Airtel Sim and community membership.

Sources said that the TN Spices Community would start functioning with around 1,000 farmers initially.

The venture is expected to benefit spices growers in the Western Ghats, lower Palani Hills, Meghamalai Hills, Shevoroi Hills, Sirumalai Hills, Ramnadu, Kolli Hills, Valparai, Cuddallore, Ooty, Nagercoil, Virudhunagar, Erode, Salem, Pollachi and Coimbatore where pepper, cardamom, chillies, nutmeg, curry leaf, turmeric, tamarind and herbs are raised in a big way.

The Board is eventually planning to extend the service to other spice-producing states such as Kerala, Karnataka, Sikkim, North Eastern states, Rajastan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

IKSL is planning to issue green cards to members of the spices communities for free.

(This article was published on July 11, 2012)
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