The Indian Leaf Tobacco Development (ILTD) Division of ITC is exploring mobile telephony-based technology tools for personalised farmer communication.

This comes after the popular e-Choupal initiative, which transformed the agricultural procurement value chain in the country.

“We have recently launched ‘Namma Sandesh’ – an interactive mobile telephony based communication service to farmers for provision of crop advisory on best agronomy practises, market prices, weather forecast and local news to farmers,” Krishna Kumar, Leaf Manager of ITC Mysore unit, told Business Line.

“This platform will provide accurate and timely crop advisory services through mobile phones and the subscribed farmers will regularly receive a combination of voice and SMS messages at regular intervals throughout the crop cycle,” he added.

Mobile phones are now evolving into a powerful communication medium to farmers for improving agricultural productivity and profitability through provision of timely and accurate information.

The project is being rolled out in Mysore district in Karnataka with more than 5,500 farmers who grow tobacco and ragi, with a potential to cover more than 50,000 farmers in the district.

“A dedicated team works on content development and a panel of experts from the Tobacco Board, Central Tobacco Research Institute (CTRI) and ITC scrutinise all the messages before being delivered to the farmers,” explained Mahadeva Swamy, Senior Scientist, CTRI.

The voice messages are in Kannada and are personalised to each farmer – only messages specific to the farmer’s crop cycle reach him/her.

“Timely, crop-specific recommendations, to large section of farmers will improve crop quality and saleability,” said K.N. Vishakantaiah, Regional Manager, Tobacco Board.

(This article was published on August 15, 2012)
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