Briefing

Smartphones and the Internet are Helping Farmers To Grow Smartly and Get Higher Prices

Sanjeev Mane Astha of Sangli district has a large WhatsApp following for his daily advisories on sugarcane. Photo by Vivian Fernandes

 

A report in the Economic Times says maize farmers in Samastipur, Begusarai and Muzzaffarpur districts of Bihar are getting 20-30 percent higher prices.

  • They use an app from Ergos, a Bengaluru-based start-up that offers microwarehousing services, that is, the services of warehouses with capacities of 200 to 700 tonnes each
  • Farmers store maize at the warehouses, which Ergos grades. If also sends them price advisories.
  • Farmers can choose when to sell. Ergos charges Rs 6-12 a quintal per month as warehousing and advisory fee.
  • If they are in urgent need of cash, farmers can take loans from IDBI Bank and SBI up to 75 percent of grain value against warehousing receipts.
  • “Farmers are using WhatsApp big time… They are forming chat groups amongst themselves and sharing information,” G C Shrotriya, National Head (VAS), Iffco Kisan Sanchar, told ET.
  • Though all agri-tech companies have apps, farmers prefer direct communication. “Just an app is not good enough. We need people in the field also to guide and hand-hold farmers,” said Rajiv Tevtiya, CEO of RML AgTech, which provides weather and price information to farmers and tells them where to sell their produce.
  • “Mobile phones are making farming a viable business. They can bring in efficiency, increase productivity and bridge knowledge gaps,” Tevtiya told ET.
  • Iffco Kisan Sanchar, which has tied up with Bharti Airtel to link up farmers, helped Sarthak Tiwari of village Kumha in Bihar’s Saran district to consult a veterinary doctor online and treat his cow whose hooves had got infected for just Rs 130. ET said Prem Singh Verma of Himachal’s Theog district was able to treat stem rot disease in his cauliflower crop by seeing guidance on the phone.
  • Amit Kar, head of agricultural economics at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) said its M-Krishi service helps prevent farmers from planting the same crop over vast tracts, so that over-production and price slumps are avoided.
  • Krishna Kumar, CEO of Cropin said his company’s app gives farmers weather and price updates. The company also does crop predictions, land audits and geo-spatial analysis of crops. “We can predict crop output. We can tell them which part of the field is yielding well by looking at satellite images.”
  • Companies like Crofarm procure directly from farmers and sell to agro-processors and small retailers.

(Top photo: Sanjeev Mane Astha of Sangli district is followed by a large number of farmers on WhatsApp for his advisories on sugarcane.  By Vivian Fernandes).

 

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