Monday, July 23, 2012

Emerging Trends : IT in Agri

There appears to be a general consensus that the country's agriculture sector can do better with some encouragement, motivation to youngsters who are driven with a passion, and a dream to do something for the rural poor. “Ironically the government which keeps talking about encouraging youth to take up agriculture, does nothing to help us chip in,” says Mr. R.M. Thiruchelvam an IT professional from Alampattu, Sivaganga district Tamil Nadu.

Several problems
Mr. Thiruchelvam left a lucrative job as well as business plans nine years ago to take up the cause of rural development. With the support of like-minded friends he and his team did four years of intensive study of the social, economic, and administrative problems that are wrecking rural India. The team designed a comprehensive online system, www.it-rural.com to provide information and communication to increase the “per capita earning” at the village level.

Specific knowledge
“The model disseminates site specific knowledge at the village level at no cost to farmers. It is an employer-employee model. So a local person is not going to own the knowledge center. It is designed to overcome typical constraints such as social, geographical, and commercial barriers that are prevalent across the world in taking technology to the grassroots,” explains Mr. Thiruchelvam
It comprehensively addresses the key components of agricultural sector such as good quality and yield, better price realization to farmers, balanced production and strengthening institutional credit systems.

Lack of input
“There is no effective input validation available at the grassroots in the present system for rural activities, particularly farming. Information on demand forecast, cultivation procedures, input supply management, disease control, marketing, glut in production, desperate selling, impact of drought and flood are absent,” he says. The team wanted to showcase the model on a large scale to prove its efficiency. Their hard work yielded results. The Andhra Pradesh Government provided an opportunity for them to carry out a pilot project in Pulivendala, Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh. About 30 villages, 12 Panchayats, 40,000 people and 20,000 acres of agricultural land benefited. But the success lasted only for a short while. Sudden developments in the state political scene saw these youngsters grounded due to lack of financial support.

In fact, for the past two years Mr. Thiruchelvan is running from one state to another to meet different officials and experts to explain and showcase his findings. He believes that this concept can definitely provide a key to unlock different problems in the rural sector. But sadly, he has been ignored or refused an appointment.

Ideal tool
“IT is an ideal medium today for addressing several glitches a farmer faces. We are very eager to get the Government interested in this. “But sadly we are not able to get any opening in the government circles. Recently I had to keep calling for an appointment with a Secretary to Government and literally begged his secretary to get me an appointment,” he laments.

At Savera Farms, we think this is true 'out-of-the-box' thought leadership and we will continue to promote such efforts. To share words of advice, encouragement or ideas to further this cause, readers may contact Mr. R.M.Thiruchelvam at www.it-rural.com, email: thirurm@gmail.com or mobile:9840374266.

Credits : Access original article here

7 comments:

  1. Dear All!
    I have a different experience with IT people. We had been in farm advisory for more than twenty years and we wanted to develop a mobile based simple software to have a effective resource planning. But when I approached some IT firms we were totally disappointed over their attitude. They just wanted to milk endlessly. From my understanding it needs simple dedication to put up all the datas in a spread sheet and pull out the datas needed for planning. But for this activity you need some bit of understanding on ERP. Unfortunately i just operate with my small skills in self learned excel. It is working well and suits my purpose.But when I approached with my plan to some software developers for this idea their demand is so much that i got vexed and dropped the idea. Farmers dependency on external aid has made mess and adding one more vow would be depending on solution from IT.If it comes up a open vendor application it would serve the farmers. I was looking for some out of box thinking by IT people to spare some of their time to come with free farm software if they are really interested in uplifting the rural poor.At this juncture a rural farmer can not afford for another input for feeding people. It is peoples moral duty to giveback to farmer a solution.If anybody is interested in joining to have a solution that is open ended and free I am ready to dwell all my knowledge FREELY!

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    1. Interesting comments, thanks for sharing your experience. Did you approach estb IT cos or were they individual developers? Maybe, you can approach Mr Thiruchelvam and see if both of you can mutually benefit with your ideas and vision..

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    2. I was about to recommend elance too but I see that Siva below has already done it. So yeah, go to elance.com, post your project and a number of small time developers will bid for it. You can select one based on the quote, experience and location.

      Another idea would be to go to a Barcamp and make a presentation. Barcamp is an informal conference of/for software developers. Anyone can propose and make a presentation. I see that Barcamp Bangalore is scheduled for 25-Aug.

      Make sure that your presentation has lots of pictures so that people are able to relate to farmers' problems. I'm sure you'll find someone who'll be willing to help.

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    3. You might be interested in this software solution developed by a Pune based company for small to large farmers all over India.

      http://www.farmerp.com/

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  2. @Jeypee - I know several people in the IT field and I am not surprised by your experience. Most 'solution provider' or IT companies will look at your proposal like a commercial project - and will apply commercial rates, hence the high expense. The key is to present your idea in a manner which would be attractive to the IT developers, i.e : Social media, mass alerts, location based advertising,etc. Such things excite IT vendors and they will be willing to work for less in anticipation of future benefits. If that is not possible, look at sites like elance.com. elance has lots of small IT companies or individual developers (lots from India) looking to make some side money. Talk to as many as possible, try to meet a few from India and then negotiate rates. Good luck!

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  3. A similar project connecting farmers using simple and easy to use cell phone platforms. Encouraging and interesting read..

    http://indiatogether.org/2010/aug/agr-vidhtech.htm

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    1. Interesting read indeed!
      But I would not trust their weather forecast in Sivaganga, unless I can key in Savera Farms co-ordinates... :)
      Climatic conditions on the farm are almost never the same as the town (15 km away).

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