Mobile Extension in Enhancing the Livelihood of Farmers in India

Mobile Extension in Enhancing the Livelihood of Farmers in India

G. Sakthivel Murugan (Vikatan magazine, Chennai, India), I. Arul Aram (Anna University, Chennai, India), S. Amal Raj (Anna University, Chennai, India), A. Arivudai Nambi (World Resources Institute Chennai, India), and Nancy J. Anabel (M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, India)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJEP.2018010104
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This research article is based on an empirical investigation into mobile advisory services co-created by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) and the agriculture farmers' community of the Union Territory of Puducherry, India. It seeks to map pattern of mobile advisory use and its impact on agricultural livelihood vis-à-vis agriculture and animal husbandry. This research article investigates the effectiveness of the agricultural extension tool of mobile phone among farmers in areas of rural in Puducherry, during the years 2010-2013. Investigation with the farmers revealed that innovative dissemination of mobile advisory has improved their agricultural productivity. The mobile audio advisories played a vital role in bridging the knowledge gap and scientific solutions between the scientific and farming communities. This research paper analyses farmers' benefits, gaps in mobile advisory services (MAS), perception of mobile messages, socio-demographic, and socio-economic data. As a result, farmers were able to acquire knowledge and skills relating to their livelihoods and make timely decisions to cope with emerging issues and trends in agriculture to an extent of diversifying their cropping pattern. The audio advisories helped farmers with timely information on agriculture. Mobile advisory has also strengthened the local agricultural extension system where farmers have updated their knowledge and skills. These messages enhanced their knowledge in crop management, latest farming technologies, and agriculture-related government schemes and entitlements, and post-harvest techniques along with care and management of livestock. These skills are very much useful for them to get adapted to changing climate scenarios and to have improved livelihood opportunities.
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Agriculture production is very much vulnerable to losses caused by unfavourable weather events and climatic conditions (Rosenberg, 1992). Many researchers have reported the adverse climate change effects on crops, pests, soil and livestock (Aggarwal, 2008; Suryavanshi, 2012; Nelson et al., 2009; Khan et al., 2009; Rosegrant et al., 2008). These changes affect the livelihoods of a large number of the rural poor farmers in the developing countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa and China. The rural sector has agriculture and animal husbandry as major livelihood options, and this paper concentrates on these with focus on mobile advisory services (MAS).

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) in developing countries over the past decade offer a unique opportunity to transfer knowledge via private and public information systems (Aker, 2010; Sulaiman et al., 2003; Richardson et al., 2006; Digital Review of Asia Pacific, 2008). ICTs directly support farmers’ access to timely and relevant information, as well as empower the creation and sharing of knowledge of the farming community (Aker, 2010).

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is universally acknowledged as an important catalyst for social transformation and national progress. But disparities in the levels of ICT readiness and use could translate into disparities in level of productivities and hence could influence a country’s rate of economic growth. Understanding and leveraging ICT is, therefore, critical for countries striving for continued social and economic progress.

Mobile phones reduce communication and information costs for the rural poor in developing countries. This not only provides new opportunities for farmers to obtain access to information on agricultural technologies but also to use ICTs in agricultural extension systems (Aker, 2010). The increasing penetration of mobile phones and mobile-enabled information services in rural India can reduce information asymmetry and complement the role of extension services (Mittal et al., 2010).

Adhigurua and Birthalb (2009) found that agricultural public extension services in India have been accessed only by 5.7 per cent households proving the need for strengthening the extension services. The public agriculture department’s extension service has clearly not reached all farmers in need for information.

The public agricultural extension systems often fail due to inadequate consultation of farmers about their information needs and poor understanding of their information search strategies (Babu et al., 2012).

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