Mobile Phone Usage in Agricultural Extension in India: The Current and Future Perspective

Mobile Phone Usage in Agricultural Extension in India: The Current and Future Perspective

Chandan Kumar Panda (Bihar Agricultural University, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4029-8.ch001
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This chapter describes how the rural economy of India is basically agrarian in nature and agriculture is the life and livelihood of maximum number of rural people. As per Census 2011 of India there are about 95.8 million cultivators and out of which about 80 percent of farmers are marginal and small. Information asymmetry, ‘Information-haves' and ‘information-have-nots', digital divide was once major paradox of Indian Extension system. Through the mKisan platform, 152 crore SMSs have sent till date to the Indian farmers in the subjects of weather information, pest management, market price, quality seed, etc. In addition, the Kisan Call Centre (KCC) Service, the Buyer Seller Platform, and mobile apps viz. Kisan Suvidha, IFFCO Kisan Agriculture, Pusa Krishi, Krishi Gyan, Crop Insurance, AgriMarket, etc., are consistently supporting the farmers. In the future more farmers will be brought under this mobile-based service.
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The rural economy of India is basically agrarian in nature and agriculture is the life and livelihood of maximum number of rural people. India is most populous nation of the world after China and its agriculture is characterised by marginal and small farmers. Fates of Indian farmers are squeezing in between vagaries of nature and volatility of market, although addressing the problems of both contexts are information intensive and knowledge intensive. However, in this knowledge economy, farming also become knowledge intensive and precision farming is the future of Indian agriculture. Precision farming is knowledge intensive. Indian has no dearth of agricultural knowledge and technologies with its strong agricultural education system and research. But, major shortfall is noted in linkage in research-extension-farmers. Extension linkage failure resultant is that only 20 per cent in developed agricultural technologies reached to farmers’ field. Major ironic on agricultural technologies are that these are pro-literate and big farmers inclined. ‘Information-haves’ and ‘information-have-nots’ are very much conspicuous in country side. ‘Digital divide’ is another noticeable shortfall in agricultural extension and government of India is very much concerned about it; accordingly, ‘Digital India’ was launched by the Prime Minister of India on 1 July 2015 - with an objective of connecting rural areas with high-speed Internet networks and improving digital literacy. This is one of the breakthroughs for agricultural extension in India.

Agricultural extension is the application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education. Extension is the organized exchange of information and the deliberate transfer of skills. The essence of agricultural extension is to facilitate interplay and nurture synergies within a total information system involving agricultural research, agricultural education and a vast complex of information-providing businesses. Four paradigms of agricultural extension are technology transfer (persuasive + paternalistic), advisory work (persuasive + participatory), human resource development (educational + paternalistic) and facilitation for empowerment (educational + participatory).

From the aforesaid four paradigms, it is well understood that application of these paradigms are information intensive or knowledge intensive. For this cause different extension methods are used viz. individual methods, group methods and mass methods. Now the major challenge is to identify an important mean or combination of means to reach the million of farming community in real time basis to address the problems of climate uncertainties and market volatility. Number of experiments on mobile usage in agricultural extension shown its worthiness; to bridge the gap between ‘Information-haves’ and ‘information-have-nots’ and reducing the ‘digital divide’. In India agricultural extension services (viz. weather information, crop advisory, market price, buyers and sellers information) is provided to farmers through mobile SMS either through basic mobile, feature mobile, android mobiles. However, potentiality of Android mobile in agricultural extension is more as compare to reaming to mobiles.

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