Use of Mobiles for Promoting Agriculture in Puducherry, India

Use of Mobiles for Promoting Agriculture in Puducherry, India

I. Arul Aram (Anna University, Chennai, India) and Sakthivel Murugan G. (Independent Researcher, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4796-0.ch015


This research work 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. This research work investigates the effectiveness of the agricultural extension tool of mobile phone audio messages among farmers in areas of rural in Puducherry, during the years 2010-2013. The research work analysed 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 patterns. 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.
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Agriculture comprises crops, dairy, fishery, horticulture, floriculture, animal husbandry and agro-forestry along with small enterprises such as beekeeping and mushroom growing which needs the use of modern communication technologies to achieve the target growth. Agriculture in India has come a long way from the start of green revolution in the 1960s. Green revolution has resulted in chemical agriculture, with the introduction of chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Although the production increased up to five-folds in the early stages of green revolution, later the production dipped. This has led to the revival of traditional practices in agriculture such as organic farming. Of late, agriculture production is very much vulnerable to losses caused by unfavourable weather events and climatic conditions (Parry, 2019; FAO, 2015; 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 (Baardewijk, 2017, 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, especially in the field of agriculture where farmers’ training is of utmost importance. The dissemination of useful information and advice on sustainable agricultural practices can be improved, and can help achieve better organisation of farmers. Such an initiative to train them on the best practices will empower farmers with the ability to respond appropriately to environmental challenges and will increase their resilience to environmental shocks, which in turn will ultimately lead to enhanced production and minimisation of crop loss. A robust information dissemination system can help farmers in various ways such as making decisions about choice of crops and seed varieties, using efficient irrigation techniques, alternative pest management techniques, land management strategies, being aware of weather conditions and potential threats, identify viable transport and storage facilities, and being better informed about available technology and its utilisation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

VKC: Village knowledge centres (VKCs) serve as information dissemination centre providing instant access to farmers to latest information/ knowledge available in the field of agriculture, starting from crop production to marketing.

Capabilities Approach: Propounded by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum, it is an alternative to welfare economics, and it focuses on people’s abilities to do things.

Livelihood: A person's livelihood refers to their means of securing the basic necessities (food, water, shelter and clothing) of life. Livelihood is defined as a set of activities essential to everyday life that are conducted over one's life span. Such activities could include securing water, food, fodder, medicine, shelter, and clothing. An individual's livelihood involves the capacity to acquire aforementioned necessities to satisfy the basic needs of themselves and their household.

Communication for Development (C4D): This involves using communication strategies for promotion development.

Mobile Advisory Services: Services using mobile technology to provide guidance with wide implications in the field of agriculture.

System of Rice Intensification: A technique of increasing rice yield by alternating wetting and drying, thus reducing the flooding of paddy fields with water.

NABARD: The National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) promotes sustainable and equitable agriculture and rural development through participative financial and non-financial interventions, innovations, technology and institutional development for securing prosperity.

Agricultural Extension: The practice of using research-based know-how and modern technology in agriculture.

KVK: Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) is an agricultural extension center in India. The name means “farm science center”. Usually associated with a local agricultural university, these centers serve as the ultimate link between the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and farmers, and aim to apply agricultural research in a practical, localized setting.

Agricultural Productivity: It is measured as the ratio of agricultural outputs to agricultural inputs. It can be defined as a measure of efficiency in an agricultural production system which employs land, labour, capital and other related resources.

MSSRF: Acronym for the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, which is a non-governmental organisation formed in the name of the agricultural scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, who led green revolution in India.

VRC: The village resource centres (VRCs) programme launched by ISRO/ DOS disseminates a portfolio of services emanating from space systems directly to the rural communities. The programme is executed in association with NGOs/ Trusts and State/ Central agencies. A village resource centre has a set of VKCs under it.

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