Use of Convergent Mobile Technologies for Sustainable Economic Transformation in the Lives of Small Farmers in Rural India

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Livelihoods // The continuous rise in the number of suicides among Indian rural based farmers is not solely due to lack of funds or failure of crops or huge amount of interests on debts. Many a time the farmers are in daze triggered by the panic and fear both of which are due to lack of information backed by appropriate technologies. Lack of information about the appropriate crop patterns the farmers should choose depending on the market demands and remunerative prices, availability of water, supply of seeds for sowing, proper knowledge of the use of manures and ways to avoid over use of pesticides----did contribute to the ever increasing number of suicides in the regions of Vidharbha and Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Government machinery comprising Agricultural extension officers, backed by the Agricultural programs on Radio and TV could hardly meet the information required for these farmers affected with the compounding problems. Use of convergent mobile technologies with the internet and e-mail facilities is the need of the hour. The latest data drawn from the IMRB survey (The I-Cube 2007) indicated that internet usage in India has grown by more than 11 times over the last seven years. The internet expansion is seen moving down from the metros to towns with population less than half a million with the number of users up by 69 times since 2007. In the last two years, 2005 and 2006, on an average 4.5 million new mobile subscribers were added every month. Convergent mobile technologies with wide range of mobiles and packages being available now hold the promise of offering basic literacy and numeracy skills accessible to the small farmers in India, besides a lot of information concerning the availability of loans at lower interest through banks and self-help groups, crop patterns, remunerative prices for the produce, export norms for the crops, emarketing and e-commerce, etc, The paper outlines a visualization of such an optimistic design of use of convergent mobile technologies. // Paper ID 192