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SMS service for farmers in India logs 1150 mn advisories

Jul 21, 2014

In keeping with plans for rolling out IVRS and voice-based advisories, offline text to voice conversion at the users' end is also under advanced stage of development for semi-literate and illiterate users.

New Delhi: More than 1150 million SMS advisories have been sent to over 70 lakh farmers in India in the first year of the SMS-based advisory service initiated by the SMS Portal for Farmers.

Possibly the biggest-ever initiative in m-Governance, the SMS Portal was conceived, designed and created by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation of the Indian government and has sources information from 2660 experts and officers who give information, services and advisories to farmers by SMS in their language, preference of agricultural practices and location. Over 78,000 advisories have been issued till date.

Government sources rank the portal number one on the e-Taal portal that shows e-transactions happening through various government applications in the country.

The service enables farmers to receive SMS messages on matters of their choice and the service can also be availed through the Common Service Centres and local agricultural offices.

The system is accessed by officers and experts from the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation; Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries and India Meteorological Department and State Governments and different organisations down to the block level, state agriculture universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Agro Met Forecast Units.

Currently, the service delivers messages in 12 different languages based on easy phonetic typing. Offline text-to-voice conversion at the users' end is also under advanced stage of development for semi-literate and illiterate users, the sources point out.

There are about 400 million mobile telephone connections in rural areas. But internet penetration in the countryside remains low and far-from desirable, in quality, thus making mobile telephony an effective tool, capable of reach out to over 8.93 crore farm families.

About 70 lakh farmers have already opted to receive advisories and services on their mobile phones, government sources say, and farmers have been grouped based on the state, district, block and crops besides the various farm activities. Besides this, nearly 20 web based services across the country have already been integrated with the SMS Portal with many more are in the pipeline. Services already integrated to use the power of SMS include buyer-seller interface, choice of machine and dealer, market prices and agro-met advisories besides a host of other facilities.

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