Agriculture is the backbone of India as we know and majority of the population earn their livelihood from farming. India ranks 2nd in farming output in the world. Farmers need to sell their produce to earn a decent livelihood. Marketing is still fresh in India and has not reached as much audience as it could have. Farmers normally sell their produce to nearby villages, towns, markets or fairs. Sometimes they also approach middle men to sell their produce. The issue with this could be that farmers could get cheated as they may be unaware of the rates their produce was sold at, the price of commodities etc. There are many more such related issues that farmers face on a daily basis.
To make farmers earn a better livelihood, the Government has stepped in to help ease their pains. The Government of India is making the process of buying and selling produce (and other related information) for farmers as seamless as possible by introducing various means and technologies. One such is the internet where they list their produce and the rates and sell and buy commodities directly without involving middlemen. www.mkisan.gov.in is one such website that allows farmers to sell and buy produce. Internet is still a new concept in most villages and needs a better outreach. Efforts are being taken in this respect.
The Government has also introduced mobile messaging to reach about 9 crore farmers. The portal enables all organizations across state and central government to give relevant information to farmers through the means of SMS. The Government of India, through the National e-Governance Plan – Agriculture (NeGP-A) aims to provide services such as internet, touch screen kiosks, agri-clinics, private kiosks, mass media, common service centers, Kisan call centers, and integrated platforms.
The SMS portal sends messages to farmers for their specific needs in their language. Some of these services include Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) and Pull SMS. The website www.farmer.gov.in is a one stop shop for farmers across India seeking relevant information regarding crops, animal husbandry, fishery etc. Any information they require with respect to local markets, location of the agri export zones, veterinary help, livestock census, crop management, agricultural land and much more is easily available on this website. The information is sent to farmers on their mobile phones in the form of text, audio/video in the language that they understand. Farmers can also ask queries and provide feedback through the feedback module on the website. Both the websites mentioned link to each other as well and other websites such as www.agricoop.gov.in, www.data.gov.in, www.icar.org.in etc. There are other links as well and can be explored as needed by farmers.
Some of the combined objectives of these websites include –
· The main idea behind these websites is to double farmers income and make the process of farming easier and better organized
· Farmers need to be better informed about farming practices, water management, how to use internet and other technology and so on
· SMS portal aims to provide timely information to farmers that are relevant to them in their language. It also keeps farmers updated about latest trends.
· To make SMS and mobile services as a 2 way agricultural extension between farmers and the governing authorities
· To ensure that every farming household is covered and has all the necessary information, support and facilities they need for farming
· To create a centralized system where different modes of information flow are channelized
· Integrating the data base of farmers from state governments, universities, KVKs, Kisan call centers etc
· This also provides increased employment opportunities for more people related directly or indirectly to farming
· Farmers can receive timely information locations for agriculture, climatic changes, crops being used, seed varieties and much more
· Currently these services are already benefiting about 70 lakh farmers
· Integrating web based services with the SMS portal. Already about 20 web based services have been integrated
· Farmers can use these websites to search by location, topic, administrative unit, etc
There are many more websites providing information to farmers to buy and sell their produce that are private. One of these is the www.kisanmarket.com that allows farmers to directly interact with consumers. There are options available on the website that allows farmers to buy or sell produce at the click of a button. Consumers can use this website too to buy produce directly online. The prices of the products are listed and are organized well under specific categories to avoid confusion. Information about each product is listed in detail. This is a great initiative to bring farmers and buyers together. Farmers and consumers need to sign up on the website and provide all basic information about them. Once that is done, you will be identified as a buyer or seller and just like any normal you can contact buyers directly and vice versa. The website also provides options to negotiate rates, mode of delivery, medium of payment etc. National Agriculture Markets (e-NAM) have been created to ease the process of buying and selling for farmers.