Impact of Mobile Communication in ImprovingAgricultural Productivity at Smallholder Farms Surabhi Mittal CIMMYT-India Paper presented at the National Conference on Livelihood Security of Smallholder Farmers, on 19 August 2010 at NASC Complex, New Delhi.
Indian Agriculture Productivity hampered by Positive and • deficits in physical Farmers face infrastructureaccelerating TFP threat of • shortcomings in growths of 70s economic availability of necessary and 80s turned viability and products and services stagnant or sustainability in • lack of information decelerated crop production about techniques and since early 90s inputs
LiteraturePrecision Agriculture • Information-based, decision-making agricultural system is designed to maximise agricultural production and is often described as the next great evolution in agriculture.Michael, 2008 • The combination of GPS and mobile mapping are supposed to provide the farmers with the information for implementation of decision-based Precision AgricultureJensen, 2007; Abraham, 2007 • Found that introduction of mobile phones to Kerala fishermen decreased price dispersion and wastage by facilitating the spread of information which made the markets more efficient of markets by decreasing risk and uncertaintyPresent Advantage • Increasing penetration of mobile networks and handsets presents an opportunity to make useful information more widely available to farmers.
Study sought answers Are mobile phones used for agricultural purposes? If so how? Have mobile phones helped drive agricultural productivity? Which agricultural information is most valuable? What are the constraints to improve agricultural productivity through mobiles?
Methodology and Data • IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL) Case studies • Reuters Market Light (RML) Individual Interviews 15 Focus groups - • 40 in-depth using the standard interviews mobile phones as well as those with • Over 160 people agricultural interviewed, of information whom 80% were service on mobile small farmers
Interview and research locations District Village Allahabad Saidabad, Bijhayan, Malak Harhar, Vardaha, Panwar Agra Medhapur, Mania Mathura Usfar, Lalpur Alwar Khairtal Dausa Khanvaas Bhilwara Lesua Baran Himoniya Jaipur Murali Papmaanbali Satara Arphal, Bharatgaon, Indoli Pune Kumbhar
Mobile information services for farmers IFFCO – IKSL Reuters – RMLBegan Service June 2007 October 2007 (pilot in January 2007)Locations of Survey Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu MaharashtraCost Free Voice messages Rs. 175 for three months, Rs. 350 for six months Helpline service at a cost of Rs. 1/min Rs. 650 for an yearNature of Delivery Voice message (non-customized) SMS-text message for two crops as subscribed# of Daily Messages 5 4Information Provided • Weather • Weather • Crop/animal husbandry advisory • Crop-advisory (one crop) • Market Prices • Market Price (for 2 crops and 3 markets each) • Fertilizer availability • News (commodity specific and general) • Electricity timings • Government SchemesSubscribers (at time of • Uttar Pradesh: 200,000 • 82,000 (India-wide); 77,000 in Maharashtrainvestigation) • Rajasthan: 65,000Comments • If message not immediately received by • Message will be retrieved/saved if farmer’s farmer it can listened to by dialing a phone is on within 24 hours of message number at a cost of Rs1/ min. delivery • Messages delivered at unpredictable • Messages delivered at preset times of day times of day • Subscription is only revenue source • Revenues are made from the sale of cards
What Interviews revealed? Small farmers prioritized the most Other requirements important information
Use of mobile phone Primarily for social purposes but use it for at least some agricultural activity also. Traders and commission use it daily in assessing commodity demand/supply situation by contacting farmers and various markets Maharashtra farmers reported greater use of their mobile phones to access information and also greater use of the mobile-enabled information services. Wealthier farmers reported fewer challenges with infrastructure gaps, access to credit or other potential limitations on leveraging information
Impacts on productivity Improved Adjusting yields supply to market demand Access to better quality Timely availability Access to information
Drivers of mobile impacts • 5-25% increase in earnings, mainly attributable to the adoption of better planting techniqueseasy access to customized • Weather forecast prevent losses content • describe plant diseases from the field to experts • Better coordination with their hired laborers • traders and commission agents- ability to shift supply to markets in response Mobility to changing market conditions • avoiding local travel saves Rs. 100-200 per trip time savings • better decisions in choosing market to sell output or convenience
But there are binding constraints Creditconstraint- Ability to‘Bondedne trust the Market ss’ information inefficiency Lack of Physical skill and Infrastruct risk ure taking capacity
Encouragingly the research suggests Extension services and Social networks - capacity-building efforts role in building the can complement trust to influence the mobile based adoption of new information mindsets and actions dissemination to by small farmers accelerate the adoption of new techniques. Policy changes needed to Public and private encourage better investment- necessary access to high-quality to resolve critical inputs and credit for small infrastructure farmers gaps
Key Takeaways Mobile phones and mobile enabled information services can act as catalyst in removing existing information asymmetry Bridge the gap between the availability and delivery of inputs and infrastructure Magnitude of economic benefits depends on quality, timeliness and trustworthiness of the information Small farmers are not able to leverage the benefits as efficiently as the large farmers