The Coffey International Award supported by the Department for International Development Big Tick 2010 & Reaccedited 2012
mKRISHI enables farmers to access experts, helps increase income and creates opportunity for micro businesses, increases crop yield and thereby reduces poverty for those at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’.
- In preliminary analysis, expert advice to farmers helped increase yield by 20% and reduce pesticide costs by almost 40%.
- Stakeholders saw an opportunity to reduce costs and approached TCS to start paid pilots to reach more farmers.
- TCS has engaged with diverse communities, from established government bodies and academia to perhaps fragmented associations of rural farmers, i.e. top down engagement and bottom of the pyramid engagement. These interactions have developed skills and experience in TCS, especially with those of diverse backgrounds and education, meaning that employees are challenged to develop new ways of communicating.
- TCS has won a bid of US$15 Million for developing an IT system for Agriculture Insurance Corporation (AIC). mKRISHI contributed significantly to the successful bid as its innovative approach enables direct interaction with farmers.
- Small and marginal farmers interacted with remote experts to obtain personalized advice, thus bridging the gap between farmers and experts.
- Farmers became aware of best practices and latest agriculture technology such as Integrated Pest Management.
- Farmers access experts anytime anywhere with a simple click on their mobile phones and get personalized advice in local language or voice.
“ Identify projects where you charge a small affordable fee (in this case from farmers), where there is a large customer base at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ and thereby make a sustainable profit that positively impacts on society to alleviate poverty. This produces a virtuous cycle which is good for business and society. ”
Applying tchnological knowledge
India is a vast country with a range of living standards. 65% of the population live in rural India where over 80 million households (average 5-6 people) depend on farming for their livelihood.
TCS is applying its specialised knowledge to address the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, in this case primarily the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, through an innovative concept that is already proving successful.
Reasons for poverty among small and marginal farmers include:
- Gap between farmer and expert advisors
- Low productivity
- High cost of farming
- Inefficiency in farming
- Low prices for produce
TCS developed mKRISHI (m = mobile; krishi = agriculture) to offer personalized and integrated services to farmers. They send queries in their local languages through a mobile phone and receive personal responses with advice or information. Literacy challenged farmers access the service by means of voice activated SMS.
TCS’s mKRISHI platform combines multiple technologies such as cellular networks, mid-range mobile handsets, weather and soil sensor technologies to bring vital information regarding local weather, fertilizer requirement based on soil conditions, pest control, and current grain prices in local markets in rich content format to farmers’ low-end mobile handsets. Farmers also send crop images to experts for analysis.
mKRISHI was piloted in four villages for two years and launched on a commercial basis in several villages in Punjab and Utter Pradesh states.