Friday, April 4, 2008

Market Light - Mobile Phones to Aid Farmers

It always feels good to follow up on a good plan- to see how it is doing. This one feels really good because I have seen it grow from seed to sapling. Project Market Light, originally developed at the Digital Vision Program has the full backing of Reuters and is now being scaled in India , starting in Maharashtra. "Standing in an onion field in a village outside Pune, Chandra Kant can check weather reports, get crop spraying information and find out how much onions are fetching at the local market, all on his mobile phone, for 175 rupees per quarter. Information put out on mobile phones could transform the fortunes of small farmers–(TimesOnline article here) - and farming is India's largest employer - and the one that could use technology innovation. The article also draws a parallel to Grameenphone (which brought banking to the poor) to illustrate that success in this field is absolutely possible. They say about mobile services aimed at the rural poor "by 2006 Grameenphone had more than 6m subscribers and held a 60% market share in Bangladesh. It is now among Bangladesh’s largest private taxpayers and has created more than 250,000 jobs. "

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