Grassroots problems, web-enabled solutions

Updated: Feb 24 2007, 05:48am hrs
When IT professional Thiruchelvam Ramakrishnan quit his MNC job six years ago, its not for another lucrative job. He wanted to use IT to help in income generation in rural India.

The man behind is a happy man today. He says, I have realised my dream by developing a web-enabled solution to social, economic and administrative problems confronting villagers in Pulivendla Mandal of Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh and raising their income levels. guides farmers on sowing suitable varieties of seeds of crops in demand, current trends and prevailing prices in the neighbourhood. Forward and backward linkages with financial institutions and buyers are also enabled.

Similarly, it also helps in tapping non-agricultural opportunities in animal husbandry and small-scale industries.

This has been demonstrated by the 18-month-long pilot project conceived after four years of grassroots research.

The pilot was operated by one project leader, eight software engineers, one senior agri-scientist, four advisors, two administrators, 11 system operators and 11 assistants (Panchayat-level).

During the pilot project, 11 information and data processing centres covering 24 villages, 30,000 people and 7,000 acres of agricultural land, were set up. The resource center did it with financial help of nearly Rs 50 lakh from friends.

Ramakrishnan adds, We provide information and access to quality seeds, best cultivation practices and direct marketing, raising farmers net profit by at least 40 per cent.

Adds Dr B Srinivasalu, a scientist, There is good scope for export, particularly for sweet orange, banana, pomegranate, etc.

The head of Agricultural Research Station (Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University), Anantha Raj Pet, Kadapa, was involved in the gradation of fruits meant for export to a famous Singaporean retailer, Mohamed Mustafa & Samsuddin Co.

The pilot began with a database of people living in the area set up by 300 college students. The English and Telugu language database has personal details like names, addresses, qualification, skills and revenue details of locals.

Agricultural data like the names of land owners and cultivators, patta numbers, survey number and irrigation sources are also stored.

Major crop names, inter crop names, variety details, area sown, date of sowing, price expected and targeted market have been also fed.

The database also has resource material provided by experts to enable diagnosis and treatment of diseases of crops to ensure maximum productivity.

Besides, the system records all transactions, paving way for forecasting demands.

While e-purchase enables access to banks, a virtual market facilitates in direct marketing.

Data is also maintained for non-farming business activities.

Impressed with its performance and potential, the Nasscom Foundation has recognised as a resource partner for its Rural Knowledge Network Programme, which aims to set up knowledge centres to serve as single window delivery mechanisms for providing information on education, health and livelihood, etc.

Says Nasscom Foundation CEO Rufina Fernandes, offers a robust system for the district. We have signed a strategic MoU with it.

Now plans to expand the project. The Andhra Pradesh government has already signed an MoU with it to replicate the project to cover the whole of Kadapa district.