'Mandi on mobile for live commodity updates in UP

Written by Deepa Jainani | Lucknow, Nov 3 | Updated: Nov 5 2008, 04:35am hrs
In a first of its kind experiment in the country, the Uttar Pradesh government is ready for the 'soft launch'of its innovative scheme to provide live updates regarding current rates and day-to-day arrivals of 108 commodities to different mandies in UP.

For implementation of the scheme, the Uttar Pradesh Agricultural Marketing Board (Mandi Parishad) has tied up with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) to start a voice-based scheme in which the farmer can dial and get to know the latest mandi rates of 108 commodities.

Not only this, the Mandi Parishad, which had thought of this scheme, will also start distributing around 700 mobile phones each month to farmers of Uttar Pardesh. The distribution will continue till most of the farmers in all the 71 districts in the state have a phone to keep themselves updated on the current prices of different commodities before bringing his produce to the mandi.

Speaking to FE, Rajesh Kumar, director of mandi parishad said the soft launch of the project would be done in about a fortnight's time, during which minor technical glitches in the software would be rectified. "The software is not accepting the rate of ghee yet. We are trying to sort it out and then we will do a soft launch of this project, he said. Once the project takes off in a full fledged way, a proper launch will be done by the chief minister Mayawati herself, he added.

Termed 'Mandi on mobile', the project would empower the farmers to dial a number 1255534, and ask for the rates of any vegetable, grain, pulse or fruit in any of the mandis all across the state by naming the product and the district of which he wants to know the rates.

"There are 108 items of ranging from grains, pulses, fruit and vegetables, daily rates of which from any of our 247 mandis, can be availed by dialing this number and by following the simple voice command, Rajesh Kumar said.

To make it easier for the rural folk, many of whom may not be literate, the mandi parishad has made the process easier by doing away with the cumbersome process of pushing different numbers for different queries.

"This software functions solely on voice command and the information, too, is provided in a voice-based format, said Kumar.

Since the rates of the commodities would change on a daily basis, servers at the mandi parishad and the BSNL offices have been connected to each other."The mandi parishad will keep updating its price list and the moment we get a call, our server will connect the server installed at mandi parishad to give the latest rates, explained deputy general manager, mobiles Mahendra Srivastava.

BSNL has tied up with a private company, On Mobile, a channel partner of BSNL, to offer other services like caller tunes etc to provide this service.

Both BSNL and On Mobile expect to get the revenue returns from the money the caller will pay for the call.