Nabard for more tech support to farming

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Jan 26 2010, 04:13am hrs
Information technology firms should start considering agriculture an integral part of their operations to bridge the knowledge gap at the farm level.

Citing the example of Warana wired village project in Maharashtra, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), chief general manager KC Shashidhar said at a conference on ICT Technologies and agriculture that the experiment could be scaled up to deliver better farm productivity if there is convergence of interest of farmers, ICT policymakers and IT firms.

Initiatives like using SMS price alerts to farmers (on the basis of subscription), creating intranet or Internet network of innovators could be taken up, Shashidhar said.

Nabard's dairy sector initiatives in Warana Wired Village Project in rural Maharashtra, through which 70 villages of Kolhapur and Sangli have been connected, is well documented.

Warana is the countrys largest dairy co-operative which boasts of 24-hour milk availability at bulk basis mainly through its efforts to harness communication technology.

Nabard could help by facilitating dairy farmers in other states to visit and study this model, Shashidar said. But, what is further needed is that IT companies should add agriculture as a business domain to develop new solutions to bridge the knowledge gaps in the farm-level, he said. For example, a farm credit platform could be worked out, which would be of inclusive nature. Small farmers could be benefitted from it, said Shashidhar.

Kerala had tried out a pilot project like e-krishi in Malappuram district. It is worth mentioning that the Kissan Kerala e-governance initiative has bagged the South Asian Manthan Award and national award for best ICT use in agriculture.

Following the initial success of this IT-enabled agri-market initiative, e-krishi is to be rolled out to four more districts aiming at paddy procurement and improving the vegetable supply chain. But even in the nearly 100% e-literate state, use of IT is the lowest in agriculture, Ajay Kumar, principal secretary (IT), Kerala, said.

GTec, a group of Technopark companies, has been taking initiative to scale up the use of information technology in the farm sector. Keralas Technopark is the largest IT park in the country.