Qualcomm & TCS to develop wireless application for farmers

Kolkata, Mar 30 | Updated: Mar 31 2007, 07:35am hrs
In its search for killer mobile application, Qualcomm, the leader in the code division multiple access (CDMA) wireless technology, has decided to work jointly with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to create the future wireless applications for Indian farmers over the CDMA-based mobile devices.

With WCDMA, the 3G mobile communication standard will have a market among the millions of Indian farmers, according to Qualcomm. This will help Indian CDMA operators to increase their subscriber base. The 3G mobile communication standard will be in place within next year, and the application will be developed by TCS.

It would work like this: If farmers want to show the pictures of a crop attacked by pests to the specialists in the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, they can click pictures using the mobile, write the text or voice message the problems to the foundation. The foundation, after looking at the pictures, can send its suggestions either as text or voice message.

TCS' concept of using wireless applications to meet the needs of Indian farmers would soon go for first round pilot testing with limited applications in three rural areas-eastern Maharashtra, where cotton is cultivated, western Maharashtra, where farmers grow grapes and, a place near Aligarh, where the main crops are sugarcane, potato and paddy.

Arun Pandey, the head of advanced technology applications in TCS, whose team has come up with the concept of meeting farmers' needs over the mobile phone, said TCS has decided to develop the concept stage by stage.

The concept, which has won Qualcomm's Brew application funding programme, will be entitled to a part of the $500000 dedicated for the programme.

The host of applications will answer Indian farmers' personalised requirements in their language and send information on issues like soil treatment solutions, weather forecast, pesticide requirement and current commodity prices in village mandis.

The information will be available in text format for literates and as voice message for farmers with no educational background.

Nikhil Jain, the chief technology advisor of Qualcomm, said mobile handsets are far better than a personal computer (PC) for transferring the required information. Unlike a PC, the power requirement is much less in a mobile handset and a farmer will not have to travel a distance to know the information. "Also, for an uneducated farmer, mobile is much easier to use compared with a PC," said Jain.