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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Turning cell phones into farm tools in India

More than 1,400 families in Talavadi, India, have turned their cell phones into farm tools by participating in an innovative support network for small-scale farmers developed and managed by long-time HOPE International Development Agency partner, Myrada.

Already familiar with cell phones – India has the world’s second-largest cell phone user base with more than 900 million users – participating rural farmers now receive crucial farm information daily, in real time, right in their fields.

Current weather reports, forecasts, soil management tips, valuable planting and harvesting information, and more, are sent to the 1,400 participating farmers by SMS text message; the same popular technology we use to stay in touch here at home.

Participating farmers are reducing crop losses while boosting harvest yields and income with the instant information they receive from farm experts who create the daily SMS text messages.

Cost effective and scalable, this innovative use of a highly familiar technology throughout rural India enables our Myrada colleagues to be in 1,400 different locations at once, without ever leaving their central office.

This initiative is a great example of using technology in an appropriate manner; not just for technologies sake, but for the farmers sake, as evidenced when SMS text messaging was chosen over the typical smart phone app. The farmers we’re helping cannot afford the data plans required to use smart phone apps, like those that are so popular here at home.