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Interviews



 
  • Q. You provide customised information to farmers on SMS - what are the qualitative and quantifiable gains?

    A. We have actually moved a lot further from just being an SMS information service. Reuters Market Light (RML) is now a pioneering and award-winning business offering a bouquet of ICT solutions across the entire agri value chain. With coverage of more than 450 crop varieties and 1300 markets, RML has been the preferred choice for over 1.4 million farmers in 50,000 villages across 17 states in India. Till now our services have helped farmers by 12% reduction in price disper¬sion across markets as quoted by London Business School, 2012; 90% of farmers believe they benefited from RML service, and over 80% of farmers are willing to pay for the same quoted by GIZ funded study in 2011. After using our services and products, 80% of farmers have changed infor-mation sourcing behaviour quoted by USAID study in 2011 and also an increase of 8% in price realization for our subscribers who sold directly to traders quoted by World Bank study in 2010. Our services helped raise the income bar of RML subscribers by 5 to 25% quoted by ICRIER study in 2009.
  • Q. Since you started in 2008 until now, we have seen a dramatic shift in communication platforms - Internet has overwhelmed rural and urban India, television channels are in plenty and radio too has matured. How have you stayed relevant?

    A. Agriculture is and will remain backbone of our country both in financial and social terms, besides food is unlikely to go out of fashion. Till date, 80% of rural population is dependent on Agriculture and allied activities. In spite of all this, the small farmers gains are not enough compared to the efforts put in and agriculture cost inputs; this can affect the agricultural productivity and food security of the nation. In the agriculture sector, constant application of latest ideas and better technologies is essential to enhance economic well being of the farmer. The bane of Indian agriculture is not lack of technology, R&D efforts; it is inadequacy and inefficiencies in the dissemination of relevant information to the farming sector. So Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in agriculture acts as a driving force in the development process. Since 2008 till now we have made some strong inroads with our ICT platform helping farmers to better their yields and overall productivity.
  • Q. Your's is a remarkable intervention with great results. How do you look at its future - any targets on number of farmers to enroll in next few years?

    A. It has been a great year for RML. We currently have over 1.4 million registered users. Through sharing, the impact of RML services has reached an estimated 5 million farmers. We aim to take this number to tens of millions of farmers in next 2 to 3 years. Aggressive as it may sound, but our current width of future – ready products can make it possible.
  • Q. What are the other suite of services you provide to farmers and other business entities?

    A. Ours is a dynamic ecosystem and we are constantly building services and programmes keeping in mind the agri community of India. Few of our recent initiatives are- • Krishidoot is an ICT based e-marketplace for Agri Communities, launched jointly by the Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) and RML Information Services Pvt. Ltd (RML) in 2013. Krishidoot brings together Producer Communities (farmers and farmer groups) and Agri Businesses (agri buyers, sellers, service providers and government institutions) creating superior efficiencies in the agri value chain. With a sophisticated, yet simple to use multi-lingual interface, Krishidoot aims at breaking the boundaries of geography, information and access to technology for all participants in the agriculture ecosystem. • myRML: With focus on new technology, myRML, mobile application, has been launched for android smart phones. The application is also available for feature phones in addition to being accessible through a WAP portal. myRML provides farmers an enhanced user experience with enriched content and actionable information. • RMLdirect, a service that provides highly personalized information service to the farming community over sms. RMLdirect delivers persona
  • Q. RML Krishidoot program is helping FPOs and farmers. Please explain its features and benefits.

    A. Agri produce marketing is the weakest link in the entire agri value chain. Small land holding, constraints of connectivity and communication and lack of relevant market information lead to poor price realization for small and marginal farmers. Krishidoot is an ICT based aggregation and transaction platform for Agri Communities, launched jointly by the Small Farmers Agri-Business Consortium (SFAC) and RML Information Services Pvt. Ltd (RML) in 2013.
  • Q. Many agencies are joining this space including MNCs and government organisation. What is the way forward and the innovations you are contemplating to stay ahead of the curve?

    A. RML’s purpose is to directly improve farmers’ lives, quality of food, and efficiency in agriculture value chain. We aim to achieve this by creating the pre-eminent platform that engages the farming community and agri stakeholders through information, community and market access. Towards that vision, we have added best-in-class talent to RML in marketing, product management, technology and sales. We have launched new information, engagement and e-marketplace products for various stakeholders in agri value chains, including farmers and farmer groups. Some recent examples are myRML app for android and feature phones; RMLpro for agri focused banks and enterprises and www.krishodoot.in for Farmer Groups and agri market players. We are rapidly scaling these products across the country.
  • Q. We all know, ICT can act as catalyst to drive change in agriculture. However, there are yawning gaps and access to technology is hugely muted in view of inadequate infrastructure or owing to the what's called the digital divide. Do you think that is an issue, and if yes, how do you deal with it?

    A. Given that this category (agri information over mobile phones) did not exist prior to RML launching this service in India, and less penetration of mobile phones, RML innovated on many fronts to create a scalable and accessible model. Some of the key challenges faced by RML and solutions offered in the process were – educating the farmers and the agricultural community on the impact of the innovation, creating easy to purchase and use product and providing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions
  • Q. Would you consider looking at similar unorganised yet better connected groups such as small traders /who dot the Indian marketplaces and would be wiser by few words, or shall we say SMSes, of wisdom?

    A. Yes indeed – when the timing is right.
By Neha Gandhi
info@indiagri.in
Interviews

DROUGHT PROOF INDIA

25 Aug 2017


Radha Mohan Singh
Union Agriculture Minister
 

Indroduction
Name : Radha Mohan Singh

Designation : Union Agriculture Minister

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Indroduction
Name : Dr NC Patel

Designation : Vice Chancellor, Anand Agricultural University

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Indroduction
Name : Dr ML Choudhary

Designation : VC, Bihar Agriculture University, Sabour, Bhagalpu

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Indroduction
Name : Sandeep Sabharwal

Designation : CEO, Sohanlal Commodity Management

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Indroduction
Name : Mr. Amit Mehra

Designation : CEO and Founder, Reuters Market Light (RML)

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EDITOR'S NOTE

19 Jan 2016

Crop insurance scheme brings cheers

In view of the growing volatility in the agriculture sector caused by vagaries of nature as well as market fluctuations, it is heartening to see the new Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)