As per TRAI data of May, 2014, though there are about 38 crore mobile telephone connections in rural areas, internet penetration in the countryside is still abysmally low (in single digit percentage). Therefore, mobile messaging is the most effective tool so far having pervasive outreach to nearly 8.93 crore farm families. mKisan SMS Portal for farmers enables all Central and State government organizations in agriculture and allied sectors to give information/services/advisories to farmers by SMS in their language, preference of agricultural practices and location.
As part of agricultural extension (extending research from lab to the field), under the National e-Governance Plan - Agriculture (NeGP-A), various modes of delivery of services have been envisaged. These include internet, touch screen kiosks, agri-clinics, private kiosks, mass media, Common Service Centres, Kisan Call Centres, and integrated platforms in the departmental offices coupled with physical outreach of extension personnel equipped with pico-projectors and hand held devices. However, mobile telephony (with or without internet) is the most potent and omnipresent tool of agricultural extension.
The project conceptualized, designed and developed in-house within the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation has widened the outreach of scientists, experts and Government officers posted down to the Block level to disseminate information, give advisories and to provide advisories to farmers through their mobile telephones. SMS Portal was inaugurated by the Hon'ble President of India on July 16, 2013 and since its inception nearly 327 crore messages or more than 1044 crore SMSs have been sent to farmers throughout the length and breadth of the country. These figures are rising ever since.
These messages are specific to farmers' specific needs & relevance at a particular point of time and generate heavy inflow of calls in the Kisan Call Centres where people call up to get supplementary information. SMS Portal for Farmers has empowered all Central and State Government Organizations in Agriculture & Allied sectors (including State Agriculture Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Agromet Forecasts Units of India Meteorological Department, ICAR Institutes, Organization in Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries etc.) to give information/services/advisories to farmers by SMS in their language, preference of agricultural practices and locations.
USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System) and Pull SMS are value added services which have enabled farmers and other stakeholders not only to receive broadcast messages but also to get web based services on their mobile without having internet. Semi-literate and illiterate farmers have also been targeted to be reached through voice messages.
Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information and routes calls to the appropriate recipient. An IVR application provides pre-recorded voice responses for appropriate situations, keypad signal logic, access to relevant data and potentially the ability to record voice input for later handling. Using computer telephony integration (CTI), IVR applications bring in efficiency in terms of call handling. Generally an IVR system consists of telephony equipment, software applications, a database and the supporting infrastructure.
Outbound Calls – These are used for obtaining feedback of farmers regarding the advisories they are receiving from experts and also on the quality of information being given to them by KCC agents. A farmer can rate the advisory or answer given by KCC agent on the scale of 1 to 5. This service is available in 12 different Indian Languages.
Inbound Calls - Farmers or all other stakeholders can call this number (022-67870177) for giving useful feedback on the services or for obtaining any information from a predefined menue.
Although there are about 38 crore mobile telephone connections in rural areas, however internet penetration in the countryside is still very low. Mobile messaging is still the most effective tool so far having pervasive outreach to nearly nine crore farm families. mKisan SMS Portal for farmers enables all Central and State government organizations in agriculture and allied sectors to give information/services/advisories to farmers by SMS in their language, preference of agricultural practices and location. Push SMS portal was inaugurated by the Hon’ble President of India and since then nearly 49 crore messages or more than 152 crore SMSs have been sent to farmers throughout the length and breadth of the country.
Officers from different departments and organizations of Central and State Governments can register themselves for sending advisories to farmers through this portal. Detailed procedure for registration of users is given in the “User Manual” at login page. On approval of registration request by superior/designated officer of the intended user, he can commence using this application for reaching out to the farmers under his/her jurisdiction.
Farmers can register themselves for receiving these messages on their mobiles as per their specific needs & relevance at a particular point of time. They can register themselves for this service through any of these channels:-
SMS Portal for farmers was inaugurated on Jul 16, 2013 by the Hon'ble President of India. Till date, more than 152 crore SMSs have been sent to farmers by different departments/organizations of the Government of India and State Governments in agriculture and allied sector. So far, these messages have consisted primarily of advisories to farmers based on his / her location & selection of crops or practices in agriculture and allied sector.
A large number of web-based transactional services are being provided to farmers in various States & also by organisations/departments of the Government of India. These range from issuance of soil health cards, provision of subsidized agricultural inputs and analysis of pests/diseases etc. Quite a few such services are in pipe-line under National e-Governance Plan-Agriculture or otherwise.
However, in most of the existing services, result or outcome of service is provided to the farmer either through the internet or as a printed document. Because of abysmally low internet penetration in rural areas the farmers have to personally visit office or these reports are sent by post to them. All these result in delays & involve expenditure. Considering deep penetration of mobile telephony in rural areas, SMS mode of delivery is most effective. Although, this is being used in some cases but huge expenditure is being incurred in sending these messages through private gateways.
Since most of these services are web-based, an interface has been developed to send the results/reports of various services on mobile phone of the farmers with a 6 digit short code KRISHI. The service can be easily integrated with the existing national Kisaan SMS Portal. With this all SMSs will be sent to the farmers without any cost to the department concerned. These transactions will also be included in the e-Taal portal of Department of Electronics and information Technology (DeitY), Government of India, which counts electronic transactions happening through various online services of both State and Central Government applications.
State Governments and all other departments may start using KSeva for providing services in an efficacious and pervasive manner. Methodology of linking service to Kisaan SMS Portal is detailed as under: