Texting on the Farm: Mobile Technology Provides Farmers with Useful Information in India

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by Daniel Kane

According to the U.N. Population Division, over 70 percent of Indians live in rural areas and over half of all Indians are farmers. Yet access to technology and information in many areas is limited, meaning farmers are often left uninformed and at the mercy of erratic weather and disease and pest outbreaks. And even in good growing conditions, farmers may not have access to price information that could help them negotiate with buyers or decide which markets to bring their products to.

Caption: Indian farmers are increasingly using mobile phones to get useful information on weather and agricultural markets. (Photo credit: Krishnendu Halder/Reuters)

But across rural India, mobile phones are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for farmers, helping to shrink the information gap.

While computers and the internet have been slow to reach Indian villages, mobile phones are becoming increasingly common in even the most remote locations as Indian mobile networks expand. According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, over 18 million subscriptions were added in August 2010 alone, bringing the total number of subscriptions to roughly 670 million. Over 50 percent of the population in India has access to a mobile phone.

Many mobile phone makers, including big hitters like Nokia and Sony and smaller Indian companies like Micromax and Maxx Mobile, have kept devices basic and affordable and payment plans are often pay-as-you-go, making mobile phones accessible to people of nearly all income levels. (more…)