TCS mKrishi: delivering services to farmers via mobile technology
The mKRISHI initiative offers personalised and integrated services in local languages to farmers on their mobile phones. The service aims to enable farmers in remote areas to connect to their stakeholders, access good quality agricultural inputs, find advice on farming practices, and get information on market prices, weather and other information that can help in planning and boosting yields.
“The initiative aims to increase agricultural productivity, stimulate local micro-enterprises, and in the long term, support rural development in India.”
Updates and developments will be added here as this project is implemented.
The inclusive business initiative
The mKRISHI business model involves Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) maintaining the software platform and inviting partners to use the platform to provide services and products to farmers. Revenue opportunities come from fees paid by farmers or by partners who use the platform to reach farmers.
mKRISHI has already been piloted in four different villages, with a small number of farmers in order to test different models, and TCS aims to further develop distribution models to support the scale-up of the mKRISHI platform.
Commercial benefits to TCS include revenue generated through charging service fees, building the brand name and reputation of the platform, as well as developing new business opportunities for TCS in the agricultural sector. During field trials and interactions with the farmers, TCS found that farmers expressed a willingness to pay provided the business benefits were visible to them.
The vision is to establish and empower micro enterprises through the mKRISHI platform to reach a large number of farmers.
Through specialised and integrated IT solutions, the platform aims to enable farmers to access personalised agricultural advice and information anytime and anywhere. Better information and reduced uncertainty can lead to increased yields, reduced cost, improved market linkages and improved farming efficiency. A number of spin-off benefits are anticipated, depending on the uptake of different services. TCS is partnering with the various national and international agencies for providing services like procurement, rural banking, crop insurance, agriculture quality certification, access to international markets etc. Also, better soil management can be achieved with better information dissemination on pesticide, fertiliser and soil conservation. In addition to benefits to farmers, opportunities arise for micro-entrepreneurs to sell services at the village level.
In sum, the initiative aims to increase agricultural productivity, stimulate local micro-enterprises, and, in the long term, support rural development in India.
Innovation and scale
mKRISHI is an innovative tool pioneering the application of information technologies in agricultural practice in remote rural areas. It aims to connect illiterate, semiliterate, and literate farmers from remote villages to an expert in their districts for seeking personalised advice. This represents a big step forward that goes beyond the delivery of price and market information via mobile phones.
Another innovative aspect is that several companies, from the agriculture and other sectors, are connected on a single platform, delivering services to farmers in an integrated fashion on their mobile phones. Traditionally companies from different sectors tend not to work together, so a package that, for example, offers seeds integrated with insurance, represents another innovative approach.
Objectives of Facility engagement (October 2011)
In order to realise the vision of establishing microenterprises to scale up mKrishi to serve a large number of farmers in three years, the Business Innovation Facility support aims to help address the constraints identified in the pilots and increase the speed of delivery of the programme.
In testing different business models and distribution networks, a village entrepreneur/micro enterprise model has demonstrated good potential for scale up, where mKRISHI based services are sold to farmers through a village entrepreneur/eco-partner at the local level. Based on the pilots conducted to date, the Business Innovation Facility aims to support TCS in assessing challenges to scaling up and identifying suitable business solutions, in particular, exploring the option of developing an operating and distribution model for the mKRISHI pilot project.
|Sector||Agriculture & food|
|Low income focus||Producers & suppliers|
|Revenue model||Scaling up the mKRISHI programme and developing a microenterprise distribution model|
|Key themes||Farmers as suppliers & clients; Last mile distribution; IT-enabled solutions|
Srinivasu P, Head-Agribusiness, TCS