Vodafone claims six mobile services can boost farming in India by $9bn

The telecommunications giant published a report, Connected Farming in India, which concluded that the introduction of six simple services including a money transfer service could boost the income of Indian farmers by as much as $9 billion by 2020.

The report, carried out by Accenture Strategy, found that the introduction of the services could increase farmers’ income by an average of $128 a year for nearly two thirds of Indian farmers.

One of the key services identified is a payments and loans service. M-Pesa, Vodafone’s mobile money system would allow farmers to get paid remotely rather than having to travel to company headquarters as one case study revealed.

Vodafone says having access to electronic paymentscould provide an annual benefit of US$690 for some farmers in 2020, representing a 39% increase in their average farming income.”

M-Pesa currently has 378,000 users and 89,000 agents, but Vodafone said it intends to expand the service.

Another key service identified was smartphone access to markets:

“A major challenge for farmers is lack of market access, leaving them reliant on middlemen. This means they often get lower prices for their produce and can lose out on sales altogether if middlemen choose not to buy their harvest,” it said in the report.

Vodafone says its Farmer’s Club tackles this problem by informing farmers of market prices and other information through an “online SMS-based marketplace for peer-to-peer sales, tarimsalpazarlama.com. Farmers can advertise their produce, machinery, equipment and goods directly to buyers via a simple text”.

The report says that such services could increase average annual farming incomes of four million farmers by as much as $675 by 2020.

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