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Effectiveness of mobile phone based agricultural information alerts

Author: 
Dr. Sreevalsan J. Menon, Dr. V. K. Raju and Ms. Simmy V.V.
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

M-agriculture (Mobile agriculture) is a phenomenon of mobile enabled agricultural development for leveraging mobile services to enable agricultural development. ATIC ( Agriculture Technology Information Centre) of the KAU (Kerala Agricultural University) initiated a project on M-agriculture in 2011 using the e-SMS platform developed and offered by Kerala State IT Mission. ATIC had been sending short agricultural messages of 160 characters, twice a week, to around 12,500 farmers across the state of Kerala. A study was conducted on a sample of 110 farmers selected randomly from the list of 12,500 farmers registered with ATIC. Interview was conducted over mobile phones. In the design and treatment of content for mobile alerts, constraints encountered were (a) limitation of message to 160 English characters (b) message incompleteness (c) seasonal relevance (d) multiplicity of crops in homesteads (e) unintended distortion of messages and (f) inability to use local language. Content of the SMS was primarily sourced from scientists involved in extension activities other than from those involved in basic research. In dissemination through mobile phones, since the personal motivation component is rather weak mere information/knowledge is just not enough for farmers to act. It is the human touch that helps in persuading and motivating farmers to adopt technologies and practices. Messages triggered verbal interaction than message forwards. With regard to message categories, farmers preferred scientific agricultural practices to information about new varieties and expert contact information. The need of the hour is to provide requisite information at the requisitioned time and mobile phones do cater to this particular aspect.

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