Farmers wise up online
by Nahid Akhter (Aug 20, 2010)
(clipped from full article) Bangladeshi farmers have to go through numerous hardships. Natural calamities cannot be avoided. However, if the farmer knew when to expect one and thereby take appropriate preventive measures, maybe some of his crops could be saved. Besides natural calamities, he is always running the risk of crop infestations and rainfall that is either too low or too high, thereby producing poor yields. Due to poor education, many farmers may be following the practices of his fore-fathers blindly, without looking for better agricultural methods or practices.
Without proper information, a farmer whose crops have been infested by pests, for example, would think that this is the end and that his crops are only destined to die. This would mean a bad income that year, and no food for his family.
So what if this farmer was armed with easy access to the correct information at the correct time? This could lighten his load by ridding him of numerous uncertainties during his agricultural process and thereby raise his family’s living standards. A better living standard for the farmers would mean a more developed Bangladesh.
BIID , with support from UNDP, has teamed up with Grameenphone by setting up Community Information Centres all over the country. In the pilot phase, 10 Centres had been opened in various locations, but the aim is to scale this up to more than 1000 locations in the country.
So how does this e-krishok campaign work? When a farmer faces a problem or needs information relating to an agricultural or animal husbandry issue, he only has to visit his nearest community information center and using the e-Krishok agricultural services, the farmer can get reliable and correct information as to what he should do. The farmer has to inform the entrepreneur of the CIC the nature of his problem or the kind of information he is looking for. The entrepreneur then searches for the solution on http://www.ruralinfobd.com or if the solution is not available there, he e-mails the information of the problem to the agricultural expert of e-Krishok. The agricultural expert will get back to him with a solution via an e-mail. This way, the farmer can get a solution to his problem within a 24 hour time span.
The achievements of this campaign are after setting up more than 100 information centres were as follows:
Around 1400 farmers could be reached either directly or indirectly through the campaign. They now have around 1200 registered members. A total of around 6000 queries of framers have been handled by the CICs and around 1800 farmers have reported to have benefited from applying the information or advice of the CICs.
Thanks to those at the UNDP Twitter feed