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Indian Government to launch Kisaan SMS Portal. Can it compete with private players?

Mobile based agro-advisory services have taken a front row in India in recent years.Information on important subjects such as weather forecasts, disease and water alerts,price trends,best time for planting and and selling, information related to agri-finance and credit etc. are being delivered to farmers by using mobile IVRS technology and SMS.

To help Indian farmers across the country Government of India is launching an SMS portal, named “Kisaan SMS Portal”. Indian President shri Pranab Mukherjee will launch the portal on July 16th.

Portal aims to benefit 12 crore Indian farmers with relevant information, advisory and services related to agriculture.

AgriThough this is the first such direct initiative by Indian Government but it has always encouraged companies and organizations which are working in the related field. Mobile agro-advisory platforms such as mKrishi (Tata Consultancy Services), Reuters Market Light (RML), iKisan (Nagarjuna Group) and Nokia (Life Tools) are helping Indian farmers to optimize their crop yields with right practices and methods.

Another important thought to ponder is, will Indian Government use the network of existing players to ensure its reach? And how effectively will the service be executed in comparison to private players?

For instance, RML(Reuters Market Light) a similar venture by Thomson Reuters is helping Indian farmers since 2007 with personalised and agricultural information from pre-sowing to post-harvest.

Firm has reached a million unique subscribers present across 13 states and 50,000 villages. Four months back company received an undisclosed amount of funds from IvyCap Ventures.

It will be interesting to watch if the government will also charge farmers for its services or will keep it free (which we expect) as other solution providers offers a paid version for these mobile and SMS based advisory. We hope the competition between private and government do not affect farmers.

With an option to receive SMS messages customized for specific requirements, Kisaan SMS portal will provide information on crop production and marketing, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries, soil test results, selection of fertilizer and its dosage etc. Alerts on weather forecasts, disease/pest outbreak and market prices will help farmers to plant their crops accordingly.

Experts, Scientists and officers of various related departments will use the portal to disseminate information and advisories in local languages to the farmers of their areas. Farmers can register to the service through the web portal or by calling on Kisaan call centre.

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