Written by Malyaj Shrivastava, RRA Network Young Professional (Draught Animal Power) and Kanna K. Siripurapu, Consultant, WASSAN – RRA Network | September 2, 2020
About 25-30% of the total population of farmers in India use smartphones and conversant with mobile-based applications. The active internet users in rural India, are 10% more than urban users. In the era of digitalization and mobile application, the presence of large number of smartphone and internet users in rural India provides opportunities for many opportunities for efficient delivery of agriculture-related support and services. “Uberization”, of agriculture support and services could revolutionize the agriculture sector, especially the promotion and improvement of the much needed but neglected segments like the draught animal power (DAP) farm mechanization and services in India.
Digitalization – A technology that is a never-ending process of developing countries in terms of construction, connection as well as marketing. So there is a lot of opportunity in the coming era or decades where a small intervention makes a big revolution on it. Just think 5 years back when you want to book a ticket or buy some product there were a lot of difficulties but now!!! It’s just a 2-minute task to book a ticket, buy some product, or everything beyond the imaginations. This is all about digitalization or simply we can say “Uberization”. It means the process of changing the market for service by introducing a different way of buying or using it, especially mobile technology.
When we talk about agriculture our perception is different – we assume that farmers don’t use smartphones for their agriculture work. But according to the Forbes survey in 2018 “India has 120 million farmers, out of which 30 million use smartphones and have a basic sense of understanding about digital marketplace.” It means 25-30% of the total population of farmers are using smartphones. Another study by Ascent Group suggests that about 50% of the rural population are using smartphones.
The Indian government is targeting 10 crore farmers to start using smartphones in the near future. Few interesting marketing initiatives were already taken by the Indian government to encourage farmers to use smartphone to access agriculture related apps like IFFCO-KISAN, KISAN SUVIDHA, KISAN SPACE, PLANTIX, AGRI MEDIA VIDEO, AGRO STAR, BIG HAAT, and many more. Even TAFE-Tractor and Farm Equipment, the 2nd biggest manufacturing industry in India in terms of farm power and mechanisation, also launched a digital mobile app targeting the Indian farmers. The app provides rental service of tractor at a minimal cost for small and marginal farmers in India.
According to the Government of India, out of 141 million hectares of net sown area, 86 million hectares are rainfed. About 90% of landholdings of the country are distributed among the small to semi-medium farm holdings. And talking about power utilization in Indian agriculture, about 70% of the small and semi-medium landholding farmers almost exclusively depend on draught power and animal-drawn implements.
In the 21st century, we are part of the technology-driven system and there is a need for uberization in rural India especially in the remote villages of the country. In addition to the 25-30% farmers using smartphones, the latest report of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielsen (2019) suggests that there are 227 million active internet users in rural India, 10% more than urban users. Such a large pool of smartphone and internet users in rural India is a fertile ground for promotion of mobile applications to provide better agricultural support and services.
In terms of draught animal power (DAP) in India, the ICAR institute develop 30-40 types of animal energy based farm implements, however, the study conducted by the Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRAN), suggests that roughly 15% of farmers in the country are aware of DAP based farm machinery and adaptation of such technologies is abysmally low to almost negligible. This could be attributed to very poor outreach and promotional activities and also lack of access to farmers to information about such DAP based technologies.
Uberization could be one of the best ways for promotion and advertising of DAP based farm machinery and implements. Mobile based apps could help not only in advertising at negligible amount but also give immediate access to farmers in need through local rental system like Ola, Uber cabs. It can also be efficient for the promotion of custom hiring centers for remote areas. Farmers can easily access the DAP based farm implements through such mobile applications.
The DAP farm machinery related could be communicated to farmers through the IFFCO-KISAN, KISAN SUVIDHA, KISAN SPACE, apps. Further, local fabricators or manufacturing units could also reach out to farmers using mobile applications. This may provide some fillip to the DAP based farm machinery and increase rates of adaptation among farmers. Perhaps it is the time the government, entrepreneurs, policy makers, practitioners, scholars and development organizations should realize the potential and scope provided by the mobile spaces for promotion of DAP based farm machinery and technologies and bridge the gap existing between research and design and farmer’s awareness and adaptation.
Although, it is unclear at this point about the mechanisms necessary for promotion of DAP based farm machinery through Uberization, nevertheless, the existing and increasing pool of smartphone and internet users among farmers and rural population of India may provide untapped opportunities.
For Contact Details,
- Malyaj Shrivastava,
RRA Network Young Professional (Draught Animal Power)
- Kanna K. Siripurapu,
Consultant, WASSAN – RRA Network