February 2006

ICT in Indian Agriculture: A powerful intervention

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The Indian agriculture is on the wheels of mission mode transformation. A look at the observations of the latest situation Assessment survey of Farmers 2005 of NSSO highlights the factors afflicting the most important sector in the country with a focus on the issue of access to technology, government endeavor, markets, institutions and services indicating limitations in the current public service, thus calling for ICT intervention.

The latest Situation Assessment Survey of Farmers 2005 of NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation)
(http://mospi.nic.in/mospi_nsso_rept_pubn.htm) observes that the average Monthly Per Capita Expenditure (MPCE) of a farm household has been just Rs.503 (US$11.32) in 2003 across regions, classes and income groups, with 27% of farmers not liking farming while 40% felt that given the option they would prefer other career owing to poor earnings.

The survey also pointed out that only 29% understood the meaning of minimum support prices while only 40% of farmer households accessed information on modern technology in farming. The observations thus clearly illustrate the maladies that afflict the Indian agriculture as such, and bring into focus the issues of access to technology, government endeavour, markets, institutions and services, indicating the limitations in the current public service delivery and need for new intervention with right means.

The impact is visible with low GDP (Gross Domestic Product) contribution (22%) of agriculture sector at the national level even though more than 65% of Indians are dependant on it for their livelihood. Despite the avowed target of 4% in agriculture to achieve 8% growth in overall GDP during tenth plan (2002-07), agriculture performance has till date been a serious concern for the economy and become an issue of serious discussion in the nation

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