India will launch “Spoken Web Service” for farmers

Close to 60 percent of Indians earn their livelihood through agriculture. The Indian Government is planning a spoken web service that will prove to be a boon for farmers living in far flung areas. The spoken web service is basically an interactive medium for the farming community.

Farmers across the country will have their agriculture and weather-related queries answered quickly through the service.

The international IT giant IBM has been approached by The Ministry of Earth Sciences to design a dedicated Agromet (Agriculture Meteorological) service for farmers. Recently IBM had launched a similar service for connecting farmers to the Amul Diary.

The ministry already provides SMS and an Integrated Voice Response System (IVRS) service to farmers, giving them farming information, weather and climatic details to help them meet agricultural targets. The need for spoken web service was felt as it is easier to provide information through an interactive mode.

Shailesh Nayak, Secretary in the Ministry, said, “Through SMS and IVRS service, farmers only get updates but through spoken web service they can ask questions and get answers for their queries related to agriculture.”

In a spoken web service people can speak and interact with web information through voice. Farmers can dial a toll-free number and ask questions and get them answered. In some specific cases, questions can be recorded and later answered by experts.

“Spoken web service will be of great use to illiterate farmers who are not technologically equipped,” Shailesh Nayak added.

Launched in 2009, the SMS and IVRS system now covers 2.8 million growers. By 2017 the system is expected to cover 20 million. It has been estimated that the short and timely alerts to farmers about the weather have led to economic benefits worth a whopping Rs 50,000 crore annually.