IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited: Assisting Farmers in Leveraging Technology for Sustainable Agriculture

The proliferation of new com munication devices has revolutionized many aspects of our societal functions and business operations like commerce, healthcare, education and environment. In spite of the revolutionary changes stirred by the communication technologies in many fields, agriculture sector still lags behind. This lag can be ascribed to the wide gap in the distribution of knowledge among different social strata which has created a binary of ‘information rich’ and 'information poor'. Farmers who belong to one of the most backward economic sectors fall in the category of ‘information poor’. Understanding this problem, IFFCO Kisan has uniquely positioned itself in the agricultural domain, providing information services to the farmers to boost productivity and to bring operational efficiency in farming.

Sandeep Malhotra, CEO

The most common problem associated with reaching out to these 150 million farmers is huge climatic and linguistic diversity of the country. Disseminating relevant agricultural information across the farmers of the vast geographic area is challenging. To make the information solution cost effective for farmers, the company part nered with Airtel to bring out ‘Green SIM card’. Explaining the ‘Green SIM’ idea, Sandeep Malhotra, CEO of the company says, “We wanted to enable farmer to get all the agricultural messages without any additional charge on his mobile phone. This SIM card costs the same as any other SIM card but it incorporates additional fea- tures for farmers, access to help line and free information.” The messages in the application for farmers are designed in vernacular languages by the language expert of each state.

IFFCO Kisan has divided the country into 104 agro climatic zone based on climatic condition and crop preference of the farmer. Dedicated team of Agronomists designs the messages and sends them across to mobile devices through voice messages in local languages.
“Technology is the key intervention that we need to have,” believes Rakesh Kapur, MD, IFFCO Kisan. He further adds, “The company has reached out to about 4 million farmers and gets call traffic of around 2,000 per day with core objective to assist farmers with technical expertise for sustainable agriculture.” To maximize the impact of the agricultural information, IFFCO Kisan has also developed a customizable mobile application viz. IFFCO Kisan with easy user interface for farmers. The application creates a platform for farmers to raise queries for their specific requirements. The application has all the relevant information about crops and climate zones for farmers.

Commenting on the same, Sandeep Malhotra, CEO of the company, adds, “We are disseminating one minute voice messages to farmers about best agricultural practices. These also include information on weather, mandirates, Govt. schemes, social schemes, health schemes etc.” Farmers can also switch to cultivating higher value added crop with proper guidance provided by agronomists via application on soil health condition, required soil nutrients, soil protection, irrigation etc.

The appliction also serves as a convergence point for buyer and seller of farm produce. This assures right price and elimination of intermediaries thus assuring better price for farmers.

Rakesh Kapur, MD

The company recently started a subsidiary - Kisan Rural Finance to grant loans for tractors and other farm equipment; it also proposes to extend crop loans to farmers.

Committed to bringing state of the art technologies for better information dissemination, the company is working towards incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning technologies for more accurate diagnosis and real time information dissemination to farmers.