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Reuters rolls out SMS info service for farm producers

BS Reporter  |  Pune 

agency Reuters rolled out on Monday a for the farming community in the state of Maharahstra to supply statistics on prices of agricultural produce to enable farmers make quick and informed decisions about where to sell their produce.
The service will also deliver weather forecast and other farming sector specific information. The service "" named Reuters Market Light(RML) "" will supply farm produce prices at different agricultural produce marketing committee(APMC) yards in the state on mobile phones through SMS to the farmers twice a day for a fee of Rs 60 per month.
Amit Mehra, managing director, RML said the service is aimed at making the farmers aware about the prices of agricultural commodities so as to enable them to maximise the returns by selling the produce at the best possible price.
The pilot for the service, initiated in April this year, has yielded encouraging results and now it is being made available across the state, Mehra said.
Reuters has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state agricultural produce marketing board for sourcing of prices in different market yards in the states, Mehra informed.
The initial stage will involve circulating prices of three crops from 30 APMC yards in thestate and this will be increased to 11 crops in 60 yards, he elaborated.
According to Mehra, farmers have very limited information on current and local market prices for their crops or timely information that would help them be guided on when to harvest their crop.
"The farming community in India is one of the largest in the world, but despite this it remains a relatively opaque market in which to operate," Mehra said.
Mehra said the service will be available to all farmers who have a GSM based mobile phone. RML is currently offered in Marathi, Hindi and English and additional languages including Kannada, Gujarati and Punjabi will be introduced in the second stage, he said.
He explained that the service can not be presently offered on CDMA phones as the handsets need certain modifications to be able to carry language based SMS. "We are talking to CDMA operators and hope to extend RML to CDMA phone users soon," Mehra said.
Mehra said RML has a base of 7500 farmer members as of now, and this will be increased to 30,000 by the end of the year. Reuters have so far invested about $ 2 million for setting up the service and will need another $ 2 million to stabilise and optimise it, Mehra informed.

First Published: Tue, October 02 2007. 00:00 IST