Keeping track of the Information Technology revolution that has India in its grips, its profound visible and invisible effects on the Indian society, culture, ethos, the thinking of the citizen. The blog keeps a pulse on the evolution of IT in India & elsewhere and analyzes the reverberations of these developments as felt in India.
A class-mate of mine who just completed his MBA had come to visit me today. I was seeing him after nearly 6 years. It was a happy re-union. We reminisced on how enjoyable our college days had been. Gradually, downing some pancakes that my Mom had made, our discussion settled on MBA projects. His project involved a survey on 'Information Technology Rural Initiatives'. My interest was aroused. He had based his project on the e-Choupal concept which he had been describing to rural folk and eliciting their responses on whether such a project would benefit them. He had also gone a step further and signed up petitions from the villagers requesting the government to hasten the implementation of such projects in their villages. I thought his act was really selfless.
After he had left, I decided to enlighten myself on what this project was all about and what success rates it had achieved. Thought, I'll share them with you.
E-Choupal* : It is a case of empowering the rural farmer with knowledge on the market place, prices for his crops, the prices of seeds, fertilizers, etc. This enables him to get the best price for his crops and avoid middlemen and at the same time procure best quality raw materials at lowest prices.
Kick started in the state of Madhya Pradesh in the year 2000 by ITC, a large corporation in India, it involves providing a set of 10 surrounding villages with a computer linked to the Internet via VSAT. Each such unit benefits 600 farmers. Via this system, an educated, computer literate farmer, called the Sanchalak uses the internet and the site www.e-choupal.com to discuss matters with other farmers in the state and country, lookup prices etc and fix prices in the local market.
Today e-choupals cover 7 states reaching out an estimated 3.5 million farmers spread over 31,000 villages via 5000 odd e-Choupal installations. Plans are on to expand e-Choupals to benefit 10 million farmers by 2008.